Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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.” 

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 valid F-1 status for at least one academic year of study in the U.S. as a full-time, college degree-seeking student. Time studying in an intensive English or conditional admission pathway program does not count toward the one year of eligibility.
  • 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 CPT Course Registration Instructions below)

For graduate students who have finished required coursework and are currently in the thesis/dissertation stage, CPT will only be authorized if the employment opportunity is necessary for completion of the thesis/dissertation.

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

CPT Course Registration Instructions

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. The course should generally be completed during the same period for which you are requesting CPT authorization. Generally coursework cannot be added by the student in BannerWeb and requires approval through a department. Determine which office to work with to register for the necessary coursework.

Undergraduate Students

  • Admits to the Digital Innovation Program: Contact Erin Brandyberry for help with registration.
  • All other undergraduate students: Work with the Center for Career Exploration & Success to register for an internship course through Handshake.
    • When submitting your request, choose “Curricular Internship” or “Co-Curricular Internship” because your internship must directly relate to your major program of study.
    • Your request will be reviewed by a Departmental Internship Coordinator. If you receive approval, your Internship Coordinator and the Center for Career Exploration & Success will help you register in an internship course. The Center provides a list of Departmental Internship Coordinators. See the list of Departmental Internship Coordinators at Center for Career Exploration & Success and search for your major to learn your Internship Coordinator.

Graduate Students

  • If you are still completing academic coursework in your degree program, you will work with the Center for Career Exploration & Success to register for an internship course through Handshake
    • When submitting your request, choose “Curricular Internship” or “Co-Curricular Internship” because your internship must directly relate to your major program of study.
    • Your request will be reviewed by a Departmental Internship Coordinator. If you receive approval, your Internship Coordinator and the Center for Career Exploration & Success will help you register in an internship course. The Center provides a list of Departmental Internship Coordinators. See the list of Departmental Internship Coordinators at Center for Career Exploration & Success and search for your major to learn your Internship Coordinator.
  • If you have completed all required coursework for your program, CPT will only be authorized if the employment opportunity directly relates to and is required for your thesis/dissertation. Register for thesis or dissertation credits with the help of your graduate department.

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!

When should you apply for CPT?

Once you are registered in a course that links your employment to your curriculum, you may submit your CPT request in InterLink. Your complete CPT request should be submitted to ISSS at least 2 weeks prior to your employment start date in order to allow sufficient time to process your request. You may NOT begin working until you have obtained CPT work authorization from ISSS!

Note that CPT is approved for no more than one semester at a time. If your job will continue beyond the end of the semester, you will need to register in coursework related to your employment opportunity for the following semester or term as well. Your registration must be completed before you apply for CPT in InterLink, so be sure to allow sufficient time. ISSS recommends you submit 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.

CPT Application Process

Materials Required

  • Job offer letter which meets all requirements as detailed in The Job Offer section. Please check—most employers do not issue job offer letters that provide all required information. It is very common to have to request missing information.
  • Registration in relevant course (see CPT Registration instructions) is complete for the term in which you are seeking CPT authorization. Please check BannerWeb and confirm before submission.

Application Process

  1. Follow CPT Course Registration Instructions above to register in the necessary course.
  2. Confirm your internship course enrollment in BannerWeb.
  3. Log in to your InterLink account using your UniqueID and password. Go to “F-1 Practical Training” and complete the e-form “Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request.”
  4. Once you complete the e-form request, your Internship Coordinator will receive an email message from ISSS, which will provide a link to review your request.
  5. After your Internship Coordinator comments on your e-form request, ISSS will review your request. You will be contacted by email after your request is processed. If you are eligible for CPT, ISSS will process your CPT authorization and issue a new I-20. Your new I-20 will automatically receive a travel signature from ISSS.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between CPT and OPT?

CPT is Curricular Practical Training and therefore 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»

Additionally, CPT does not have an application fee (OPT does) and applications are processed by ISSS, whereas OPT applications are processed by the U.S. government.

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 likely retain their full eligibility for 12 months of OPT for that degree level. Part-time CPT typically has no effect on OPT eligibility.

At this time, the combination of utilizing both CPT and OPT is being reviewed more carefully by USCIS. If you have additional questions about this, please schedule an appointment with an ISSS Advisor.

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 within the same semester or term, email international@MiamiOH.edu at least two weeks 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 CPT Application Process above). Plan ahead, because you’ll need to submit your request in Handshake and work with your Departmental Internship Coordinator to register for the class before submitting your CPT application, which ISSS must receive 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 request in Handshake and then once that is approved, submit a new application for CPT in InterLink (see CPT 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 be eligible for CPT only 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 to the U.S. 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 U.S. For information about how to apply, please see Social Security.