Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Not Sure Which Type of Work Authorization is Best?
Read our information comparing common F-1 off-campus employment authorizations to determine which is most appropriate for your situation.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work-authorization used for F-1 students to complete off-campus training experiences. The primary purpose of CPT is to gain practical experience in the student's field of study. The training experience must be an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to the student's major area of study. Since CPT is curricular in nature, the student must also enroll for a course that requires an off-campus training experience. CPT is not possible for all F-1 students because it is dependent on the academic requirements of a specific academic program.
Please note that “employment” is defined as any type of service for which a benefit, including academic credit, is received. Therefore, even if the student will not be paid for the internship, they should obtain CPT authorization.
To be eligible for CPT authorization you must meet the following requirements:
- You are currently in F-1 status and maintaining status.
- You have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (two semesters) at a U.S. school in your current field of study/major.
- Students who changed degree levels at UB, transferred from another U.S. school, or are continuing studies after OPT may be eligible for CPT after one semester at UB.
- An exception to this requirement is given to graduate students whose academic program requires immediate participation in an off-campus internship or field placement.
Policy guidance updated in April 2021 confirms that accrual for CPT is only counted if "the student is in Active status in SEVIS" therefore if you began your program outside the U.S. and later entered with an initial I-20, you are not eligible for CPT until you have been in enrolled full-time AND in F-1 status for one academic year.
The only exception is if the graduate program requires all students to participate in an internship/practicum within the first year of study.
- You have an internship/training experience offer that is directly related to your field of study and integral to your curriculum.
- You are registered for a course that requires the practical training experience. This course must be listed in the course catalog, specifically designed for a practical training experience, and be a minimum of one credit.
- The training experience will be evaluated by a faculty member at UB, will be graded and will appear on your transcript.
- Students approved for an Academic Reduced Course Load are not eligible for CPT during the same semester in which they are authorized to reduce their course load.
CPT will not be authorized in situations where Optional Practical Training is more appropriate or for work to be done after completion of your degree requirements.
Reminder for Students Returning from a Leave:
If you re-enter the U.S. using an Initial I-20 (i.e. an I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number), you not eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training until you complete one academic year (two semesters) as a full-time student after returning from your leave. Time spent as a full-time student prior to taking a Leave of Absence cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.
Authorization Dates & Application Deadlines
CPT authorization is semester specific. There are four semesters during which one may apply for CPT: Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer.
- CPT experiences must be directly linked to a specific course
- CPT cannot extend beyond the last day of exams for the semester in which the authorization is granted.
- CPT may begin before the semester starts; however, it cannot overlap with the previous semester. Refer to the chart below (under CPT Application Deadlines) when choosing your start and end dates.
- If granted CPT and additional time is needed, then a new CPT application, including course enrollment for the next semester is required.
- For summer CPT, it is important to consider the start and end date of the summer course used to qualify for CPT.
- If CPT authorization was granted in your final semester and you were also approved for a Final Semester Reduced Course Load in that semester, then your CPT cannot be extended into a future semester.
- ISS will not approve an I-20 Extension if the only reason for the extension is a non-required CPT.
If you are authorized for 12 or more months of full-time CPT, you will lose your eligibility for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training.
When considering CPT, it is important to plan ahead. Be aware of ISS application deadlines (see CPT Application Deadlines section below).
Applications will not be accepted after the application deadline.
CPT Application Deadlines
|Semester ||Application Deadline ||Earliest Start Date ||Latest End Date |
|Fall 2021 ||Friday, September 17 ||Saturday, August 21 ||Monday, December 20 |
|Winter 2022 ||Thursday, January 6 ||Tuesday, December 21 ||Tuesday, January 25 |
|Spring 2022 ||Friday, February 18 ||Wednesday, January 26 ||Saturday, May 21 |
(Sessions starting 5/31)
|Application Deadline is Add/Drop for Summer Session. Refer to Academic Calendarfor specific date. |
|Sunday, May 22 ||Last date of Summer Session; Refer to Academic Calendar for end dates |
|Application Deadline is Add/Drop for Summer Session. Refer to Academic Calendarfor specific date. |
|Tuesday, May 31 ||Last date of Summer Session; Refer to Academic Calendar for end dates |
*The University at Buffalo academic calendar is set by the Faculty Senate and University President, and dates may change at their discretion.
CPT Enrollment Requirements
If your department does not offer an internship, practicum or Co-Op, or no course meeting these requirements is available to you, then you may not be able to pursue this type of employment. Because CPT is directly linked to the curriculum of your department, not every F-1 student at UB will have the opportunity to utilize CPT.
To qualify for CPT, one must be enrolled in a course that is listed in the course catalog, specifically designed for a practical training experience, and be a minimum of one credit. Enrollment is required during each semester a CPT is requested (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).
- If applying for Fall or Spring CPT, you must be enrolled full-time or approved for Full-Time Certification (FTC) from the Graduate School (graduate students only) or have an approved Final Semester Reduced Course Load (RCL) before ISS can approve a CPT request.
- If applying for Summer or Winter CPT and it is your final semester, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Final Semester Reduced Course Load (RCL) before ISS can approve a CPT request. If Summer or Winter are not your final semester, then full-time enrollment is not required.
- If enrollment windows are open for future semester(s) in which you plan to enroll, you must be enrolled full-time (or equivalent) at the time of submitting your CPT request. This includes having submitted your Reduced Course Load request or having your FTC or Assistantship show up in your HUB Student Center. Please ensure that you have completed all required paperwork with your department.
FTC vs RCL: What's the Difference?
Full-Time Certification (FTC)
If you are a graduate student near the end of your program you may be eligible. Contact your department’s graduate coordinator (before the semester begins) to see if you qualify. If you qualify, you will file a form with your academic department and the Graduate School.
The Graduate School has Full-Time Certification forms on their website.
Reduced Course Load (RCL)
If you are an F-1 student who meets the eligibility requirements for one of the three types of Reduced Course loads, you may apply for this benefit through ISS.
Please note students approved for an Academic Reduced Course Load are not eligible for CPT during the same semester as the RCL.
Full-Time CPT (more than 20 hours of work per week) is not possible during a student's final semester of the program. Most CPT authorizations are limited to 20 hours of training per week (part-time). Full-time (more than 20 hours per week) is possible only if the following criteria are met.
- CPT is requested for the summer or winter term.
- The full-time internship is deemed equivalent to full-time enrollment. This must be stated in the course catalog.
- A full-time off-campus internship experience is required for all students in your degree program.
- CPT is requested for the summer or winter term (if it is not your final semester).
- The degree program requires an internship involving more than 20 hours of work per week (e.g. Counseling Psychology, Industrial Engineering, Audiology, Communicative Disorders, Athletic Training, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy).
- You are enrolled full-time or have Full-Time Certification, are working on a thesis, project, or dissertation AND your faculty advisor confirms on the Academic Advisor Recommendation Form that the internship is equivalent to full-time enrollment (and it is not your final semester).
Full-Time CPT (more than 20 hours of work per week) is not possible during a student's final semester of the program unless it is required of all students in the program.
Longer ISS Processing Times
Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ISS processing times for this request are longer than usual. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page and check the ISS Services section for details.
To apply for CPT, follow the directions below. We recommend submitting your application at least 7 business days before your expected employment start date.
CPT applications received after the published application deadline will be denied.
- Log in to UB Global by clicking the “LOGIN” button. Enter your UBIT Name and Password.
- Click on “F-1 Student Services” and then “Application for Curricular Practical Training”.
- Complete the e-form and upload the required documentation. Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable.
- Academic Advisor’s Recommendation Form
- The entire form must be complete. If any information is missing or if the answers are not sufficient, ISS will request additional information.
- If you're working remotely from home, your home address should be listed as the site address (below the employer address).
- Employer Letter
- The letter must be on letterhead, include a date, the student's name and a position title.
- CPT Course Enrollment
- Be sure that you are registered for the appropriate CPT credit and you include proof of such enrollment BEFORE you submit your CPT e-form.
- Click “Submit”. If CPT is approved, ISS will update your information in SEVIS and issue a new I-20 with CPT authorization.
The internship/training experience cannot begin until the CPT I-20 is issued and the start date has passed. Retroactive authorizations will not be granted.
Any work that takes place outside the CPT approval dates is unauthorized employment.
- If you are authorized for CPT during the Fall/Spring semester, you may not exceed 20 hours per week between both CPT and any on-campus employment.
- It is not possible to switch employers after CPT is approved unless the reason for the change is due to a situation outside the student’s control.
- When authorized for CPT, you are permitted to work only from the specified beginning date through the specified ending date.
- Once you apply for Post-Completion OPT, you are no longer eligible for CPT. Remember, CPT must be an “integral part of an established curriculum”. You are not eligible for CPT if you have completed all degree requirements.
- If your CPT credits do not count towards degree requirements, we recommend re-considering your CPT request. CPT must be integral to the curriculum. It is more difficult to argue that an experience is integral if the credits do not count towards completion of the degree. Students should also consider potential negative immigration consequences to excessive CPT use. USCIS is questioning OPT and H1B applications when a student has repeatedly used CPT. Lastly, ISS is concerned about a student's ability to make “normal progress” towards completing degree requirements if you cannot graduate on time due to extra internships. This could impact eligibility for an I-20 extension.