Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for International students in F-1 Student visa status. CPT allows students to take up a required off-campus training/internship directly related to their major for a specific period of time.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for International students in F-1 Student visa status.  CPT allows F-1 students to take up an off-campus training/internship which is integral part of students’ major for a specific period of time.

Integral part of study

The internship must meet ONE of the following condition:

Degree requirement Course requirement
Your major requires completion of an internship or work experience to meet graduation requirements. You are enrolled in an internship, fieldwork, or practicum course that requires an internship or work experience in order to earn a grade.  However, CPT will not be granted for Independent Study and Special Study courses.

CPT authorization period 

CPT will only be authorized during the semester/session below:

Semester that you must enroll in an internship class CPT must start on or after CPT must end by
Spring 2019 January 28, 2019 June 6, 2019
Summer 2019 June 10, 2019 August 22, 2019
Fall 2019 August 26, 2019 January 6, 2020

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT: part-time and full-Time. Part-time CPT authorization will allow you to work 20 hours or less per week, and full-time CPT authorization will allow you to work for more than 20 hours per week.

You must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply for CPT:

  • Be in valid F-1 status.
  • Fulfilled one year full-time requirement.  You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year prior to submitting an CPT application.  One year enrollment may be fulfilled at SF State, a previous university, or between multiple universities.
  • Enrolled full-time (including the internship class) in the semester you wish to pursue internship. Waitlisted classes will not be counted towards full time requirement.  
  • Enroll in an internship, fieldwork, practicum, cooperative education or other course specifically designed for experiential or practical learning and listed in the SF State Bulletin as such. 

To find out if your major has internship requirements and internship class, speak to an academic advisor in your major department.  

What kind of employment are not qualified for CPT?

Full-time job or long term employment and Self-employed positions/entrepreneurs

I am not receiving any compensation, do I still need to apply for CPT authorization?

Compensation is not a consideration when determining whether an opportunity qualifies as CPT.  Any off-campus internship positions, whether paid or unpaid, requires CPT authorization before you begin the employment. Under no conditions can you begin working – not even as a non-paid intern – before your CPT is approved.

Volunteering for a position which normally provides compensation is considered “employment” and is therefore not permitted without appropriate authorization.

Can I extend CPT?

Internships must be concurrent with course enrollment.  If you wish to do internship beyond the last day of the semester, you must enroll in an internship class in the following semester.

I am a graduate student currently working on thesis, am I eligible for CPT?

No.  Graduate students who have started culminating experiences (i.e. thesis, research, creative work, exam) courses are not eligible for CPT.  You must apply for OPT if you wish to do internship while completing your culminating experiences requirement.

Can I apply for CPT if I only plan to take one internship class in my graduating semester?

No, unless an internship course is required for a degree completion.

Will I lose my OPT if I received too many CPT?

It is possible.  Students who work for twelve months or more in full-time (NOT part-time) CPT are no longer eligible for OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Can I have multiple internships in the same semester?

Yes.  U.S. Immigration regulations allow students to have multiple internship positions at the same time.  Since CPT authorization is employer based, you will need to apply for CPT for each internship.  If your academic department is ok with you working for multiple internship positions, you will need to submit CPT Authorization Form and internship offer letter for each internship position.

Can I change my internship employer during CPT?

Yes. To change internship, you must notify OIP before the last day of your previous internship position, and submit a signed CPT Authorization Form and internship offer letter again.  You will receive a new I-20 with your new internship information.
The processing time for CPT request is 5 business days, excluding weekend and holidays.  Since you can only start your internship after you obtain the CPT authorization, it is very important to submit your CPT request at least 5 business days before your internship start date.

Step 1:  Understand CPT and how it works

All applicants are required to review this CPT online information workshop (PDF) to complete the necessary forms and put together the application.

CPT online information workshop (PDF)

Step 2: Prepare and submit CPT materials to OIP

Submit your completed application to OIP for an I-20 with CPT authorization.

Step 3: Pick up your I-20

An F-1 International Student Advisor will review your application materials and grant you CPT if you are eligible.  A new I-20 will be issued and your CPT authorization will be printed on the 2nd page.  Pick up your new I-20 at the OIP front desk once we contact you (within 5 business days, excluding weekends and holidays).  Do not start working before receiving the new I-20 with CPT authorization. 

The I-20 with CPT authorization printed on the 2nd page is your official work authorization.  You will not receive any other documents or employment authorization card from USCIS.

You will be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at any Social Security Administration (SSA) office.  Please note SSA will not process your SSN application if it is more than 30 days in advance of the CPT start date.



Updated: February 2019