CPT Quick Links
All students interested in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must either attend an information session led by an ISSA Advisor or view the CPT video before completing the CPT Application at ISSAlink. You can find more information on our CPT Application Checklist.
International students in F-1 status are eligible in some circumstances to obtain employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is defined by US immigration regulations as employment that is an “integral part of an established curriculum.” The regulations further define CPT as “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.” Sponsored employment is structured employment that is monitored by Notre Dame through the student’s academic department.
A particular employment experience is an integral part of a student’s course of study if it meets one of the following conditions:
- The proposed employment is required of all students for the completion of the academic program.
- The proposed employment is required for a particular course within the program of study from which the students can choose. For this condition to apply:
- The course credits must count toward graduation and the course must appear on the student’s transcript, generally for the semester in which the employment occurs.
- The course must also be listed in the school’s course catalog with the assigned number of credits and the name of the faculty member teaching the course clearly indicated.
- There should also be a description of the course that clearly defines the course objectives.
- This condition may also apply to required thesis, dissertation or other research which corresponds to a course listed in the catalog in which the student must enroll to complete the academic program.
Each college has specific guidelines and timelines.You will need to speak to your academic, thesis, or dissertation advisor about their respective colleges expectations and procedures.
To be eligible for employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training, all of the following conditions must be met:
- Employment must be an integral part of the course of study as defined above.
- Student must enroll in a corresponding course during the semester in which the employment for CPT is authorized.
- Employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
- Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year.
- Exceptions exist for graduate students who are required by their academic programs to participate in internships prior to be being enrolled for a full academic year.
- Students previously enrolled in another immigration status may count lawful full-time enrollment toward this requirement. For example, a student enrolled for one academic year in H-4 status who changes immigration status to F-1 would meet this eligibility requirement immediately and would not be required to wait an additional academic year.
- Student must be maintaining lawful F-1 status.
- Student must maintain a full course of study as otherwise required during CPT.
- CPT is employer-specific, and the student must have a written offer of employment prior to application.
- No aggregate limit on CPT is established by regulations, but CPT authorization may affect eligibility for OPT.
- Students may be authorized for part-time or full-time employment depending on the situation:
- Part-time CPT is defined as employment for 20 hours per week or less and may be authorized during any term. Students must maintain a full course of study during the academic year. Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
- Full-time CPT is defined as employment for more than 20 hours per week. Full-time CPT may be authorized during the fall and spring semesters only if it is required for completion of the academic program. Authorization for 12 months or more full-time CPT makes student ineligible for OPT at the same academic level.
- CPT authorized for an off-campus employer does not affect eligibility for regular on-campus student employment.
- A new CPT endorsement is required for the student to begin work with a different employer, in a new position or for a different number of hours per week.
- CPT employment may not be authorized or continue after the completion of all required coursework.
- Exceptions exist for graduate students who require CPT to complete thesis or dissertation research.
- CPT employment may not be authorized or continue after the student has completed the degree requirements of the academic program.
To apply for employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training, students should complete the following steps:
- Attend a CPT Information Session presented by an ISSA advisor or view the informational video. This should be done within the current academic year of the CPT experience.
- View the CPT Application Checklist, which outlines the procedure and requirements.
- Complete and submit a CPT Application in ISSAlink. This includes uploading a copy of your employment offer letter.
- Ensure your academic advisor completes and submits the CPT Advisor Recommendation that will be emailed from ISSA.
- There is no application fee for CPT; however, please note that regular tuition rates apply for the associated courses.
- Current ISSA processing time is 2 to 5 work days.
- Documentation of employment authorization is in the form of an endorsement on page two of the student’s I-20 form.
Other Important Information
Curricular Practical Training is just one type of employment authorization available to F-1 students. Optional Practical Training (OPT) may offer an alternative to CPT for students who are interested in pursuing employment opportunities for which CPT is not permitted, such as a paid internship or work experience in the student’s field of study for which no course credit is available or that will take place after the completion of all required coursework. Because OPT requires USCIS to approve an application that may take several months to adjudicate, students are advised to discuss any possible employment opportunities with an advisor in ISSA as soon as possible to determine which type of employment authorization may be appropriate.
- Students must continue to enroll in a full course of study during the academic year while authorized for employment for CPT.
- Employment off campus may not begin until student receives an I-20 from ISSA that contains an endorsement for CPT and the start date has passed.
- A letter, signature or verbal approval from another campus office—such as the Center for Career Development or an academic advisor—DOES NOT constitute employment authorization for immigration purposes.