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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 students may be authorized to participate in CPT if it is an integral part of their respective curriculum.

Curricular practical training is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school."

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requests students who want to engage in CPT show evidence of direct course relevance and that the CPT opportunity meet one of the following conditions:

  1. Training is required of all students in the curriculum, or
  2. Training is required for a particular course or course track to fulfill degree requirements, or
  3. If the training is not required, the CPT must be a course elective which carries course credit.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

To be eligible, an F-1 student must:
  1. Have been lawfully enrolled full-time at an I-20 issuing institution for at least one academic year
  2. Find an internship opportunity directly related to their major area of study
  3. Start completing the NSU CPT Application Packet
  4. Talk to their academic advisor and get his/her signature on the CPT Packet
Submit completed CPT NSU Packet to

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

STEP 1) Please review the CPT Overview video before you start.


STEP 2) Fill out the NSU CPT Application, choose the one that applies to you:



STEP 3) Letter from prospective employer  including the following:

  • Composed on company letterhead or on the bona fide company email account
  • Date the letter was issued
  • Physical address of employer and their contact information — if work will be at a different location than main address, include work address as well
  • Whether the training will be full-time (more than 20 hours/week) or part-time (20 hours/week or less)
    • You are only allowed full-time CPT during your annual vacation time. 
    • Please note: There is not limit on how many times you can apply for CPT. Federal regulations, however, will not allow a student to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) if 12 months or more full-time CPT has been granted at the same level of education. Part-time CPT does not effect your ability to apply for OPT
  • Start date
    • May start as early as the day after the previous term/semester ends as noted on the NSU academic calendar (graduation date/last day of finals) unless previously approved for the preceding semester/term
    • This means that if the last day of finals for summer term is June 16, you may have a start date of June 17
  • End date
    • Must be before the first day of classes for the next semester/term or your I-20 end date; e.g. if the first day of classes for next semester is January 3, your current CPT needs to end by January 2
    • If you will be graduating, your CPT will end on the day you graduate. Students are not eligible to continue their CPT once they have graduated
  • Full description of training and duties
  • Signature of authorized hiring officer
  • If your CPT is with a staffing agency, you must also obtain a letter from the agency stating:
    • you are an employee of the staffing agency (not a contract worker) and
    • the agency will not place you with any other employer during your CPT
  • If some of these requirements are missing from this letter, you may include them in a separate document. This can include an email from your employer or the original job posting description. 


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status.
  • The student has been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (8 months) in their current level of education. Changes in academic level require that you wait another academic year. Please consider the following circumstances in your eligibility:
    • If you are a new graduate student in a degree program which mandates CPT during the first two semesters, you will be granted an exception and may begin CPT after the application process.
    • If you are a student in an integrated program, you an not eligible for CPT after you complete your last "undergraduate" year.
  • The student will continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT.
  • The training is an integral part of an established curriculum, and directly related to the student's major area of study, as confirmed in writing by their department Internship Coordinator.
  • The student will receive internship credit for the training. (Degree curriculums which mandate practical training for all students, are not required to enroll in an internship class unless required for the degree.)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Can I get my CPT approved for more than one semester?

  • CPT is only approved for the semesters/term you have registered for the internship class. This often means that CPT is approved one semester/term at a time. You will need to submit another CPT E-form application and get it approved again through our office.

    • If you are continuing the same CPT, we only need an updated letter stating the new start and end dates of when your employer is wanting to hire you. This letter should still contain the information listed in step 2 on the application tab.
    • If you have a letter that states working days for more than one semester, you may use this letter again and request new start and end dates on your E-form.
    • If your internship is required for your major, you can have your CPT approved for multiple semesters at a time.
    • If you are doing a new internship with a different employer, you will simply need to go through the application process again.

How long does CPT take to get approved?

  • Granted that you have submitted all of the correct information and have registered for your internship class, it will take approximately 3-5 business days to be approved from that day. You will receive an email once your CPT Form I-20 is ready and approved.

    We recommend students apply for CPT in advance so that if any problems come up, you have time to makes the necessary changes and can start your CPT on time.

Does my CPT have to be related to my major?

  • Yes, federal law requires that your internship be directly related to your major.

When can I begin working?

  • You may begin working once your CPT has been approved by our office and you have received your Form I-20 with CPT listed on page 2.

    DO NOT begin working before you have gone through the application process and the CPT shows as approved on your I-20.

Can I do multiple CPT at the same time?

  • Students are eligible to do multiple CPTs at the same time as long as they follow all of the requirements mentioned. While you can do multiple CPTs, this cannot exceed a combined 20 hours during a normal, full-time school semester. During your vacation period, you may work full-time (over 20 hours).

What if I am changing to a Masters degree program? What about integrated Masters degree programs?

  • Once you have received your I-20 stating that you are in a Masters degree program, you must wait one academic year before beginning any off-campus employment. If you are an doing an integrated Masters degree program, please contact our office for more information regarding off-campus employment and changing education levels.

Am I legally allowed to work in the U.S. on an F-1 visa?

  • Yes. F-1 visa holders are legally allowed to work off-campus through Curricular Practical Training (after their first two semesters) and Optional Practical Training (after graduation) as long as they receive authorization through ISSS and USCIS, respectively, prior to working.

Do I need "sponsorship" now or in the future?

  • Students do not need sponsorship from their employer while employed before graduation and participating in CPT. Companies may choose to sponsor a worker on an F visa during their OPT as long as they meet the H-1B (sponsored worker visa) criteria. If you are choosing to pursue sponsorship then you may want to indicate this as part of your discussions with prospective employers, but we encourage you to make sure each prospective employer understands that you are legally eligible for work for up to 12 months (36 if in a STEM designated field) regardless of sponsorship beyond this term. If you are sponsored for an H-1B you enter a visa lottery and we encourage you and your employer to work with a qualified immigration attorney as part of that process.
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