Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment authorization for F-1 students. Eligible students may seek authorization to work in an internship, co-op, or practicum that is directly related to your major field of study. The purpose of CPT is to apply the knowledge and skills you are gaining in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.
CPT is a benefit of maintaining your F-1 student visa status. CPT is not a separate visa category and does not require “sponsorship” from an employer. You must have an offer of employment to apply for CPT. CPT is only available before you complete your degree program and should not be used as a means to extend your SEVIS program end date/degree completion.
CPT is authorized by a Designated School Official (DSO) at ISS. If your request is approved, ISS will issue you a new I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2. You must have CPT authorization before you can start your practical training experience. CPT authorization is typically granted for one semester at a time. You must be enrolled for the semester that you plan to do your CPT experience before you submit your completed CPT application to ISS, unless your practical training is required by your degree program with no course enrollment.
It may take up to 15 business days for ISS to evaluate your CPT request. Please submit your request as early as possible and ensure that your materials are complete and accurately filled out. Please be advised that if the the Designated School Official needs to reach out to you for additional information, the request may take additional time. We advise you to plan ahead and pick a start date that allows for this processing time.
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Working Without Authorization
Potential consequences of accepting a paid or unpaid practical training opportunity without proper authorization may include:
- termination of your I-20/SEVIS record and loss of your F-1 benefits, including on-campus employment and OPT
- potential accrual of unlawful presence
- ineligibility for future visas that allow for work authorization, such as H-1B, O-1, TN, or permanent residency
- denial of your USCIS application for OPT
You should meet with an ISS advisor as soon as you become aware that you have violated your F-1 status. An ISS advisor will review your options to correct your F-1 status.
Review the types of employment acceptable on CPT and UW employment search tools.
Review the separate employment authorizations.
Determine if you need to request CPT authorization, including unpaid internships, volunteering, and practicum.
Employers can review tips to write the CPT offer letter and commonly asked questions when hiring an F-1 international student on CPT. No visa “sponsorship” required!
Academic, faculty, and career advisors can review tips to complete the Terra Dotta verification for the CPT application and commonly asked questions when F-1 international students have a practical training opportunity in their field of study.