CPT Visa

A F-1 student visa holder can apply for a CPT (Curricular Practical Training), which allows them to complete practical training in their field of major, during their studies. The CPT provides an F-1 visa holder temporary employment authorization for the duration of their studies, which allows them to pursue paid practical training. An F-1 student can work either part time or full time on a CPT program.
Types of CPT visas
Benefits & Restrictions
How to apply
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Visa types

The CPT is mostly applicable only to students whose educational program mandates practical training as a prerequisite for graduation or completion of studies. In addition, the option to complete a CPT full time or part time exists, as long as the eligibility criteria for these options are met by the student.

Full time CPT:

Opportunity to gain invaluable international experience in an established U.S. organization.
A full time CPT is for internships with more than 20 working hours per week.

Part time CPT:

A part time CPT is for internships with less than 20 working hours per week.
Typical Visa application form and blue pen on paper calendar page


In order to qualify for a CPT, there are some eligibility requirements that must be met. See the following:

You must have been enrolled full-time at a school or academic institution in the USA, with a F-1 visa for at least one year.

The CPT must be an integral part of your studies or a mandatory requirement of your degree program.

You must have obtained a job offer from a company prior to applying for a CPT.

Make sure to check that this company/job offer is accepted by your institution and the US government.

The job offer for your CPT must be in your major field of study.

Students studying together. Group of young people sitting together at the table while two cheerful women looking at the digital tablet and smiling

Benefits & Restrictions

What are the benefits of completing a CPT? 

Opportunity to gain invaluable international experience in an established U.S. Organization.

Opportunity to gain extra income during your studies in $USD, paid at the same rate as wages of your colleagues in the same

Opportunity to boost your CV and improve your odds at employability post graduation.

Have the chance to develop your professional english language skills in a practical workplace setting.

Restrictions of the CPT visa to be aware of:

The CPT must be completed before the end of your studies and the end date on your Form I-20;

You must already have a job offer prior to applying for the CPT.

You are only allowed to work for the duration stated on your Form I-20.

You cannot apply for a CPT if you are enrolled in an intensive English for Second Language course or program.

Keep in mind that the duration of your CPT will have an impact on your eligibility for an OPT program. For example, if you complete a full time CPT for a duration of 12 months, you will no longer be eligible for an OPT.

Indian hr employer listening latin candidate at job interview meeting.

How to apply

The visa application process includes:

Submit a request for a CPT to your designated school official (DSO).

If your DSO approves your request, they will provide you with the Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status”.

Your DSO will verify your eligibility for the CPT before submitting an official recommendation in SEVIS.

Sign your Form I-20.

Complete and submit an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) to the USCIS. (Within 30 days of recommendation.)

Make the payment for the Form I-765 fee to the USCIS. (within 30 days of recommendation.)

Once USCIS receives your application and payment receipt, they will be able to consider your application and provide you with a decision on your application.

USCIS will provide you with an answer:
1. If it is approved: USCIS will provide you with the EAD and your SEVIS status changes to approved.
2. If it is denied: The CPT application status will be DENIED in SEVIS.

You can start your CPT program as soon as you have received the EAD.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DSO?

DSO is the abbreviation used for the Designated School Official. This official is responsible for submitting your official recommendation for the OPT to SEVIS.

What is an EAD?

EAD is the abbreviation for Employment Authorization Document, which is the official document all nonimmigrants and temporary workers will be required to obtain from the USCIS. This document states your permission to work in the United States.

What is the Form I-20?

The Form I-20 is the official Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

What is the Form I-765?

The Form I-765 is the official Application and Document for Employment Authorization.

What is the Form I-766?

The Form I-766 is the official Employment Authorization Document, which is presented in card format. This is sometimes referred to as the EAD.

What does CPT stand for?

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. This is a type of program which grants temporary employment authorization for nonimmigrants residing in the USA under the F-1 visa.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is the official government database for all students and exchange visitors. This system maintains records of all nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their studies and training, while in the USA. All official information regarding your program is registered in this system by your academic institution.

What is USCIS?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the official branch of the U.S. Government which handles the processing of matters related to immigration and various non-immigrant permits.

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