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 an off-campus training/internship which is required by the major for a specific period of time.

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

Length:  CPT is semester based.  CPT will begin no earlier than the first day of instruction and must end no later than the last day of final exams for the semester:

Spring 2018: January 22, 2018 - June 3, 2018
Summer 2018: June 4, 2018 – August 16, 2018
Fall 2018: August 27, 2018 – January 8, 2019
(*Dates are subject to change)

Internship:  Students must enroll in an internship course.  The internship course should be an integral part of students’ established curriculum.  Please note not all majors at SF State have internship courses that corresponds to CPT.  Therefore, not all F-1students at SF State are eligible for CPT.

How to obtain CPT:  Students must request CPT authorization from the Office of International Programs (OIP).  CPT is granted by F1 International Student Advisors at OIP.

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.
  • Enrolled full-time. Minimum 12 units for undergraduate students or 8 units for graduate students.  Waitlisted classes will not be counted towards full time requirement.  You might be eligible to apply for CPT if you have approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).
  • 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.
  • Internship offer IS required for CPT.
  • 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 have internship requirements and internship class, speak to an academic advisor in your major department.  If you are an undergraduate student and your major is Business, speak to an academic advisor at Undergraduate Student Services Center, BUS 112.  Please note:
    • This internship course must be used towards to your degree and graduation requirements.  If you are a graduate student, this course must be on your Advancement To Candidacy (ATC) form
    • CPT will not be granted for Independent Study and Special Study courses.
    • Although F1 immigration does not limit the numbers of semesters in which you can do internship, but your academic department may limit.  Ask your academic advisor about how many internship classes you can take to satisfy your degree requirements.
    • The internship course must be in the same semester in which you are employed in the internship posit.

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 volunteer – before your CPT is approved.  Volunteering for a position which normally provides compensation is considered “employment” and is therefore not permitted without appropriate authorization.

if you have already completed all of the required coursework and are in the process of completing your culminating experience, you are NOT eligible for CPT. 

Plan ahead! The processing time for CPT application is 5 business days.  Do not wait until the last minute to submit your CPT application. You can only start your internship after you obtain the CPT authorization.

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.