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F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows F-1 students to participate in paid off-campus employment in their academic field, such as a credit-bearing internship or research job.

CPT is defined as employment which is related to your studies and is an integral or important part of your curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)].

Do NOT begin any off-campus employment without prior authorization. The International Services Office (ISO) is not able to grant CPT work permission with an effective start date in the past. Therefore, students who would otherwise be eligible for CPT, but begin working before ISO grants specific permission, violate their F-1 status.

Eligibility and Requirements

Students must maintain valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (nine months: two semesters or three quarters) before becoming eligible to apply for CPT. In some cases, full-time study permitted under another status may be used to meet this condition. You must be in good academic standing and continue to make satisfactory progress toward your degree requirements. You are NOT eligible for CPT after completing your University of Rochester degree or program requirements.

All CPT requests are subject to academic approval, even if other eligibility requirements are met. The training activity must achieve a specific academic objective and satisfy an established part of the school's program. This falls under one of these categories:

  • Registered course credit for the academic activity
  • Recognized co-op program listed in the University catalogue
  • Requirement for all students pursuing a particular degree program

At the University of Rochester, most CPT authorizations are based on registered course credit for the internship or other appropriate employment. For authorization that extends beyond a single academic term, additional course registration may be necessary.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Authorization

The CPT authorization will specify either part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (no maximum) employment, for a particular employer, dates, and location. CPT can be granted over multiple periods during your studies and are not limited by immigration rules, provided academic approval is satisfied.

However, the use of full-time CPT authorization may affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) . Using more than 12 months of full-time CPT makes a student ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Part-time CPT does not impact OPT eligibility. Therefore, students who use less than 12 months of full-time CPT and/or any amount of part-time CPT are still able to apply for F-1 OPT, which is commonly used for work permission after graduation.

Authorization Procedures

When all eligibility requirements are met and you are able to submit the required documentation, an ISO advisor will authorize the Curricular Practical Training in SEVIS and issue a new I-20. Submit your CPT request to ISO at least one week in advance of your employment start date to allow for processing.

You may begin working only after receiving the I-20 with CPT authorization and valid employment dates. All academic procedures must be followed within your division, including grading requirements for credit-bearing internships.

Please attend ISO's upcoming Academic Internships During an F-1 Academic Program workshop (or review the recording in Event Archives) for more information about work authorization options available to F-1 students seeking employment opportunities during their studies. Quick 5-10 minute consultations via student drop-in hours and 30-minute appointments with an immigration advisor are available, as needed, following attendance/review of the workshop.

Documentation required to request CPT

  1. Detailed Offer Letter, on employer letterhead, including:
    -          Official Employer Name, to be listed in SEVIS
    -          Employer's Address (street address, including US zip code)
    -          Address of employment, if different from Employer's Address
    -          Start Date/End Date, and the expected number of hours per week
    -          Job title and description of duties
  2. Evidence of Academic Objective, as appropriate:

    For most students at UR, internship course registration is required to participate in off-campus employment opportunities. Please talk to your department/school first about the appropriate course registration for your CPT and submit your registration, because it needs to be complete before ISO can process your request. For undergraduate students in the College, please meet with a career advisor at the Gwen M. Greene Center.

    All CPTs require one of the following: 
    - Course credit: ALC 290 (Eastman), GBA 490 (Simon), 394/494/594 (ASE, Hajim), CAS 394i (UG College), etc.
    - Co-op program: Registration or copy of University catalogue with co-op details
    - Degree requirement: Copy of University catalogue with degree requirements

Then, submit ISO's Request for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) e-form in URcompass. Your academic department will have to review your submission, so you will be prompted to provide the contact information for your correct academic contact in the form.

If you are unsure who the correct academic contact is for CPT in your school, please reach out to your academic advisor or department administrator to confirm.

After your CPT has been authorized in SEVIS, the new I-20 listing the CPT authorization on page 2 will be emailed to you. You must print this I-20 and sign/date it in ink. Do not start work until you have received this I-20 and have verified the authorization details on page 2!