Written by: Lara Jennings, International Student and Scholar Advisor
Summer Internship or Practicum opportunities are great ways of gaining practical experience in your field of study and sometimes even a required part of your program.
As an F-1 student, you are able to participate in these opportunities but you must make sure you obtain proper work authorization before starting so you do not violate your status. Curricular Practical Training or CPT is one of the most common types of work authorization available for students during their academic program that authorizes students for work opportunities off-campus or for practicums.
Here are some highlights you should know about CPT!
- Curricular Practical Training or CPT is work authorization that allows you to work in off-campus positions such as internships, cooperative education programs and practicum programs that are deemed to be an integral part of your academic experience. Each school, college and program have their own set of eligibility requirements that the work experience must meet. And remember, work whether paid or unpaid (volunteer work) is still considered work in the eyes of the government and must be authorized!
- In order to be eligible for CPT students must meet both the academic and immigration requirements. From an immigration standpoint, students must be in lawful full-time status for a full academic year (both fall and spring semesters) in order to be eligible for practical training. There are some exceptions to this rule when certain graduate programs require trainings to be undertaken earlier. Your next step is to get approval from your school who will make sure the position you found meets their requirements from an academic side. You will complete a CPT request form with your school (most often your Academic Advisor) and submit it to your OISS Advisor so they may approve you for CPT and issue you a new I-20.
- You cannot start your position until you receive your new I-20. The start and end dates and employer information are listed on the new I-20. You are only allowed to work in your position within the dates listed on your I-20. CPT can only be requested per semester and there is no exception to this. Students who wish to continue their practical training to the following semester must reapply and be issued a new I-20.
- As always, if you have any questions, issues or concerns about work authorization and internships/off-campus work, never hesitate to reach out to your OISS Advisor! Because each school does CPT a little bit differently (different academic/course requirements) your advisor can help talk you through the process that you will need to follow.
See more CPT and other types of F-1 student employment opportunities.