Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Curricular Practical Training CPT is alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, clerkship, or optional/required internship or practicum, available only while the student is in F-1 status before completion of the educational objective.

CPT is only available for F-1 students when it is directly related to specific courses that are part of the required curriculum. CPT should not be used to extend your SEVIS program end date/degree completion.  

 CPT Eligibility Requirement

  • Undergraduates: Must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year.
  • Graduates: Exempted from the one full academic year requirement.
  • Employment must be integral or relevant to your established curriculum.
  • The training requested must be required of all students or optional for your degree or track.
  • Register for the appropriate courses and make sure to tie the employment to a course each semester as stated in your academic degree plan.
  • Must be in good academic standing and maintain good academic standing throughout the duration of employment (3.0 or higher for graduate students and 2.0 or higher for undergraduate students).
  • Must have a valid employment/ internship/ training offer related to the student’s degree (paid or unpaid).

 CPT Time Limits & Dates / OPT Eligibility

  • You may be approved for CPT multiple times during your degree program. At all times, you must continue to make satisfactory progress toward completing your degree program.
  • When you apply for CPT (part-time or full-time), your I-20 can only be authorized for one academic year (maximum of 3 semesters), if you decide to continue, then you must re-apply again.
  • Students can only do full-time CPT for a maximum of 1 year or 365 days. If a student exceeds 365 days of full-time CPT and they wish to continue, then they can only be authorized for part-time employment.
  • Accumulating part-time CPT generally does not affect your eligibility for post-completion OPT. However, please know that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will review an OPT applicant’s entire CPT history when determining OPT eligibility.

If you are authorized for 365+ days of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for post-completion OPT at the same degree level. Please click here for the regulations

 Part time and Full time CPT

Part-time and full-time practical training is defined by immigration as:

  • Part-time CPT is 20 hours or less per week and full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week/ maximum of 40 hours per week.

Your CPT must be authorized for either part-time or full-time. If there is a change in the number of hours per week you work that will change your part-time or full-time authorization, you must have new CPT authorization before you change your work schedule. A change in part-time/full-time CPT authorization requires a new CPT application.

Students must be able to demonstrate their employment correlates with a specific course and explain how it relates to that course and/or degree program for the duration of their CPT employment.

 Types of Employment

  • Multiple employers: CPT authorization is specific to one employer. If you have more than one employer, or if you switch employers, you must submit a new CPT application for each employer. All jobs must be related to your field and tied to a course you are/will be enrolled in. All CPT applications are subject to ISGSS processing times.
  • Paid Vs. Unpaid CPT: CPT authorization is required for all paid practical training experiences. Payment includes any remuneration or compensation, such as money, meals, lodging, transportation, etc. CPT for unpaid practical training experiences is strongly recommended. If the unpaid experience is directly related to your degree program, you should seek CPT authorization. 
  • Work for hire: Commonly referred to as 1099 or Independent Contractor Employment. You should keep evidence of the duration of contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Employment through an agency firm is also allowed.
  • Per federal regulations, you may not seek employment based on enrollment in a certificate program or minor.

You are encouraged to use many career-related resources available to Lewis University students.

 Working Without Authorization

Potential consequences of accepting a paid or unpaid practical training opportunity without proper authorization may include:

  • termination of your I-20/SEVIS record and loss of your F-1 benefits, including on-campus employment and OPT.
  • potential accrual of unlawful presence
  • ineligibility for future visas that allow for work authorization, such as H-1B, O-1, TN, or permanent residency.
  • denial of your USCIS application for OPT.

You should meet with an ISGSS advisor as soon as you become aware that you have violated your F-1 status.

 CPT Application Process

CPT Application Form

You must submit your CPT application AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE your employment start date to ensure you are authorized to work on time. If you submit your application later than that, we cannot guarantee that you will be authorized to work by your requested start date of employment. Please note that F-1 students are required to have their CPT I-20 in hand on their first day of employment.

STEP 1: You should be F-1 visa compliant.
You must be enrolled in classes, be in good academic standing, and maintain good academic standing throughout the duration of employment.

STEP 2: Receive a job offer – but do not accept it yet.
Seek a position that is integral to or directly related to your program of study. Important: remember that CPT applications require thorough review so please select an employment start date that allows for ISGSS processing time. The job offer letter should include ALL the following information:

  • Student’s full name
  • Job title
  • Job description
  • Work hours (per immigration regulation)
    • Part time 20 hours or less per week
    • Full-time more than 20 hours per week/ maximum of 40 hours per week
  • Start and end date of employment
  • Employer’s name, title, address, email, phone number, & signature
  • Company letter head

STEP 3: Complete the CPT application form.

  • You should complete section 1 of the CPT application form.

  • If your proposed training is not required for graduation, you should complete section 1a, list specific course/s that the CPT internship will be tied/linked to and include a copy of your Degree Works page summary in a PDF format.

    • To find the course description of a specific course, click this video or follow the instructions below:

      • Go to https://lewisu.edu/index.htm
      • Click Academics tab
      • on Degrees & Programs, click on your specific program (undergraduate/ graduate/ etc)
      • Find your specific major or program of study.
      • Scroll down and look for “view the program curriculum.”
      • Click on the course number to view the course description.

  • Have your employer complete Section II of the CPT application form.

STEP 4: Send your CPT application form with section 1 and 2 completed along with your job offer letter to your Academic Advisor.

Only completed CPT applications will be reviewed. Incomplete CPT applications will be rejected and must be resubmitted once they have been properly completed. CPT applications that are resubmitted will be subject to the 15-business day processing.

STEP 5: Your academic advisor needs to fill out section III of the CPT application form.
Your academic advisor will email your completed application to the ISGSS office for final review. Important: remember that CPT applications require thorough review so please select an employment start date that allows for ISGSS processing time. 

STEP 6: Receive your CPT I-20 from ISGSS.
You will receive your updated I-20 with CPT authorization within 5 business days. Once received, you must review and verify that the dates, part-time/full-time, and employer name and location are correct. You can only work for the employer and dates you are authorized. Sign and date page 1 of your I-20 in blue ink if all the information is correct.

Make sure to keep all copies of your previously issued I-20 for your own permanent records.

 Changes to current CPT / Extension of CPT

During your CPT authorization, you must:

  • Report changes in U.S. residential address in MyLewis Portal and email ISGSS@lewisu.edu within 10 days.
  • Report changes in permanent foreign address in your MyLewis Portal and email ISGSS@lewisu.eduU within 10 days.
  • Complete your CPT course.
    • If you are unable to complete your CPT course, or you are unable to complete your CPT experience, contact ISGSS (ISGSS@lewisu.edu) and your academic advisor immediately.
  • Changes to current CPT: must be reported and emailed to the ISGSS@lewisu.edu immediately.
  • Extension or change of employer: you must submit a letter from your previous employer stating you no longer work for them or get a letter with an updated end date of employment. You will have to repeat step 1 in applying for CPT again for your new employer.
  • Keep proof of your CPT experience for your permanent records.

 When Your CPT Ends

  • Stop working on the end date of your CPT authorization on page 2 of your CPT I-20.
  • You do not need a new I-20 at the end of CPT. The I-20 is still valid until the program end date on page 1 if you continue to maintain your full-time enrollment. 
  • You should keep proof of your CPT experience for your permanent records.
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