Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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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. 

NEW CPT Application Process

Starting for Winter & Spring 2024, we have a new CPT e-form process.

Faculty & Staff can read about their part of the process on our Faculty/Staff CPT page.

Overview

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.

Eligibility Requirements

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) in your current field of study/major.
    • Students who changed degree levels at UB or transferred from another U.S. college/university may be eligible for CPT after one semester at UB. Please contact ISS to determine eligibility. 
    • 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 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.

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 are 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.

Dates & 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.

TIP: We often see students with job offers that end prior to the semester end date, which then later gets extended. In general, we recommend that you request the full length of the CPT semester.

Example for a Spring 2023 CPT: 

  • Your job offer is from 1/25/2023 - 4/21/2023.
  • We recommend you request CPT authorization from 1/25/2023 - 5/20/2023.

Requesting an extension to your CPT after it has already started requires a separate process and could take up to two weeks for ISS to authorize. Avoid that delay by requesting the full CPT period when applicable.

CPT Application Deadlines

It is important to plan ahead. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Semester Application Deadline Earliest Start Date Latest End Date
Fall 2023 Friday, September 15 Saturday, August 19
Wednesday, December 20
Winter 2024 Application Deadline is Add/Drop for Winter Session. Refer to Academic Calendar for specific date. Thursday, December 21
Friday, January 19
Spring 2024 Friday, February 9 Saturday, January 20 Thursday, May 16

Summer 2024

(Sessions starting 5/28)

Application Deadline is Add/Drop for Summer Session. Refer to Academic Calendarfor specific date.

 

CPT application deadline for a 12-week course is TBD and will be posted once registration dates are released.

 

Find summer session deadlines

Friday, May 17

Last date of Summer Session; Refer to Academic Calendar for end dates

 

Latest possible: August 16

Summer 2024

(Other Sessions)

Application Deadline is Add/Drop for Summer Session. Refer to Academic Calendarfor specific date.

 

CPT application deadline for a 6 week Summer 3 course is TBD and will be posted once registration dates are released.

 

Find summer session deadlines

Tuesday, May 28

Last date of Summer Session; Refer to Academic Calendar for end dates

 

Latest possible: August 16

Fall 2024 Friday, September 13 Saturday, August 17 Wednesday, December 18

*The University at Buffalo academic calendar is set by the Faculty Senate and University President, and dates may change at their discretion.

Extending An Approved CPT

If a student is currently approved for a CPT that does not run the full length of a semester and needs additional time to complete academic requirements for their CPT course an extension for additional time during that term may be possible.

Extension requests are currently accepted as emails from the academic department to iss@buffalo.edu that include:

  • Confirmation the academic department supports the extension of the current CPT through a specific date within acceptable dates for the semester (see chart above).
  • An explanation of the academic necessity for the work authorization extension.

Enrollment Requirements

If your department does not offer an internship, practicum, Co-Op, or course meeting these requirements, you may not be eligible.  Because CPT is directly linked to the curriculum of your department, not every F-1 student at UB will be eligible for 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 Authorization

Full-Time CPT (more than 20 hours of work per week) is not possible during a student's final semester of the program unless required for degree completion. Most CPT authorizations are limited to 20 hours per week (part-time).  Full-time (more than 20 hours per week) is possible only if the following criteria are met.  

Undergraduate Students

  • CPT is requested for the summer or winter term.

                OR

  • The full-time internship is deemed equivalent to full-time enrollment. This must be stated in the course catalog. 
              OR
  • A full-time off-campus internship experience is required for all students in your degree program.

Graduate Students

  •  CPT is requested for the summer or winter term (if it is not your final semester).

            OR

  • 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).

            OR

  • You are enrolled full-time or have Full-Time Certification AND the CPT is necessary to complete a dissertation, a thesis, or a project (ISS approved Project Track for Master's students; or a Phd research project). The internship must also be equivalent to full-time enrollment.

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.

Application Process

We recommend submitting your application at least 15 business days before your expected start date.  Applications received after the deadline will be denied.

ISS Processing Times

Check our e-form processing page for current details. ISS processing for CPT does not begin until your department submits the Step 2 e-form (see below).

STEP 1 (The Student):

  1. Confirm academic eligibility with department/advisor
  2. Secure an internship offer
  3. Register for the appropriate CPT course
  4. Ask department for name & email of staff authorized to complete the Step 2 e-form
  5. Submit CPT Request e-form on UB Global
    • Answer all questions in detail
      • List or describe the skills/concepts from your degree program that will be used during CPT.
        • Should not be general skills like "team work" or "interpersonal skills".
      • Missing details or mistakes will require you to complete this entire form again, and will significantly delay processing time.  
    • Carefully write the advisor/department email address   
    • Request the full length of you CPT semester (see date chart above)
      • We often see students with job offers that end prior to the semester end date, which then later gets extended. We recommend that you request the full semester length to avoid additional work.
    • Upload your employment letter on company letterhead, with your name, date, job title and description
    • READ EACH CONFIRMATION OF UNDERSTANDING! 
      • ISS takes these confirmations very seriously. We will uphold these statements. If you have questions, ask before submitting!

STEP 2 (The Academic Advisor/Faculty, AKA "Second Approver"):

UB Global will send an email to the advisor/faculty email address provided by the student in Step 1 after the student submits their e-form. The department will:

  • Review Step 1 details and confirm that this experience is integral to the curriculum
  • Submit their Step 2 e-form if they support the request
    • The student will receive an email notifying them that their request was approved by the academic department and has been routed to ISS for final approval.

Both the student and second approver e-forms will then be sent to ISS for final review.

STEP 3 (International Student Services):

ISS will review both the student and advisor e-forms. If the request meets all eligibility requirements, ISS will approve the CPT and email the student their new CPT I-20. The second approver/department advisor will also receive an email when ISS approves the CPT request.

If denied, the student and department advisor will be notified by email.

Any work outside of your approved CPT dates is unauthorized employment.

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.

Important Reminders

  • 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.