Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization available for eligible F-1 international students. With an approved CPT, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for a specific time frame in a specific role that is an integral part of their major.

Important Dates

CPT will only be authorized during the dates of the specific semester/session below (speak with an advisor if there are questions about the dates):

SEMESTER OF INTERNSHIP OFFER &

INTERNSHIP COURSE ENROLLMENT

CPT MUST START ON OR AFTER

CPT MUST END BY

Spring 2022 January 24, 2022 June 3, 2022
Summer 2022 May 31, 2022 August 11, 2022
Fall 2022 August 22, 2022 January 6, 2023

*Dates are subject to change without advance notice

CPT Resources

Here is a glance of the typical timeline from the day a F-1 student begins their CPT request to the approval date and beyond:

Phase 1: Before students' desired internship semester

  1. Student checks with Academic Advisor/Graduate Advisor for internship course availability and eligibility
  2. Student reviews CPT resources
  3. Student applies and receives job offer with offer letter

Phase 2: Registration begins for desired internship semester

  1. Student downloads CPT Request Form and fills information
  2. Student emails CPT Request form to Academic Advisor/Graduate Advisor for signature to internship course enrollment
  3. Student receives signed CPT Request form from Academic Advisor/Graduate Advisor
  4. Student enrolls in internship course
  5. Student emails signed CPT Request form & Job Offer letter to f1@sfsu.edu
    • F-1 advisors prepare CPT Approved I-20 (5 business days)
  6. (if applicable) Student applies for SSN through Social Security Administration
  7. Student receives CPT approved I-20

Phase 3: CPT start date begins

  1. Student begins work at authorized job for authorized timeline

Phase 4: CPT end date

  1. Student ends work by specific authorized end date
  2. Student completes academic requirements and receives grade

Relation to Major

  • Student jobs must be directly related to their current major(s), not minor. It is their responsibility to be able to connect their CPT job to their major. If the relationship between their job and their major(s) is called into question by SEVP in the future (such as during an OPT application), the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate the relationship.
  • The F-1 international student advisors at OIP will not be able to advise students on specifically what jobs do/do not qualify as advisors are not experts in their field of study. They may use the visit the Career Services & Leadership Development (CSLD) website. Click "Resources" on the top of the page and choose "What Can I Do With This Major" from the drop down menu to gain access.
  • It is recommended that students maintain evidence for each job: the position held, duration of that position, the job title, contact information of their supervisor or manager, and a description of the work.  Students can also have multiple OPT employment but all of them must be directly related to their major.

Types of Employment Allowed

  • Paid employment: Students may work part time or full time
  • Unpaid employment: 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.
  • Multiple employers: Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to their major. Each employer must provide an offer letter and a separate CPT application must be submitted.

Types of Employment NOT Allowed

  • Employment not directly related to a student's major
  • Full-time/long term employment: Offer letters must provide an end date.
  • Self-employed positions/entrepreneurs

Purpose

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization benefit for F-1 students who have been maintaining F-1 status in the U.S.
  • OIP reviews and approves CPT applications. There is no filing fee and the average 5 business day process time (not including major department process time). OIP will email an updated CPT approved I-20 once CPT is approved. The I-20 with CPT authorization is the student's official work authorization in the U.S.
  • F-1 students must request CPT for each internship during each semester they are requesting to work off campus.

Types of CPT

The work a student will do must be an integral part of their study. Therefore, the employment/internship must meet ONE of the following conditions:

DEGREE REQUIREMENT COURSE REQUIREMENT
Students' major requires completion of an internship or work experience to meet graduation requirements. Students 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.

Once a student determines the type of CPT (Degree requirement or Course requirement), the students may be eligible to participate in CPT in two different ways:

  • Part-time: Students are allowed to work less than 20 hours per week.
    • Part-time CPT has no impact on OPT eligibility.
  • Full-time: Students are allowed to work more than 20 hours per week.
    • Students who have received more than 365 days of full-time CPT will not be eligible for OPT.

Eligibility for full-time or part-time CPT is dependent on academic department restrictions.

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

  • Be in valid F-1 status.
  • Be physically in the U.S. 
  • Fulfilled one-year full-time requirement.
    • Must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year (two consecutive academic semesters) in the U.S. prior to their proposed CPT start date (excluding Summer and Winter session)
    • One year enrollment may be fulfilled at SF State, a previous university, or between multiple universities (not language schools).
  • Received a job offer with all required information
    • Letter must be on the official company letterhead and includes their supervisor or hiring manager’s signature
    • The letter should provide the ALL of the following information:
      • Students' full name
      • Title of their internship position
      • Students' internship start date
      • Students' internship end date
      • Students' physical work site location
      • The number of internship hours per week
      • A brief explanation of their tasks
  • Enroll in an internship, fieldwork, practicum 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 their major has internship requirements and internship class, speak to an academic advisor in their major department first.
    • If no internship courses are available within major,
      • Contact Lannie Nguyen at lannie@sfsu.edu for an internship course information. Include the following information in the email:
        • Your full name
        • SF State ID number
        • Job offer letter
        • The statement: "Need information to add an internship course" for the specific semester
      • You will receive the required forms to sign up for the internship course within 3-5 business days.
      • While you wait for the forms, look for a faculty in your major (faculty advisor) to advise you academically during your internship course
    • Students who enroll in internship courses must complete all academic assignments to earn the internship unit at the end of the semester.

Attention

  • Fall/Spring Requests:
    • Enrolled full-time or have approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) Completion of Study.
  • Summer Requests:
    • No minimum unit requirements other than internship course enrollment.
  • Graduate Students:
    • Graduate students may be eligible for CPT up to the same semester they are enrolled in their culminating experience course (i.e. thesis, research, creative work, exam), if their academic department authorizes them to take an internship course during the same semester.
    • Graduate students are not eligible for CPT if they have enrolled in their culminating experiences in a prior semester and are on summer break, their grace semester (Second Full-Time Equivalency), or RCL Completion of Study.
    • Graduate students interested in work authorization after their culminating experience enrollment must apply for "Thesis OPT" if they wish to do internship while completing their culminating experiences requirement.

When to Apply

  • After job offer is received.
  • After specific semester internship course enrollment.
  • At least 5 business days before employment start date (to account for CPT I-20 process time)
    • Please note that academic departments may have additional requirements, such as ICCE Learning Plans and other requirements and restrictions before students will be allowed to enroll in the internship course. Students must talk to their department to check for their timeline. 

Applying for CPT

ATTENTION

CPT applicants must enroll in internship classes BEFORE emailing their CPT requests to OIP.  CPT requests will NOT be processed without internship class enrollment.

  1. Review the CPT resources above carefully.
    • Understand the CPT responsibilities.
  2. Complete the mandatory CPT quiz.
    • The purpose of the quiz is to test students' knowledge of CPT and remind students of their responsibilities.
    • There is no minimum score requirement.     
  3. Keep a note of the date of completion to fill CPT request form.
  1. Download the CPT Authorization Request form below.
  2. Fill out
    • Page 1: "Student Information" & "CPT request Information"
    • Page 2: "Applicant Requirements and Responsibilities" & "Acknowledgement and Student Signature"
    • OIP accepts digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form and documents.
  3. Reach out to an Academic Advisors to obtain signature on CPT Request form to confirm graduation.
    • OIP accepts digital signatures, scanned copies, and high resolution/clear pictures of the completed form and documents.
  4. Enroll in the required internship course
    • See "Eligibility Requirements" above for course information.

Email the following documents to f1@sfsu.edu:

  • A signed CPT Authorization Request form with student and academic advisor's signatures
     
  • An internship offer letter with all required information (see template below)
     

    • The letter must be on the official company letterhead and includes their supervisor or hiring manager’s signature
       
    • The letter should provide the ALL of the following information:
      • Students' full name
      • Title of their internship position
      • Students' internship start date
      • Students' internship end date
      • Students' physical work site location
      • The number of internship hours per week
      • A brief explanation of their tasks

An F-1 international student advisor will review then student's request. If eligible, they will be issued a CPT Requested I-20 within 5 business days.

After CPT Approval

CPT Approved I-20

  • The typical process time for an approved CPT I-20 is 5 business days.
  • The CPT authorization will be printed on the 2nd page of newly issued I-20. The I-20 with CPT authorization printed on the 2nd page is their official work authorization. Students will NOT receive any other documents or employment authorization card (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
  • It is ILLEGAL for students to start their internship BEFORE receiving CPT authorization and the specific start date has begun. Students can only begin to work AFTER they received the I-20 with CPT authorization from us.  No exceptions.
  • There are specific dates students may be granted authorization to work during each semester for specific jobs. Any changes in dates and job offers will require a new CPT application (offer letter, internship enrollment if different semesters) and CPT I-20.

Social Security Number

CPT is a F-1 Benefit.

  • Students must maintain both their academic status and immigration status during the semester they are on CPT.

To maintain F-1 status, students must:

  • Fall/Spring Requests:
    • Students must maintain their full time enrollment (falling below full time enrollment would jeopardize their F-1 and CPT status).
    • Students enrolled in an internship course must complete the course (withdrawals from the internship course would jeopardize their F-1 and CPT status).
  • Summer Requests:
    • No minimum unit requirements other than internship course enrollment (withdrawals from the internship course would jeopardize their F-1 and CPT status).
  • If students decide to change employers or end their CPT early, they must email f1@sfsu.edu to communicate any changes as soon as possible. No new employment is allowed before a new CPT authorization is approved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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 students begin the employment. Under no conditions can students begin working – not even as a non-paid intern – before their 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 students wish to pursue an unpaid internship or volunteer positions.

CPT is semester and employer specific. This means if students wish to change employers, they must notify OIP before the last day of their current internship position, and submit a signed CPT Authorization Form and internship offer letter again.  They will receive a new I-20 with their new internship information..  If they wish to continue the same internship class next semester, they must apply for another CPT for next semester. 

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

It is possible.  Students who have received more than 365 days of full-time (NOT part-time) CPT will not be 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, students will need to apply for CPT for each internship.  If the academic department is ok with them working for multiple internship positions, they will need to submit CPT Authorization Form and internship offer letter for each internship position.

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: March 2022

For PDF files, Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or above is required to view it. Adobe Acrobat Reader it's available free from Adobe (link is external).