CPT for International Students Explained! (Best Tips To Get Curricular Practical Training)

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Learn how to get CPT (Curricular Practical Training) as an F1 visa international student, as well as the best tips to get a CPT internship or a multi-semester co-op job opportunity.

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Overview of CPT

CPT is considered as an employment that is INTEGRAL to an F1 student’s academic program of study. The CPT must provide training or work experience that is needed to complete your degree otherwise it must be a work experience that you could earn academic course credit for. It is expected that the CPT should not prolong the time to completion of the F1 visa students’ degree program. Some examples of CPT are internships and multi-semester coops, both of which could be paid or unpaid and done off-campus at an employer’s location or while working remotely at another location.

Benefits of CPT

CPT is a great way to get work experience in your field of study prior to graduation and is also a great opportunity to build and grow your professional network outside of your university. Like you might have heard, sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know.

Eligibility for CPT

To be eligible for CPT you must have been enrolled full time for at least 2 long semesters in an active F1 status. The only exception here are students who have programs that require an immediate participation in CPT within the first year of study. You must also have a job offer that is directly related to your major. If the CPT is not required to graduate, you must earn course credit during the semester that the internship is held with slight exceptions depending on your university.

How to Apply for CPT

Generally applying for CPT is a 2-step process. In the first step you will need to obtain the approval of your academic advisor. This requires you to provide an employment offer letter from a US employer describing the nature of your work. Your academic advisor will then determine if this work is related to your field of study and would provide a written notice of approval. With this approval, you can then complete the second step, where your designated school official (DSO) would provide an I-20 endorsed for CPT. This endorsed I-20 is your legal employment authorization to work temporarily in the US with the specified CPT employer.

Limitations of CPT There are two ways you can use CPT; these are part-time and full time. Part time CPT is defined as 20 hours or less per week while full-time CPT is defined as more than 20 hours per week. Note that if you complete 12 months of full time CPT, you become ineligible for OPT. On the other hand, part-time CPT is not capped, so once you meet the eligibility requirements for CPT, you can work part time for several months. Furthermore, with CPT, any changes in your employment requires a new CPT authorization and must be reported to avoid violating your status. You are also required to pass the course for your CPT authorization, otherwise you will be violating your status.

Best Tips to Get CPT Jobs

1. Start researching your industry early on
2. Don’t rely solely on online job applications
3. Where possible, accept unpaid internship jobs if you can’t get a paid internship

Curated by uConnect