What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? Eligibility, How to Apply & Benefits

By Neha Kumari Updated On - Feb 23, 2022 09:29 AM

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an authorization issued by the US International Centres to international students who want to gain practical work experience which is directly related to their academic course at a US university, through employment or an internship, etc.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an authorization granted to international students in the United States having an F1 visa to gain work experience and practical learning experience through a training programme offered off-campus while completing their academic course. The CPT is granted by the International Centres to eligible international students.

The purpose of CPT is to provide practical work experience to international students while they complete their academic course at an institution in the US. The work experience is counted in the academic programme and students who successfully complete CPT are granted additional credit hours.

CPT is offered in various formats like an internship, independent study, practical training or problems course. Students can take help from the academic adviser and depending on their academic course they can choose the CPT. Students must get enrolled in the CPT course for each semester of the academic programme.

While studying abroad certain aspects start taking a center stage in international students lives, such as study-work balance. In order to properly prepare and ensure that not only your time is properly utlised but also your studies do not get hampered we recommend our experienced study abroad professionals along with their experience. Consult Them about which job shall be best for you to undertake with your course.

Want to Know About Other Study-Work Options in the US?

CPT Rules and Regulations

Here are the rules pertaining to curricular practical training (CPT):

  • The training should be directly related to the student’s area of study.

  • The training will be an integral part of the established curriculum of the school. 

  • The student’s designated school official (DSO) may authorise CPT during their first semester if the graduate program requires this type of experience.

  • The DSO will provide the student with a new form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status'', that makes it official that the DSO has approved the student for this employment.

  • CPT occurs before the student’s end date of the program, as mentioned on the Form I-20.

  • Authorisation is for one employer and only for a specific period of time.

  • The student must have an opportunity at hand before CPT can be authorised. 

  • CPT is authorised before the student begins work. 

  • A student is allowed to have more than one CPT authorisation at the same time.

  • One-year of full-time CPT shall eliminate a student’s eligibility for OPT.

  • Part-time CPT for a year will let a student do OPT.

  • CPT authorisation is only required when the job is in the United States and not in the student's home country.

Also Read: Difference Between OPT and CPT for International Students

Eligibility Criteria to Receive CPT

Following are the minimum requirements to receive CPT in the United States:

  • Must be on an active F-1 Visa.

  • Must be enrolled in a full-time program for at least a full academic year. An exception is applicable to those in graduate studies requiring earlier training.

  • Must have a job offer before applying for CPT. 

  • Must not study English as a second language.

  • The job role offered must be directly related to the field of study.

  • Must have secured a job at training position. The job must provide training and practical learning experience for further studies.

  • Must have a recommendation from the academic advisor before applying for CPT.

  • CPT is an academic training programme, so students must earn at least one hour of credit for work experience.

Types of CPT

Two specific types of CPT are available for international students wishing to gain professional experience during their studies. In the US, students can opt for a CPT in both full-time and part-time format. The only difference between full-time CPT and part-time CPT is the duration of the programme.

  • Full-Time CPT: The duration of full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week. During fall and winter terms, students must be enrolled full-time or get an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).

  • Part-Time CPT: The duration of part-time CPT is less than or equal to 20 hours per week. Simultaneously, the student must be enrolled in classes full-time and be present on campus in order to maintain their F-1 status during fall and winter terms. 

How to Apply for CPT? 

All international students aspiring to gain additional practical or work experience alongside their studies will be required to complete the application process for a CPT in the US. To apply for CPT, one must have a job offer from an employer in the United States (US). After receiving the offer letter for a job or training, interested candidates must follow the steps given below:

Step Action
1 The student must request CPT using the established procedure of the school
2 The DSO reviews the student's request and determines their eligibility.
3 The DSO authorises CPT in SEVIS for a certain employer, prints and signs Form I-20 with authorisation for CPT.
4 The student begins work after the start date of CPT.

Step 1:  Request CPT Using the Established Procedure of the School

For this, follow the steps mentioned below, although it may vary from one school to another:

  • Take the CPT Online Certification Course and print CPT Online Workshop Completion Email.

  • Speak with the employer and obtain a Detailed Training Description.

  • Meet with the DSO to discuss the description of training.

  • Gather all required documentation and submit CPT I-20 Request at the university either online or offline (as asked by the university).

Step 2: The DSO Reviews the Student's Request

If the DSO believes that the training is integral to the program and they find the student eligible, the DSO will approve the CPT.

Step 3: The DSO Authorises CPT in SEVIS

The DSO will create a CPT I-20 showing their approval. Normal processing time for the same is 1 to 2 weeks. Once the CPT I-20 is ready, the student will get an e-mail, until which no work, paid or unpaid, must take place. The CPT I-20 will include the CPT authorisation and contain the name of the employer along with the dates of the training. The new I-20 permit is mandatory for international students to begin working with an employer. Also, it should be noted that the I-20 is not transferable to another employer, nor will the students be allowed to work beyond the date mentioned in the new I-20.

Step 4: Begin Work

The student must make sure to sign and date their CPT I-20 and keep it permanently in their personal files. They are now ready to start their CPT employment.

Also Read: Entrance Exams to Study in USA

Documents Needed to Apply for CPT 

As mentioned above, international students are required to submit a list of documents along with the CPT application form. Here is the list of documents needed to apply for CPT:

  • CPT Authorisation Request Form

  • Academic Advisor recommendation form for CPT

  • A detailed description of training from the employer. It should be written on the company's letterhead, be addressed to the student, include job title, provide job description in detail, specify street address of employment, specify number of work hours, specify start and end dates of CPT employment.

  • Photocopy of current I-20

  • Photocopy of Form I-94 

  • Unofficial transcript of CPT course enrollment

Extension of CPT Authorisation 

The US government allows the CPT authorization to be cancelled, shortened or extended. In all these cases, students will have to contact the International Student Advisor.

In case the employment is extended beyond the dates mentioned in the I- 20, the respective student must request an extension of the CPT, at least one week before the date of expiration. Students interested in extending their CPT duration are required to follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Fill in the new online document request. 

  • Submit the new CPT agreement form. It must also be signed by the academic advisor.

  • Enrol in the new CPT course for the new semester (as requested). 

  • The processing for the CPT extension will take another five business days.

Also Read: List of Documents Required for USA Visa Application for Indian Students

Benefits of CPT 

There are several benefits to applying for a CPT in the US. Here are some of the benefits of a CPT for international students in the United States:

Earn Money: CPT allows students to work on a part-time or full-time basis off-campus with an employer while studying. The opportunity to work while studying, without it affecting one's studies, allows students to gain additional income during your stay abroad. The wages paid in CPT are usually levelled with wages paid to US citizens in any other role. While training opportunities could also be unpaid, CPT employment does add value to the program and enhances their learning experience.

Work Experience: CPT employment also provides students with the knowledge and skills to work in a professional environment before they start working in the industry of their dreams. It further gives them an opportunity to gain practical experience while being enrolled in an academic programme.

Maintaining F-1 Visa Status: CPT authorisation is a way of reporting the SEVIS of the student's activity, location and employement and therefore maintaining their F-1 status.

Better Career Prospects Post-Graduation: With skills and experiences gathered on CPT, students are more likely to be offered jobs at reputed US organisations. A CPT employement gives a recruiter the assurance that the student has the required skills and hands-on experience needed for the job.

Networking: CPT employment will give the student an edge in establishing business connections even when they are enrolled in a program. This will further help them in establishing in their field, enhancing their resume and establishing a list of references for future.

Curricular Practical Training is a necessary aspect in an international students study abroad experience. Depending on the course they choose, applying for a CPT if they have an internship offer (paid or unpaid) may be necessary. Therefore, be connected with your academic advisor for any advice and suggestions that can help you choose the right CPT programme and also make the right decisions regarding your higher education studies in the US.

If you are interested in studying in the US, then go through the Study Abroad by CollegeDekho website and browse through our list of US universities. You can also check out the different programmes offered by the universities, among other amenities and facilities.

You can clear out your doubts and questions regarding international education and admissions by reaching out to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.

Need Further Information About CPT?

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