Forms and Documents
Definition of Curricular Practical Training
The Immigration Service defines "curricular practical training" as employment which is an integral or important part of your 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.”
Job Eligibility Requirements
To be considered for curricular practical training, the work must not only be related to your major field of study but must also be an integral or important part of your studies. Training, which is required by your degree program, always meets the requirements for curricular practical training, regardless of whether or not you receive academic credit for your work.
Training, which is not required by your degree program, may meet the requirements for curricular practical training if you receive academic credit for the employment experience and if it is an integral part of your studies. If you have a training opportunity that involves employment, check with ISS to determine if it qualifies as curricular practical training.
Student Eligibility Requirements
- One Year Academic Requirement: An F-1 student (undergraduate or graduate) must have completed one full academic year (nine months) in order to be eligible for CPT. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in curricular practical training.
- Valid F-1 Status: The student must be maintaining valid F-1 status
- Before Completion of Studies: CPT can only be used before a student completes his/her studies.
- English Language Students: Students enrolled in English language training programs are not eligible for curricular practical training.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Curricular Practical Training
- Part-Time Training: Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are also enrolled for classes is considered "part-time" curricular practical training. The employment authorization will be entered on page 3 of your Form I-20 and will specify permission to engage in "part-time" training. You must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training but you must be simultaneously full-time enrolled in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
- Full-Time Training: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered "full-time" curricular practical training. The employment authorization on the Form I-20 will specify permission to participate in "full-time" training. University policy states that an individual may not be a full time student and full time employee at the same time. Therefore, participation in full-time CPT for thesis or dissertation students who are full-time certified is not permitted.
Curricular Practical Training and Eligibility for Optional Practical Training
It is important that you understand that if you participate in twelve months or more of "full-time" curricular training, you lose eligibility to apply for twelve months of optional practical training after you complete your studies. Participation in "part-time" training programs does not affect your eligibility for post-completion practical training.
Application and Authorization Procedures
1) You will need a letter from your professor/department indicating
- that the work is related to your field of study AND
- that you will either receive credit for the work and/or
- the work is an integral part of your thesis or dissertation.
2) A letter from the company outlining the training. The letter needs to include, your title, the duties of the position, begin and end date of the position and the supervisor’s name.
The PDSO or DSO will evaluate your situation and the proposed employment opportunity to make certain that both you and the job meet the eligibility requirements. Also bring with you to the meeting your I-20 and passport. If all eligibility requirements are met, the DSO will authorize either part-time or full-time curricular practical training in SEVIS and a new I-20 will be issued with the CPT authorization noted on page 3. You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted an extension of your permission to work.
Employment Eligibility Verification
When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled "Employment Eligibility Verification" (BCIS Form I-9). The I-9 must be updated each time you renew your work permission.
Social Security and Other Taxes
Social Security 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.) withholding.
Federal, State and Local Taxes: The earnings of F-1 students are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and these amounts should be withheld from paychecks. You must file an income tax return on or before April 15 of each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be reclaimed.
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.
Failure to Comply with Employment Regulations
It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations, which apply to F-1 students. The International Students and Scholars Staff have the responsibility for advising and counseling you regarding your responsibilities. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and, in some situations, you may be subject to deportation.
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