Office of International Programs (OIP)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
for F-1 Students

What Is CPT?

What Is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

This type of off-campus work is defined as employment which is an integral part of your established curriculum including: alternate work/study; internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

CPT permission is obtained from the Office of International Programs (not USCIS). The employment authorization will be indicated on page 3 of your I-20 which will include the signature of the International Student Advisor.

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CPT Eligibility Requirements


  • Be in valid F-1 student status and have been enrolled full-time for one academic year (two semesters; Summer does not count).
    Exception: Internship is required in the first or second semester (i.e. Social Work, Counseling, Nursing). Graduate students only.



  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.0 (Undergraduate students) or 3.0 (Graduate students).
  • Be enrolled in full course of study or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).
  • Must register for an internship, fieldwork, practicum, cooperative educationor other course specifically designed for experiential or practical learning and listed in the SF State Bulletin as such. Internship class in which you are waitlisted do not count. CPT will not be granted for Independent Study and Special Study courses.
  • The units that a student earns for the internship experience must be used towards the student鈥檚 degree requirements. Graduate students must be able to use the internship units on the ATC form.
  • Students who have already completed all of the coursework required for their degree and are working on their thesis are not eligible for CPT. They should consider applying for Optional (Thesis) Practical Training .


  • Job must be directly related to your major field of study
  • Job offer is required.

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Types of CPT

Part-Time Training:
Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are also enrolled in classes is considered "part-time" CPT. The employment authorization written on the third page of your I-20 should therefore specify permission to engage in "part-time" training and you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week.

Full-Time Training:
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered "full-time" CPT and the employment authorization on your I-20 should, in this case, specify permission to participate in "full-time" training.

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Duration of CPT

CPT authorization is granted on a semester-by-semester basis, even if the proposed training period is more than one semester long.

Period of authorized employment will begin no earlier than the first day of instruction and must end no later than the last day of final exams for the semester. For example, if the semester runs from January 26 through May 25, then the student may not work before January 26 or after May 25.

F-1 regulations do not limit the amount of CPT you may be granted prior to completing your degree requirements. The limitation depends on the curricular requirements and options of your degree program.

Note: The time you spend on CPT will not be deducted from your 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) as long as you use less than 12 months full-time CPT. If, however, you spend 12 months or more on full-time CPT, you will lose all eligibility for OPT.

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When to Apply for CPT

You need to get CPT authorization BEFORE beginning employment. CPT cannot be post-dated. Plan ahead.

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CPT Application Procedures

All applicants are required to review the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Online Information and Application Workshop BEFORE submitting CPT application materials to OIP. The application materials must be submit in an envelope (with the cover sheet) to the OIP front desk anytime between Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM

An F1 advisor will review your application within 5 business days (excluding weekends and holidays). Once approved, you will be contacted to pick up the I-20 with CPT authorization at OIP.

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CPT Application Checklist

Please make sure that you are registered full-time in the current semester (including the internship class) or already have an approved RCL before submitting the CPT application to OIP:

  • CPT Application Cover Sheet
  • Completed and signed Curricular Practical Training Authorization Form (2 pages). The Authorization Form can only be downloaded from Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Online Information and Application Workshop,

    Undergraduate Business
    major: This form must be signed by the advisor in the Student Services Center, College of Business (Room 112), not your faculty advisor.

    MBA/MSA major: This form must be signed by Jeffery Chun, Assistant Director of the MBA program, not your faculty advisor nor your Thesis reader.

  • Employer鈥檚 letter
    1. Letter must be typed on official company letterhead stationery and must contain the employer's original signature
    2. Original only. Fax and scanned documents are not acceptable.
    3. See template. If your employer chooses not to use the template, the information in bold in the template needs to be included in the letter.
  • Photocopy of the identification page(s) in your passport (must include name, current expiration date, and photo)
  • I-94 admissions verification printout from (If you entered the U.S. prior to April 30, 2013, provide a front and back copy of the I-94 card stapled to inside of your passport)
  • Original or photocopy of your most current I-20

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Sample Letter From Employer

(For use with Curricular Practical Training )


To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is written to support the application for ( part-time/full-time, number of hours ) Curricular Practical Training of ( Name of student ).

( Name of student ) has been offered a job as a ( occupation/job title of student ) and will be working for ( name of company ) beginning on ( date student is to begin employment ). We expect to continue to employ ( name of student ) through ( date student is expect to end employment ). This period of employment corresponds to the time allowable for ( name of student ) 's practical training period and is needed for ( her/him ) to complete the training we provide. ( Name of student )'s duties will include ( provide a brief description of duties, relating the task(s) performed to the student's prior training and experience ).

( Name of Company ) therefore respectfully request that the application of ( name of student ) to accept ( her/his ) period of curricular practical training be granted.


(Name and Title of Company Officer)

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After You Apply For CPT

Application Processing Time

Within 5 business days, the international student advisor will authorize CPT employment in SEVIS and on the 3rd page of your I-20. You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted new permission to work.

You will not receive a response from USCIS. Once approved, CPT will be counted whether or not you actually work for the entire authorized period of employment.

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Additional Information about CPT

Change of Employer

CPT is authorized for specific employer. If you change employers, or if you change from part-time to full-time employment, you must re-apply for a new CPT authorization. You cannot make the change until you have received the new CPT authorization from OIP, or you will be working without authorization (i.e 鈥渨orking illegally鈥).

Employment Eligibility Verification

When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled "Employment Eligibility Verification" (USCIS Form I-9), which the employer retains. The I -9 must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission.

Social Security and Other Taxes

In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes. Your earnings, however, are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be refunded.

A Note of Caution

While USCIS regulations provide a variety of opportunities for you to be employed during your time in F-1 status, working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with the international student advisor before taking up any employment.

See Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Online Information and Application Workshop FAQ section for more CPT information.

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