Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as a work experience that is an integral part of your program of study. A field assignment or employment must be part of an Internship course in your major. You are eligible for CPT after nine months presence in the U.S. as an F-1 student. See a foreign student advisor for application, and the required approval in case of paid internships. The deadline to obtain CPT approval is same as the add/drop deadline for each semester.

J-1 students may be eligible to participate in academic training under certain circumstances. Consult with the responsible official in the IESC for eligibility requirements.

General Information

CPT refers to any type of salaried employment, paid internship, or practicum that is related to an F-1 student’s field of study. IESC processes student requests for paid, off-campus employment authorization if required for a degree program or recommended by the department. CPT is authorized by a foreign student advisor from the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC). Employment authorization under CPT is endorsed on page 3 of the student’s I-20. 

Important: CPT dates coincide with the start and end dates of classes for each semester. Once a CPT has been authorized in SEVIS no changes except for cancellations can be made.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Regulation

8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (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."

8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (i) (B)

"SEVIS process. To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training, a DSO at a SEVIS school will update the student's record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student's major area of study. The DSO will indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, the employer and location, and the employment start and end date. The DSO will then print a copy of the employment page of the SEVIS Form I–20 indicating that curricular practical training has been approved. The DSO must sign, date, and return the SEVIS Form I–20 to the student prior to the student's commencement of employment."

Eligibility Requirements

  • Students must have been in legal F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year (two semesters) or nine consecutive months. Your F-1 status begins on your first date of entry into the United States.
  • Students transferring from another US institution to continue in the same degree program at the same level must complete at least one semester at CSUN.
  • Full-time Enrollment
  • Undergraduate students: 12 units

  • Graduate students: 8 units

  • Part time enrollment must be approved by IESC prior to authorizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    • Undergraduate students: 6 units

    • Graduate students: 4 units of graduate level classes

  • Government sponsored students must receive a recommendation to participate in CPT from their government sponsor. The recommendation must be submitted to the IESC office along with additional required documents.  
  • Students may choose to work full time or part time during the semester or during vacation periods.


  • Important! Use of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for a total of 12 months or more will cause students to lose eligibility for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • The job must be directly related to the student’s major field of study. A verification of this relevance must be submitted by the student’s academic department faculty advisor as a part of the CPT application.
  • Graduate students whose program requires immediate participation in a paid internship may participate in their first semester with verification from a graduate advisor in their academic department provided they have been in F-1 status for nine months.
  • CPT is not connected to a specific course unless indicated and required by the academic department. CPT can only be granted based on departmental support.
  • Engineering and Computer Science majors who will be participating in the Honors Coop Program should visit for more information.
  • When the CPT will not be connected to an internship course, the advisor is requested to provide as much information as possible (in a separate letter) to connect the employment to the student’s academic program.
  • Unpaid internships do not require CPT approval.
  • CPT authorization will be granted for one semester at a time.

Appllication Procedure

Please obtain the following documents and submit them to IESC. You may use the drop box. Please make sure that your application packet is complete and stapled together securely.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) cannot be authorized after the add/drop deadline of the semester in which the internship will be conducted if it is connected to a course. 

There is no submission or approval deadline for CPT that does not require enrollment in a course.

  • Employment offer letter from company. The letter must be typed on official company letterhead stationery with the address and must contain the employer’s original signature. The letter must include a description of responsibilities and state whether employment will be part-time or full-time as well as the start and end dates of employment.
  • Faculty Recommendation Form completed by professor supervising/supporting the internship. For students who are not required to be enrolled in any internship class, they will have to attach a letter from the instructor supporting the CPT request.
  • Enroll in internship class if required, print out and submit a copy of class schedule. An independent study can be used for internship if permitted by the academic department. The number of units that can be utilized for internships depends on academic departments.

Part time requests must be approved prior to authorizing CPT. 

The Designated School Official will:

  • Print a new SEVIS I-20.
  • Endorse the new SEVIS I-20 with full-time or part-time CPT authorization (includes information about employer, location, and period of time). This is the employment authorization.
  • Sign and date the new SEVIS I-20 and return it to the student.

IESC does not require any fees for the services it provides to international students. No fees, under any circumstances, shall be submitted to IESC.

Social Security Number (SSN)

All individuals who will be employed in the United States must have a SSN. Students who do not have a SSN must apply for one at the Social Security Administration prior to starting employment. 

Steps to apply for a SSN:

  1. Obtain employment authorization under CPT on I-20.
  2. Obtain an Employer Offer Letter. This letter must include the Employer Identification Number.
  3. Take the Employer Letter, along with passport, I-20 and I-94 to the Social Security Administration office and apply for a SSN.
  4. Students may return to the SSA office within three days to ask if they have been issued a number. If they have, the SSA office will provide a printout with the student's SSN. The Social Security card will be mailed in about 10 business days.

Note: It may take from 3 to 30 business days to obtain a SSN.

Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

Students and their employer must complete a form called "Employment Eligibility Verification" which the employer retains. The I-9 form must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your employment authorization.


Students in F-1 status are generally subject to federal and state income taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be refunded. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with IRS regulations.