Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Definition

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization required for currently-enrolled F-1 students who wish to engage in off-campus employment that is directly related to their major field of study. Regulations state that an F-1 student may be authorized to participate in a CPT program that is “an integral part of an established curriculum.” CPT is further defined in the regulations as: “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” 8CFR§214.2(f)(10)(i)

Eligibility

All CPT applications will be reviewed carefully by ISSS, and ISSS reserves the right to deny CPT applications that do not meet requirements. To be eligible for CPT, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have held a valid F-1 status for at least one year of study in the US as a full-time student.
  • You must currently be pursuing a degree at Miami University
  • You must have a job offer for a position that is directly related to your major
  • You must register for a course that links your employment to your curriculum (see The Curricular Requirement below)

When should you apply for CPT?

Your complete CPT request must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to your employment start date in order to give ISSS sufficient time to process your request. You may NOT begin working until you have obtained authorization from ISSS!

Note that CPT is processed for no more than one semester at a time. If your job will continue for more than one semester, you will need to reapply for CPT at least 2 weeks before your CPT expiration date in order to ensure that you will be able to continue working without a gap in authorization.

Academic Year Versus Break Periods

Most students who wish to pursue full-time CPT do so during university break periods – particularly during the summer. Because you are not required to enroll during winter or summer break, this can be an ideal time to pursue an internship. However, if you wish to apply for CPT authorization during the regular academic year (Fall or Spring semester), please note that you are still required to enroll full-time (12 credits for undergraduates or 9 credits for graduate students) unless it is your final semester of study and you have been approved for a reduced course load. You will not be permitted to take a reduced course load (prior to your final semester) in order to pursue CPT. In addition, you must continue to make normal progress toward degree completion while engaged in CPT.

The Curricular Requirement

Because CPT must be “an integral part of an established curriculum” you are required to enroll in a course that links your employment to your curriculum at Miami. The course can be a 0-credit hour internship course if that is available, or a 1-credit (or more) independent study or research course. If you are not sure what courses are available through your department or what course you should register for, please consult with your academic advisor. Note that you must enroll in the course during the period in which you will be participating in your CPT employment. If your CPT will continue for more than one semester, you must enroll in an appropriate course for each semester that you participate in CPT.

Note: Withdrawing from the course that is linked to your CPT work authorization immediately cancels the CPT authorization. Work done without CPT authorization is illegal and a violation of status!

Graduate students who have completed all required coursework and have only thesis/dissertation/final project remaining have two options:

  • If your CPT employment is directly and substantially related to your thesis/dissertation/final project, you will be required to enroll in thesis or research credit during the period of your CPT employment. Note that a 0-credit hour course is typically permitted (and considered “full-time”) for up to 2 semesters at the end of student’s degree program while they are completing their thesis/dissertation/final project.
  • If your CPT employment is related to your degree, but not directly related to your thesis/dissertation/final project, you will be required to enroll in an internship course or independent study during the period of your CPT employment.

The Job Offer

CPT is “job-specific” meaning that it is authorized for a specific job and for the specific amount of time that you will be employed. Therefore, a job offer letter is required in order to apply for CPT. You will upload the job offer letter as part of your online request (see CPT Application Process below). The job offer letter must be printed on company letterhead and signed, and must include the following:

  • Your start date and end date
  • The number of hours per week that you will be working – it is not sufficient for it to say “part-time” or “full-time” (see Part-time versus Full-time below)
  • The physical location (street address, city, state, and ZIP code) where the job will be conducted – P.O. Boxes are not acceptable
  • Job title and description

Note: If the job offer letter issued to you by your employer does not contain all of the necessary information, please ask your employer to write an additional memo including the missing formation and upload this along with your official job offer letter when requesting CPT.

Part-time Versus Full-time

Regulations define part-time employment as 20 hours per week or less. Anything over 20 hours per week is considered full-time employment.

CPT Application Process

  • Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your plans for CPT. When you apply for CPT, your academic advisor will be asked to provide information about how your employment will be directly related to your major. Therefore, he or she will need to see your job offer letter and understand the position you have been offered. Your academic advisor can also discuss your options for a CPT-appropriate course for you to enroll in. If your advisor has questions, please have him or her contact ISSS for assistance.
  • Register for the appropriate course (see The Curricular Requirement above) and confirm your enrollment in BannerWeb.
  • Login to your InterLink account (click the blue login button) using your unique ID and password. Go to “F-1 Student Services” and complete the e-form “Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request.”
  • Once you complete the e-form request, your academic advisor will need to review it. Your advisor will receive an e-mail message from ISSS which will provide a link to review your request. 
  • After your advisor comments on your e-form request, ISSS will review your request. You will be contacted by e-mail after your request is processed. If you are eligible for CPT, ISSS will process your CPT authorization and print a new I-20. Your new I-2- will automatically receive a travel signature from ISSS.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between CPT and OPT?

CPT may only be used by students who are currently pursuing a degree at Miami University. It may not be used prior to the start of a degree program or after completion of a degree program. OPT is typically used after completion of a degree program. View more information about OPT»

Will CPT affect my eligibility for OPT?

Students who engage in a total of 12 months or more of full-time CPT at a particular degree level will lose their eligibility to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for that degree level. Students who engage in less than 12 months of full-time CPT at a particular degree level will retain their full eligibility for 12 months of OPT for that degree level. Part-time CPT has no effect on OPT eligibility. View more information about OPT»

Can I apply for CPT after I have applied for OPT (for the same degree program)?

No. If you wish to apply for CPT for the final semester of your degree program, you must do so before applying for OPT. Once your OPT application has been submitted to USCIS you will no longer be eligible to apply for CPT.

Do I need CPT authorization for unpaid work?

If you will be pursuing an unpaid internship that is directly related to your major, ISSS strongly recommends that you apply for CPT authorization. If you are offered any compensation for your services (room, board, bonuses, etc.), this is considered employment and you MUST have authorization. In addition, you must be careful not to “volunteer” without pay for positions that would normally be paid. This is a violation of labor law.

How do I extend or shorten my CPT?

If you wish to shorten or extend your CPT authorization, please email international@MiamiOH.edu at least one week prior to the new end date of your CPT. We will ask for confirmation of your new end date from your employer.

If you wish to extend your CPT authorization for an additional semester (or even partway into the following semester), you will need to apply for a new period of CPT authorization (see Application Process above). You must do so at least two weeks prior to your current CPT expiration in order to avoid a gap in employment.

Can I change employers if I have CPT authorization? Can I work full-time instead of part-time, or vice-versa?

No. CPT is job-specific. You will be authorized to work for a specific employer at a specific location either part-time or full-time for a specific period of time. Any work done outside of this authorization would be a violation of legal status. If you wish to change employers, you will need to submit a new application for CPT (see Application Process above). If you wish to shorten your original CPT authorization period, please see the relevant FAQ above.

I am a non-degree student—can I have CPT?

You will only be eligible for CPT if you are pursuing an educational objective such as a certificate or licensure program. Students who are simply taking courses as a non-degree student (for example, taking prerequisites for a graduate program) are not eligible for CPT.

Can I have CPT for my minor?

No. CPT must be directly related to the student’s major field of study at Miami. Minors do not qualify.

I just finished ACE or another English language program—am I eligible for CPT?

A student studying English in an intensive English language training program is not eligible for practical training. In addition, time spent studying in an intensive English program for which you were issued a Language Training I-20 does not count toward the one year of full-time study that is required in order to be eligible for CPT.

I just transferred to Miami after studying at another U.S. school. Am I eligible for CPT or do I have to wait a year?

As long as you have been enrolled as a full-time student in the US for at least one academic year and have continuously maintained legal status, you are eligible for CPT. However, you must meet all other criteria for CPT and must enroll full-time each fall and spring semester. ISSS reserves the right to deny CPT applications if there are concerns about the job being an integral part of the student’s curriculum or about the student’s ability to make normal progress toward degree completion.

I just finished OPT and am beginning a new degree program at Miami. Am I eligible for CPT or do I have to wait a year?

As long as you have been enrolled as a full-time student in the US for at least one academic year and have continuously maintained legal status, you are eligible for CPT. However, you must meet all other criteria for CPT and must enroll full-time each fall and spring semester. ISSS reserves the right to deny CPT applications if there are concerns about the job being an integral part of the student’s curriculum or about the student’s ability to make normal progress toward degree completion.

Can I use CPT to engage in self-employment or open a business?

No. To apply for CPT, you must have a job offer from an established employer (someone other than yourself).

I have resumed my studies after a leave of absence or violation of status. Am I eligible for CPT?

No. After returning the US with a new initial I-20, your immigration “clock” starts over. You would have to complete one academic year as a full-time student in the US after your return in order to be eligible for practical training.

Am I eligible for a social security number if I have CPT? If so, how do I apply?

Yes, you are eligible for a social security number if you have an authorized job in the US. For information about how to apply, please see Social Security.