Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Internships for F-1 Students
United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of compensated or uncompensated (unpaid) internship for credit. Beginning work without authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or Washington College Global Education Office is a serious violation of your F-1 status.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option for F-1 students engaged in an academic program for whom work is considered an integral part of their studies.
Can I have a paid internship?
CPT authorization allows you to accept a one semester paid or unpaid internship in your field of study. You can be authorized for more than one semester of CPT, but each semester’s internship must be substantially different from previous internships.
When am I eligible for CPT?
To be eligible for CPT, you must fit all of the following criteria:
- be in F-1 status for one academic year of full time study (2 semesters, not including summer)
- be in a degree program
- find an internship in your field of study
- register for internship credit
Where can you work?
Employers offering internship opportunities in your field of study.
What are the academic requirements?
You must receive internship credit which counts toward your required credits for graduation.
Who approves your work authorization?
Washington College Global Education Office (reported to the USCIS)
What document will show your work authorization?
You will be issued a new I-20 with the CPT work authorization on page 3.
How long does the approval take?
Allow 3-5 business days. Note that you are not authorized to begin working until the CPT start date on page 3 of your I-20.
Full-time or part-time?
Either: in your internship registration forms you will need to specify “part-time” (20 hours per week or less) or “full-time” (over 20 hours per week), and this will be indicated in the authorization on your new CPT I-20.
- The immigration regulations do not limit the number of semesters you can be authorized for CPT, however the internship credits must count toward completion of your degree, so your department may limit the number of internships for which you are eligible (please contact your academic advisor for more information about your department’s policy).
- If you are authorized for a total of 12 or more cumulative months of full-time CPT you will lose your eligibility for OPT. (Note that this does not apply to part-time CPT).
- Each CPT authorization should be for an internship that is substantially different from previous CPT internships (not a continuation of the same internship with the same employer).