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CPT - All You Need to Know

CPT - All You Need to Know

If you are a student in the United States holding an F-1 visa, you know that your work options are limited and require a little bit of paperwork. Whether you're looking for a job, an internship, or even volunteering at a soup kitchen, to work legally in the country with student visa while studying you must receive an approval for CPT.


What is Cpt?


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program that temporarily allows international students with an F-1 visa to gain practical experience directly related to their majors through employment, paid or unpaid internships, or cooperative (co-op) education. It must be part of an established curriculum. CPT must be completed before graduating. In addition, CPT can be part-time (20 hours or less a week) or full time (20 hours or more a week). Although, if you work full-time for 12 months in CPT, you will lose your eligibility for OPT.


Students must maintain full-time enrollment during fall and winter CPT. Full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, 8 credit hours for graduate students and 6 credit hours for Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Research Assistants. 


The full-time enrollment requirement means that most students must limit their CPT during the academic year to local jobs or to working for their employer remotely, usually on a part-time basis. There are some exceptions, notably PhD students who have completed all their coursework and are now registered for dissertation/research hours only. However, such exceptions are rare. Although full-time CPT is allowed during the fall and winter semesters,



Who is eligible for CPT?


To be eligible for CPT, you must:

·        Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (i.e. two full consecutive terms) unless your academic program requires immediate participation for all students.

·        Be in lawful F-1 status

·        Have U-M approved health insurance

·        Have a job offer

·        Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program


How to Ge Started?


The first stage will be to address the Academic advisor or the International Office at the Institute where you are studying. There will explain the process in detail and in what conditions you are entitled to receive the approval. Every educational institution has different requirements regarding the CPT process.

If you meet any of the above conditions, the next step will be to register for the CPT course. That is, in order to obtain the certificate you must earn at least one credit from your internship or work, so you must register it in your own system. Please note that if you are already listed for 18 credits, you must pay for all Another credit you sign up for. Yes, even if it's credit for work or specialization.


The person responsible for CPT certifications in your school, whether it's an academic consultant, a department administrator, or a "K" consultant, will have to sign your documents, so he needs to know all the details of your work: What exactly are your job definitions, what is the name of the company, the business address, etc.


·        CPT authorization takes 1-2 weeks for the IC to process and requires several documents that may take you time to compile.

·        Take the CPT Online Certification Course and print your CPT Online Workshop Completion Email

·        Speak with your company/employer and obtain a Detailed Training Description

·        Meet with your Academic or Faculty Advisor to discuss your CPT plans in detail. Show your advisor the Detailed Training Description, if they believe the training is integral to your curriculum, they may recommend you for CPT by completing the Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form. Your advisor may also help you enroll in a Registrar Designated CPT course (if applicable).

·        Gather all required documentation. You may submit your CPT I-20 Request at the IC front desk (if you have NO questions). You must bring all required documents. The IC will not accept invalid or incomplete CPT applications.

·        An International Student and Scholar Advisor will review your CPT application. If all requirements are met, the advisor will approve your CPT and create a CPT I-20 showing this approval. Normal processing time is 1-2 weeks. Expect processing time to be 2 full weeks during peak request times such as April, September and January.

·        You will receive an e-mail once your CPT I-20 is ready. No work, paid or unpaid, may take place until your CPT I-20 is printed.

·        Be sure to sign and date your CPT I-20 and keep all I-20s permanently in your personal files

More Things to remember


Pre-authorization is usually taken for a week or two to arrive. Sometimes additional documents will be asked for, which can prolong the process.


Explain to your employers the situation and what exactly should be in your employment letter.


The standard certificate allows you to work half-time.


Don't get stressed out. Like everything in the U.S. bureaucracy is more frightening than reality: if you have a legitimate job offer and an employer who wants to help, the chances of rejecting your request are very low. Submit all necessary documents, work closely with your academic advisors, and start your professional career in the USA!

Related Links:

Finding an internship in USA (OPT)

How to earn passive income as a student in USA

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