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F-1 off-campus employment

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students to complete an unpaid or paid internship experience that is integral to the completion of their degree.


A student should obtain CPT authorization for all unpaid internships, whether the student does or does not need to provide employment authorization documents to the company. The F-1 regulations are written in such a way that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program, and as such is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility. CPT authorization is more than just permission to get paid.

  • Employment starts at the beginning of and completes at the end of each term (fall, spring, and summer). Exceptions may be considered if there is an academic justification.
  • Students who use 12 months of full-time (20 hours or more per week) CPT will not be eligible for OPT.
  • 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 adjust their policies and guidelines to ensure that internships meet the curricular criteria of the program. Requirements for CPT are not the same at every school.
  • The first step in determining  your CPT eligibility is to  consult with your Academic Advisor or Internship Coordinator.  

    Note: If your program does not offer an internship as part of your curriculum and you wish to participate in an internship, you will 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.
  • You must have been full time enrolled for one academic year of study.
  • 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 level
    • Internship engages the student in experiential learning, and the student has received departmental approval to add an internship to your iPOS or DARS and has not completed all credit requirements. 
    • Internship is necessary/integral for the student’s dissertation or thesis competencies.
  • Enroll  in an internship course as required or approved by your academic unit. If you have not enrolled in the internship course when applying for CPT, the application will be delayed.

Please Note: 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.

ISSC processing time is up to 7 business days, please plan ahead.  During peak seasons, processing time may be more than 7 business days. 

Each academic unit has specific timelines, policies, eligibility requirements, and forms that you need to be aware of.  Please consult with your academic advisor to fully understand your academic unit’s specific CPT process.

Do not apply for CPT before you have enrolled in your internship class.

We highly recommend that you attend a CPT information session prior to beginning the application process.

Approval Process

The authorization process for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may seem difficult to navigate.  The ISSC works closely with your academic unit to determine your eligibility to participate in an internship using the CPT work authorization.  The following factors are taken into consideration before we can consider your application:

F-1 Regulations

Full-time enrollment:

In order to maintain F-1 status, a student must enroll full-time. A graduate student is required to enroll in 9 credit hours with a minimum of 6 credit hours in person, or if the graduate student is an RA, TA or GSA, they are required to take 6 credit hours with a minimum of 3 credit hours in person. Undergraduates are required to enroll in 12 credit hours with a minimum of 9 credit hours in person.  Enrollment must cover the entire academic term through session C courses or a combination of session A and B courses. Please note that F-1/J-1 students may request a Reduced Course Load (RCL) through the RCL eForm if they meet the Reduced Course Load requirements.

Curricular Practical Training:

The Curricular Practical Training (CPT) regulation [8 C.F.R. 214.2(F)10(i)] states:

  1. i) Curricular practical training. An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the DSO. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement.

Academic unit:

ASU’s academic units develop the curriculum and determine the courses necessary to complete their degrees.  This would include any experiential learning opportunities such as internships.  

Although the federal regulations put forth a minimum number of credit hours a student must enroll in to maintain full time enrollment, each graduate program may also determine the course load required each semester to make academic progress toward the degree which is greater than the minimum set by the federal regulations. 

ISSC’s Role:

The ISSC works in conjunction with the academic units by requesting their input as to whether the requested internship allows each student to meet both the enrollment requirement and the CPT regulatory requirement.  In other words, is this internship opportunity an integral part of the established curriculum?  


Once you have determined your eligibility for CPT with your academic advisor, enroll in the internship course, then complete the CPT I-20 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 must be taken in person and cannot be taken online or via distance education.

If your academic advisor has questions or concerns, please have them email for clarification.

Submit your application materials through the ISSC eForm Portal to the CPT I-20 Request.

Information/Documents required: 

  1. Passport expiration date (must be valid at least 6 months into the future)

  2. Most recent I-94 arrival record (NOT your travel history).

  3. CPT Employer Information Form 

  4. Academic Advisor or Internship Coordinator name and email address to confirm academic unit process has been met.

    Once we receive confirmation from your academic advisor or internship coordinator, the ISSC can review your request. Please keep in mind that the ISSC has up to a 7 business day processing time for all requests which does not include weekends or ASU observed holidays. We are unable to consider students’ request to expedite their applications, so we recommend planning ahead.

    You may be contacted by phone or email if additional clarification or information is required.

  5. You will receive an email once the I-20 is ready.

Reviewing your CPT I-20

Please review your I-20 to ensure all the following information is correct:

  • Name, date of birth, country birth, country of citizenship, city of birth
  • Major 1
  • Employment authorization information (on page 2):
    • Type: CPT
    • Full/Part-Time
    • Status: Approved
    • Start date
    • End date
  • Employer Information 
    • Employer name
    • City & State

Full-Time vs. Part-Time CPT

It is important to adhere to the Full/Part-Time as listed on your I-20: 

  • If authorized for part time CPT, you must not work more than 20 hours per week. 
  • If authorized for full time CPT, you must not work less than 20 hours per week. 

CPT Employment

You should begin employment on the CPT start date on your I-20. The CPT authorization end date on your I-20 gives general authorization; however, 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. If at any time the location of your employment changes, you must immediately notify the ISSC. 

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 an SSN more than 30 days prior to the employment start date listed on your I-20.

You will need to apply for an SSN through the social security card center. Bring the following information to a social security card center:

  • Original offer of employment
  • Completed Application for a Social Security Card form
  • Passport
  • I-94
  • CPT I-20

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

Curricular Practical Training authorization may be extended for academic reasons only. The ISSC will not consider extension requests purely for the employment value. 

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.


Attending the F-1 Student Webinar Series workshops on employment authorizations will assist you in understanding the eligibility requirements and application process of obtaining employment authorizations while on an F-1 student visa.

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled time, don’t worry. These workshops will be posted to the ISSC YouTube channel.

Job search | Volunteering | Internships

Your college may also have a career and professional development service.

Optional Practical Training

(Pre-OPT | Post-OPT | STEM OPT Extension)

Case Management Payment 

Applies to Post-OPT and STEM OPT Extension only

The OPT Case Management Payment covers the cost of SEVIS reporting compliance and record management for students participating in Optional Practical Training. ISSC will continue to maintain your SEVIS record and provide immigration and advising support.  Support includes biographical changes, address updates, dependent document requests, employer and employment information and updates, travel signatures and I-20 form

Pay Post-OPT


Refunds will be considered under the following conditions:

  • Case Management Payment was paid in error  
  • ISSC determines that student is ineligible
  • Application is cancelled by the student prior to the issuance I-20

To request a refund please email

Application Tutorials

Self-Guided Pre-OPT Packet Review

Self-Guided Post-OPT Packet Review

Self-Guided STEM Extension Packet Review

Self-Guided Form I-983 Review 

Government Resources

MyUSICS: Students can now submit their applications online through myUSCIS eliminating the possibility of lost or delayed mail and allowing immediate access to all USCIS notices. Visit our main employment web page for the latest USCIS updates.

Form I-765 (Pre-OPT | Post-OPT | STEM OPT Extension)

Form I-983 (STEM OPT Extension only)

USCIS Ombudsman

SEVP Portal Student User Guide

SEVP Portal Overview