F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment option for F-1 international students who want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.
Conditions for CPTToggle More Info
The Global Engagement Office at Florida Gulf Coast University can authorize curricular practical training for you if it can be documented that the proposed employment meets one of the three following conditions:
- The employment (usually an internship or practicum) is required of all students in the program and is necessary for awarding the degree.
- You will receive academic credit for your proposed CPT employment and you must be registered for the course when you are working under curricular practical training authorization.
- Students engaged in a research project or thesis where the training opportunity is a necessary component of the student’s research (A letter from the student’s thesis, project, or academic advisor explaining in detail the relationship between the proposed employment and the student’s thesis research must be provided.)
*Graduate students please check with your Global Engagement Advisor to see if you are eligible for CPT.
*Undergraduates are not eligible in their first year of study.
EligibilityToggle More Info
- You must have an offer of employment that qualifies for CPT by establishing that the proposed employment is either a degree requirement for all students in your program or that you will receive academic credit based on your proposed employment experience.
- Meet with your academic advisor to establish eligibility and enrollment in an internship, co-op, or practicum course offered.
- You must submit your CPT request form to the Global Engagement Office before your CPT begins.
- A new I-20 will be issued, denoting the employer and the dates authorized on page two. You can present this new I-20 and your passport and I-94 record as proof of employment authorization to your employer.
- You must have been in lawful F-1 status and enrolled as a full-time (12 credits undergrad, 9 credits grad) student for at least one full academic year of study (Fall and Spring semesters only*).
- Apply for a Social Security Number if you do not have one already.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPTToggle More Info
CPT can be granted on a part-time or full-time basis. During the academic year, CPT is limited to part-time (no more than 20 hours per week), and you must continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) is generally available to students only during the summer break.
*If you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Applying for CPTToggle More Info
- Meet with your academic advisor and DSO to confirm your eligibility for CPT
- Complete the CPT Authorization Request Form
- Provide the signed CPT Request Form to your DSO
- Pick up your new I-20 showing the approved CPT
Working Without AuthorizationToggle More Info
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 a DSO in the Global Engagement Office when you become aware that you have violated your F-1 status.
Can I work for Multiple Employers on CPT?Toggle More Info
CPT authorization must be granted for each incidence of employment for a specific employer and time. If you change employers or engage in concurrent employment, you require authorization for each employer and time. Work undertaken after the expiration date of your CPT will be considered unauthorized employment.
FAQ for CPTToggle More Info
When am I eligible for CPT authorization?
You are eligible to apply for CPT if you have enrolled full-time for an academic year (a fall and a spring semester) as a degree-seeking student in the US. We would count time spent enrolled at another post-secondary institution before coming to FGCU if you came directly to FGCU without engaging in OPT. If you enroll in a graduate program that requires immediate participation in off-campus training, you may be eligible sooner.
How many hours can I work on CPT?
If you have authorization for part-time CPT, all work/training combined cannot total more than 20 hours in any one week. You are responsible for keeping careful records of your employment and not exceeding the 20-hour/week limit. USCIS could ask for records if you apply for OPT or an H-1B visa in the future.
What is the Main Difference between CPT and OPT?
The main difference between CPT and OPT is the time period you are eligible for these programs. CPT must be completed before graduation and OPT is usually done after you graduate.
Do I have to enroll in an internship or other course to be eligible for CPT?
Yes, CPT requires enrollment in an internship, practicum course, or a course for which the training opportunity will satisfy a requirement.
If I use Curricular Practical Training, will the time be deducted from the twelve months of optional practical training?
The time you spend on curricular practical training will not be deducted from the twelve months of allowable optional practical training UNLESS you use 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training.
What is considered part-time?
While you are enrolled for classes, employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time curricular practical training. The employment authorization page of your CPT I-20 will specify permission to engage in part-time training and you must limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training cumulatively. Still, you must be simultaneously enrolled as a full-time student to maintain lawful F-1 status.
What is considered full-time training?
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time curricular practical training, regardless of whether you are enrolled full-time or part-time for classes. The employment authorization page on your I-20 will specify permission to participate in full-time training. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time curricular practical training. However, if you participate in twelve months or more of curricular practical training, you will not be eligible for post-completion practical training.
Do I need to have a job offer before submitting my application?
Yes. Your CPT authorization will be employer and date specific.
Do I have to pay US taxes on my salary?
In general F-1 students who have been in the US for fewer than six years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as FICA tax). It would be best if you were sure to bring this to your employer’s attention because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need more information about the F-1 social security tax exemption, please contact the International Services at FGCU. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes, including federal, state, and local taxes.
How will my hours on CPT affect my application for OPT?
If you are authorized for 365+ days of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for post-completion OPT at the same degree level. Please click here for the regulations.
Accumulating part-time CPT generally does not affect your eligibility for post-completion OPT. However, US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will review an OPT applicant’s entire CPT history when determining OPT eligibility.
Can I enroll in CPT in the middle of a semester?
Yes, you can enroll for CPT in the middle of your semester to show that the training is integral to your major, and the experience must be part of your program of study.
NOTE: CPT can only be approved for the dates of the semester that you are currently enrolled.
Do I need CPT Authorization for an Unpaid Internship or Work?
Off-campus training through an internship, practicum or experiential learning opportunity should be authorized through CPT. If your training/work experience is on your transcript and occurs off-campus, your I-20 should show CPT authorization.
Are there restrictions on the number of hours I can work with CPT?
CPT can be authorized during the academic year or the summer but must be specified as either part-time or full-time. Part-time CPT is for employment that only requires 20 hours (or fewer) of work per week. You must register for a full-time credit load if you engage in part-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester. Full-time CPT is for employment that will require more than 20 hours of work per week. You are not required to enroll in additional courses if you are engaged in full-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester.
NOTE: If you are authorized for 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (pre or post-completion of studies). Periods of part-time CPT authorization do not affect Optional Practical Training.
What if my boss wants me to work after the semester is over?
Can I do CPT while waiting for my OPT approval?
Once you complete your degree, you cannot work on or off-campus until you have the EAD in your possession and your selected start date has arrived, even if your USCIS case status indicates that your application is approved.
How Do I Find an Internship?Toggle More Info
Here are listed some of the different websites where you can find internships opportunities for FGCU:
-College of Business internship page
If you cannot find an internship for your major in these websites please reach out to you advisor and/or to carrer services.