Should I use Pre-OPT or CPT?
The first thing you should do is to discuss internship eligibility with your academic advisor/internship coordinator. If your program allows for an internship, CPT is the work authorization you would most likely use.
If your program does not allow for an internship, you would use Pre-OPT. Keep in mind Pre-OPT takes around 100 days to receive, so plan accordingly.
How do I get a CPT authorization?
Start with talking to your academic advisor/internship coordinator to determine your eligibility. If you are eligible, find employment related to your program of study, enroll in an internship course, then apply for a CPT I-20 with ISSC.
Can I participate in full-time CPT during the Fall/Spring semester?
Full-time CPT in the fall or spring semester is rare. However, you will need to speak to your academic advisor/internship coordinator as the answer to this question will depend on your program's policy. When engaged in full-time CPT during the fall or spring semester, full-time enrollment must also be maintained.
Do I need to have a CPT authorization while I have an unpaid internship?
Whether an F-1 student requires work authorization is not governed by whether the student is paid. An F-1 student needs work authorization even for unpaid work. Therefore, an F-1 student should obtain either CPT or OPT work authorization to engage in unpaid work. For more information, please visit our volunteering and unpaid internships webpage.
How many hours can I work with CPT authorization?
You must always seek your academic department’s approval for the number of hours you will work while on CPT.
- If you have part-time CPT authorization, you can work up to 20 hours per week or less.
- If you have full-time CPT authorization, you must work more than 20 hours per week.
Please note that there is no immigration maximum to the number of hours you can work per week when authorized for full-time CPT. Thus, with permission from your academic department, you may be eligible to work overtime. However, keep in mind that study must be the primary activity for the F-1 visa. In the future, USCIS may consider that your work activities took priority over your studies, and this could negatively impact any immigration benefit requests from the U.S. such as OPT or H-1B.
While authorized for CPT, may I work remotely for a company outside of the U.S.?
CPT is a U.S. work authorization and therefore work done on CPT must be with a U.S. company.
Can I participate in CPT and work on-campus at the same time?
F-1 regulations do not prohibit a student from working on-campus while also participating in a CPT authorized off-campus internship. Keep in mind that study must be the primary activity for the F-1 visa. In the future, USCIS may consider that your work activities took priority over your studies, and this could negatively impact any immigration benefit requests from the U.S. such as OPT or H-1B.
May I work as an Independent Contractor and receive a 1099 while on CPT?
Since CPT is meant to be a practical training experience provided to the employee by an employer, participation in CPT under a 1099 independent contractor arrangement is not permitted.
What do I do if my work ends before the end date of my authorization?
If you are able to satisfy the requirements for your class before the CPT end date listed on your I-20, then no change with ISSC is needed. The CPT authorization end date on your I-20 gives general authorization; it is the last date a student can work, but it is not required that a student work up until that date. As a reminder, the end date as determined by your academic department takes precedence. Students cannot work beyond the date agreed upon with their academic department, even if their CPT I-20 has a later end date listed.
May I extend my internship into the next semester?
Please confirm with your academic department that you are eligible to continue your internship into the next semester. If they confirm your eligibility, then you will need to go through the same application process including requesting a new CPT I-20 from the ISSC. You cannot work beyond the dates listed on your I-20.
Should I pay tax for the income from CPT?
In the United States, all earnings/income is subject to income tax. Please refer to ISSC’s tax information web page.