Curricular Practical Training F-1 Off-Campus Employment
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, is work authorization that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience in their field of study, prior to the completion of their academic programs. To be eligible for CPT, you must have completed one full academic year in the United States. Per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10):
Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year.
CPT is authorized by the Office of International Services (OIS) in accordance with 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i) and structured office policies that have been developed with this regulatory backing.
Please Note: Working off-campus without authorization from the OIS is never lawful for students in F-1 status. You must have authorization from the OIS before you start working.
What are the requirements for CPT?
To be eligible for CPT authorization, you must:
- Have been a full-time student for at least one full academic year
- Be in F-1 status
- Work with your academic advisor (see additional information below)
- Have a letter from your prospective employer for work in your major field of study that meets the requirements listed below.
- Register for an appropriate course which covers the duration of the employment that you seek. What course you are required to register for depends on what CPT option you will pursue.
There are four ways in which F-1 students can apply for and receive CPT authorization:
- The work fulfills an optional or required internship or practicum in your academic program (registration in an internship or practicum course required);
- The work fulfills the course requirements of a standard course or independent study course in your academic program (registration in the standard course or independent study course required);
- (Graduate Students Only) The work benefits your thesis/dissertation/final project in a material and substantial way (registration in credit-bearing thesis/dissertation/final project credit(s) required);
- (Ph.D. Students Only) The work allows you to fulfill a specific deficit in your overall program, or provides you an opportunity to have an experience that is an integral part of the Ph.D. program which is otherwise not available to you (registration in dissertation research or G901 credit(s) required).
CPT authorization is granted on a semester-by-semester basis only. If you wish to continue your employment beyond the semester for which you’ve been authorized, you must follow the entire application process again, including the appropriate course registration for the option that you choose. Note: It’s best to do this as soon as you register for the next semester so that our office will have the time to process your application.
To apply for CPT, you must take the following steps:
For all students except PD, AD, and MM music students:
Communicate with a qualified academic advisor.
In order to be granted work authorization, an academic advisor from your department must certify that you will register in an appropriate course/independent study, internship credit(s), or dissertation credit(s). Speak with your academic advisor to determine your options for a CPT-appropriate course. If your advisor has questions, please have them contact OIS for assistance.
Additionally, the OIS must have received confirmation from your academic advisor through the e-form process which indicates the appropriate course in which you are registered so that the OIS can process your CPT request. Your academic advisor will be asked to provide information about how the work that you plan to do will fulfill requirements of your program of study.
Get a job offer letter.
You must provide OIS with an offer letter from your prospective employer. This letter should be on company letterhead. Please circle the following before submitting:
- The specific start date and specific end date for employment.
- The number of hours that will be worked per week. It will not be sufficient for the letter to state “part-time” or “full-time.” The number of hours per week must be provided.
- The physical location (street address, city, state, and ZIP code) where the job will be conducted. P.O. Boxes are not accepted for this requirement.
- A description, as detailed as possible, of the job duties entailed in your work.
Register for the appropriate course.
Students must register for a CPT-appropriate course for each semester or summer session for which they seek authorization. CPT authorization cannot be based upon Incompletes or other registrations from previous semesters.
If you seek work authorization for Summer, you must be enrolled in a CPT appropriate course. If the CPT course is a credit bearing course, enrollment for Summer II or Fall Semester only is acceptable. If you register in a zero credit CPT appropriate course, you must enroll for both Summer I and II in order to seek authorization for the entire summer.
Submit your completed CPT application form to the OIS through iStart:
Your completed application for CPT must be submitted to the OIS at least two weeks before the employment is expected to begin. Please apply earlier when the university will be closed for the winter break or at the beginning and end of a semester, as those are particularly busy times in the office. Failure to do so can result in delays in processing, during which time you are not eligible to begin work.
For PD, AD, and MM Students Only:
- Submit the e-form for CPT through iStart.
- Register for a performance course for the semester or summer session in which you would like to work.
- For PD, AD, and MM students who wish to have CPT authorization for specific gigs or appointments, a job offer letter will be required. However; for students who wish to apply for CPT based on various regional performances, gigs, and lessons (which are not regular or steady employment opportunities), no job offer letter is required.
If you have found an internship or other work opportunity which is unpaid, the OIS strongly recommends that you apply for CPT authorization prior to beginning that volunteer opportunity. On the chance that you would be offered compensation for your experience, you would only be able to accept it if you have CPT authorization.
Reminder: This experience must be in your major field of study.
Apply for authorization before you begin working to ensure that you won’t run into problems.
Working without proper authorization is a violation of your legal status that will require termination of your SEVIS record. You will not be able to remain legally in the US.
Part Time versus Full Time CPT
- For work at or below 20 hours per week for all jobs
- You must enroll as a full-time student for the duration of the CPT
- For work at or above 21 hours per week.
- Your enrollment in CPT-qualified credits will be considered full-time.
Graduate Students with On-Campus Employment
- If you hold a current position on campus (hourly or as a graduate research assistant, etc.) and you wish to accept additional employment, please keep in mind that you are only eligible for a total of 20 hours/week for all jobs.
- If you wish to work more than 20 hours/week for each job, you must apply for CPT authorization for each job, including your assistantship or hourly position.
- A complete, separate application must be submitted for each job through iStart.
CPT and its Effect on OPT
- F-1 students can use an unlimited amount of part-time Curricular Practical Training and still get 12 months of Optional Practical Training following completion of studies.
- If a student uses more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training, s/he will no longer be eligible for any Optional Practical Training. If you plan to do this, please make an appointment with an international student advisor at OIS to discuss it in advance. Note that if you forfeit your opportunity for OPT by using more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you will be permitted to use 2 (two) years of full-time CPT only.
Social Security (FICA) should not be withheld from the wages of an F-1 student on CPT if the student is classified as a non-resident for tax purposes. Earnings are, however, still subject to federal, state, and local taxes. Look at IRS publication 519 (www.irs.gov) pages 5 and 42 for more information.
CPT authorization results in the issuance of a new page 3 of your I-20. Please staple this new page 3 to your current Continued Attendance I-20. This page will have a travel signature that will be valid for entry into the US for one year, provided that you remain enrolled full-time at IU and your I-20 itself has not expired or that your major has not changed.
Office of International Services Policy Statements Regarding CPT
The OIS, in an effort to provide students with correct and pertinent information, would like to share some of our policy statements regarding the CPT authorization.
- You may not use incompletes or deferred grades from a previous semester for CPT authorization.
- CPT can be granted for a specific independent study course for two terms only. Further independent study work will be required to have a different course number and different academic requirements.
- The OIS enforces an enrollment policy for CPT that requires employment to correlate directly to academics. Enrollment in each semester (pursuant to the CPT option chosen) is mandatory.
Withdrawing from or dropping credits that are tied to CPT work authorization immediately cancels the CPT authorization. Work done without this authorization is illegal and a violation of status that will result in termination of your SEVIS record.