WHAT IS CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)?
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 their major field of study. The purpose of CPT is to apply the knowledge and skills they are gaining in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.
WHO AUTHORIZES CPT?
CPT is authorized by a Designated School Official (DSO) at International Student Services (ISS). It may take ISS 15 business days to review and approve a student’s CPT request. An F-1 student must request authorization from the school at which they are enrolled full-time with their F-1 I-20.
A student must have CPT authorization before they can start their practical training experience. CPT authorization is typically granted for one semester at a time, because authorization is contingent on enrollment in a specific course. More information on CPT authorization dates can be found in the student information section.
What is my role as an academic or career advisor?
An eligible F-1 student visa holder at UW-Madison must first secure an offer for a practical training experience and follow the steps in the CPT application process.
You are asked to:
- Review the CPT offer letter.
- Determine if the position description is directly related to the student’s major. If it is not, you cannot proceed with your CPT recommendation.
- Discuss proper course enrollment for the practical training opportunity.
- Instruct the student to send you the CPT Verification through their TerraDotta portal. The student will need your name and email address to the send the verification.
- Complete the CPT Verification via the TerraDotta link that will be sent to you automatically via email. The student will see that you have completed the CPT Verification in their CPT Request in TerraDotta. The CPT Request cannot be submitted by the student until your CPT Verification is completed.
What does CPT authorization look like?
CPT is authorized on an F-1 student’s Form I-20 on page 2 (of 3 pages total). The authorization is granted using the information collected on the ISS CPT application form. The student must keep the original document for their permanent records. The employer should see the original document and verify the authorization dates and details.
Can a student take directed/independent study for CPT?
Enrollment in directed/independent study courses for practical training experiences should have a written plan of study and should be no more than 3 credits, unless it is a graduate student who has completed all coursework requirements and has an approved ISS Reduced Course Load (RCL)- coursework completed. Undergraduates must follow UW-Madison policy for directed/independent study enrollment.
Does CPT require visa sponsorship?
CPT is not a separate visa category and does not require “sponsorship” from an employer. However, the student must have an offer for practical training from the employer before they can apply for CPT authorization.
What’s the difference between CPT and OPT?
Here is a quick reference CPT-vs-OPT Handout. Detailed information is available on the CPT and OPT web pages for students. Are you working with a J-1 student visa holder? The practical training option for J-1 students is called Academic Training (AT).
How do I advise a student if their offer is not related to their major?
Practical training authorization for F-1 students (CPT and OPT) requires that the training be directly related to their major. It cannot be related only to a minor or certificate; it must be directly related to the major that matches their current I-20. If the offer does not relate, you cannot recommend the student for CPT.
How do I advise a student if the department does not have a course for them to enroll in for CPT?
If there is no course appropriate for CPT enrollment, an alternative option is for the student to apply for pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Direct students to the ISS website and refer them to ISS advising for specific questions. Advanced planning is required. Application processing may take up to 5 months.
It is ultimately the student’s responsibility and decision. The student may assume the risks of accepting the practical training opportunity without authorization.
ISS and UW-Madison employees are not government officials or USCIS adjudicating officers and cannot guarantee their current or future benefits. We can only educate and empower our F-1 and J-1 students to make informed decisions to maintain their current immigration status.