Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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 an integral part of students’ major for a specific period of time.

Important Dates for Spring, Summer and Fall 2019 CPT applicants

CPT will only be authorized during the semester/session below (speak with an advisor if you have questions about the dates)

Semester that you must enroll in an internship class CPT must start on or after CPT must end by
Fall 2019 August 26, 2019 January 6, 2020
Spring 2020 January 27, 2020 June 2, 2020
Summer 2020 To Be Determined  

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Facts

Purpose

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 an integral part of students’ major for a specific period of time.

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.

An integral part of the 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.

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 (two consecutive academic semesters) prior to your proposed CPT start date.  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 an internship. Waitlisted classes will not be counted towards full time requirement.  
  • Enroll in an internship, fieldwork, practicum, cooperative education or another course specifically designed for experiential or practical learning (No "Independent Studies") 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.

Applying for CPT

Step 1:  Understand CPT and how it works

Review this CPT Information page (Facts & FAQ) carefully.

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. 

Your Academic Department may have certain requirements and restrictions before you will be allowed to enroll in the internship course.  Talk to your department to check for their timeline.  OIP's CPT process time is 5 business days.  We strongly advise you to apply for CPT at least 5 business days before your internship start date.

Submit the following documents to OIP:

  • CPT Application Cover Sheet (PDF, 170KB)
  • Completed and signed Curricular Practical Training Authorization Form (2 pages) (PDF, 219KB). See instructions (PDF, 428KB), 
  • Original or photocopy of your most current I-20
  • Photocopy of the identification page(s) in your passport (must include name, current expiration date, and photo)
  • I-94. Print your I-94 from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ .  If you entered the U.S. prior to April 30, 2013, provide a front and back copy of the I-94 card stapled to inside of your passport
  • Original and official internship offer letter.  You can download an internship offer letter template (Microsoft Word, 15.8KB). We recommend you to use the internship offer letter sample provided by OIP, if possible. The offer letter must be printed on the official company letterhead with your supervisor or hiring manager’s signature.  The letter should provide the following information:
    • Your full name
    • Title of your internship position
    • Your internship start date and end date
    • The number of internship hours per week
    • A brief explanation of your tasks
Attention The following is a list of common mistakes CPT applicants make which causes delays and frustration:
  • Incomplete internship offer letter: Internship offer letter is not printed on company letterhead and/or is missing a signature from the hiring manager.
  • Internship offer letter has no internship start and end date: OIP does not grant CPT for long term employment (with no end date), only short term internships (specified end date). 
  • Different internship start and end dates: Internship start and end dates are different on the internship offer letter from CPT authorization form. The dates must match on all documents!
  • Last minute request: Do not submit CPT request the day before the internship start date. The standard processing time for OIP to review and grant CPT is 5 business days.

    F-1 advisors can not backdate the CPT authorization and we will not be able to accommodate your last minute request.

  • 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)
  • It is ILLEGAL to start your internship BEFORE receiving 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
  • You will be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at any Social Security Administration (SSA) office.  SSA will not process your SSN application if it is more than 30 days in advance of the CPT start date

Working Under CPT

You may only begin to work once your CPT is approved by OIP, and you have the I-20 with CPT authorization in your hand. 

  • You must maintain both your academic status and immigration status during the semester you are on CPT.
  • If you are enrolled in an internship course, you must complete the course (withdrawals from the internship course would jeopardize your status).
  • If you are doing CPT during the Fall or Spring semester, you must maintain your full time enrollment (falling below full time status would jeopardize your status).
  • If you decide to change or end your CPT early, communicate with OIP regarding the changes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Full-time job or long term employment and Self-employed positions/entrepreneurs.
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. See Volunteering and Unpaid Internships if you wish to pursue an unpaid internship or volunteer positions.

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

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.

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

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).
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.
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 information contained in this website is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees and administrators of San Francisco State University, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither San Francisco State University nor the Office of International Programs is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Last updated: August 2019