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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students who must complete an internship course in order to graduate from their current degree program.

  • Employment starts at the beginning of the semester or summer session and completes at end of the semester or summer session. Exceptions may be considered if there is an academic justification.
  • The use of CPT does not impact eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) unless your use more than 12 months of full-time CPT. Students who use 12 months of full-time CPT, will not be eligible for OPT.

CPT Eligibility Requirements

1. Maintenance of F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year in a degree program.

2. Proposed employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum and meet one of the following requirements;

  • Internship is required of all candidates for a particular degree program.
  • Internship is required of a particular student's degree program as a planned option in their degree plan.

3. Must be enrolled in internship course as required or approved by your academic unit.  Each academic unit has unique internship requirements.

Note: CPT is not available as a work authorization for programs that do not offer an internship as part of the curriculum. Students in this situation wishing to participate in an internship will need need to apply for pre-OPT. It is in your best interest to determine early if an internship is an option as pre-OPT applications take approximately 90 days to process.

CPT Information Sessions

CPT information sessions  which discuss eligibility requirements and application processes are available at the Tempe, Downtown, Polytechnic and West campus locations. 

When to Apply

You can apply once you enroll in the internship class as well as other necessary classes and have all the necessary documents. There is no deadline, but we are not able to guarantee processing of your application before your employment start day if the application is submitted at the last minute. ISSC processing time is 7-10 business days.

How to Apply

Discuss your eligibility for CPT with your academic advisor before completing the CPT eForm. If eligible enroll in the internship course then complete the CPT eForm.

If your internship is in the fall or spring semester, you must be enrolled full-time for that semester (9 credits for graduate students and 12 credits for undergraduate students). Classes cannot be taken through online or distance education.

Full-Time vs Part-Time

CPT is limited to part-time employment (up to 20 hours a week) during the fall and spring semesters. Full-time CPT can be approved for undergraduate students who are in their final semester (with an approved Reduced Course Load).  Graduate students who have completed all coursework may be eligible for full-time CPT (more than 20 hours a week).  CPT during official school breaks can be either full-time or part-time.

CPT I-20 Application

1. Submit your application materials to the ISSC through the CPT I-20 Request eForm. You will need to gather the following documents to upload in this eForm:

A. Your passport expiration date

    • Your passport must be valid at all times
    • If you have a new passport, please upload

B. A copy of your most recent I-94

    • Please access your most recent I-94, not your Travel History
    • Copy of recent I-94 arrival record may be obtained here
    • Note: If you cannot access your I-94, please contact the ISSC immediately.

C. Employer letter or job offer letter that has the following information highlighted:

    • CPT start and end dates
    • Employer's name
    • Your name
    • Hours of work per week
    • Title of position
    • Descriptions of your position duties
    • The address where your work will be performed
    • Official company representative name
    • Official company representative signature or official e-signature.  Typed signatures will not be accepted.
    • Date of the signature

2. CPT applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You may receive an email or call from the ISSC for additional requirements or immigration advisement.

3. Pick up new CPT authorized I-20 from the ISSC. Students will receive an email informing them that their I-20 is ready for pickup (in person by you or a representative) or delivery.

CPT Employment

You should begin employment on the CPT start date on your I-20. Your employer will likely request certain documents from you, including your CPT I-20, passport, I-94 and social security card. Every employer has their own policies, so please follow their instructions. 

Apply for a Social Security Number (if you do not already have one)

  • You will be able to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) after your CPT is approved and you have received your CPT I-20.
  • You will not be able to apply for a SSN more than 30 days prior to the employment start date listed on your I-20.
  • You will need to apply for a SSN through the social security card center. Bring the following information to a social security card center:

 Visit to find the locations of social security card centers. You do not need an additional letter from the ISSC to apply for a SSN.

Frequently Asked Questions

My graduate degree program does not have an internship option. May I still participate in an internship?

My graduate degree program does not have an internship option. May I still participate in an internship?

An F-1 student visa holder must have work authorization to work off campus.  If your program does not include a for credit internship option, you may wish to consider using Pre-OPT.  This option requires 3+ months for processing through USCIS, please plan ahead.

My academic advisor is not familiar with CPT and not sure about my eligibility. What should I do?

My academic advisor is not familiar with CPT and not sure about my eligibility. What should I do?

Your academic advisor can determine if you are academically eligible for an internship as per the requirements of your academic unit.  Once your academic eligibility is authorized, you may apply for CPT through the eForm. However if you or your academic advisor have questions or concerns, please contact the ISSC for clarification.

Are the requirements for CPT the same at all schools?

Are the requirements for CPT the same at all schools?

Every U.S. institution must abide by the Code of Federal Regulations 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i) when it comes to CPT.  However institutions and academic units of colleges may add their own policies and guidelines to ensure that internships meet the curricular criteria of the program.

Can I extend my CPT? My employer wants me to work beyond the approved CPT dates.

Can I extend my CPT? My employer wants me to work beyond the approved CPT dates.

If there is an academic reason to extend your CPT, you should speak to an ISSC advisor.  However extending CPT authorization for its employment value and not for the curricular purpose it was intended will not be considered.