Help for professional students in need of options after OPT.
At August Network, we specialize in helping professional students find CPT day one programs after their OPT expires. We have access to a selection of accredited and compliant programs with flexible attendance requirements and affordable tuition rates. CPT programs allow students to study while they gain practical experience at work.
If you are an F-1 student, you have the option of training in the United States by engaging in practical training during your program or after it ends.
Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. In fact, one of the most fascinating reasons for international students studying in the USA is finding an internship or job with a major company in the USA, since it is a great opportunity to gain real-world experience.
There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).
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What is CPT?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as an off-campus temporary employment opportunity for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing study programs in the United States and want to gain experience directly related to their major area of study or as an integral or important part of the program of study.
Who is eligible for CPT work authorization?
A designated school official (DSO) can authorize CPT for an F-1 student enrolled at an SEVP-certified college, university.
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
- Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year.
- Be in a valid F-1 status
- Have a job or internship offer
How to apply for CPT?
CPT is essential to your major and the experience you gain must be part of your program of study. Your DSO may authorize CPT during your first semester if your program requires this type of experience. Ask your DSO for details.
- Meet with your Academic or Faculty Advisor to discuss your CPT plans and your eligibility.
- Register for appropriate course that your CPT will correspond with.
- Obtain a job offer letter on official letterhead from your employer. CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer.
- Provide a Verification Letter from your employer.
- Apply for the CPT by Coordinating with Designated school officials to ensure they have all the necessary info to complete all the sections of the CPT application.
- The school DSO will Authorizes CPT in SEVIS for a specific employer. (you will be notified via email or mail on approval). You can then receive a printed and signed Form I-20 with CPT authorization.
- Be sure to print, sign and date your CPT I-20 and keep all the records in your personal files.
Please note that, you will not receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to begin employment (this is received on OPT).
CPT time limits, hours & dates
You can work on CPT either Part-time (20 hours per week or less) OR Full-time (more than 20 hours per week). However, one year or more of full-time CPT makes you ineligible for OPT at the same educational level.
Part-time CPT authorization, or fewer than 12 months of full-time CPT authorization, does not affect OPT eligibility. Multiple overlapping, part-time CPTs will count as full-time CPT days for OPT eligibility. Also, not that, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will review an OPT applicant’s entire CPT history when verifying OPT eligibility. You must report changes to your CPT terms to the international student adviser immediately. Start the CPT program with your employer on the outlined start date.
Do not start a job or internship until you receive CPT authorization from your University (new I-20).
Things you should know when you apply for CPT
- Your CPT should start before you graduate and after you have been at your university for more than one year.
- You cannot legally work before CPT is authorized in SEVIS.
- You can change employers while on CPT. However, as CPT is employer specific, you must apply for a new CPT authorization before you work for the new employer.
- The CPT application is free. There is no cost to the student for the CPT application.
- The CPT work authorization will be indicated on the 2nd page of the I-20. You can start working with your CPT employer once you have received the I-20 reflecting the CPT work authorization and the start date has begun.
- Plan head. CPT authorization takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks. However, processing time may vary depending on the peak requests time. So, it is highly recommended to think ahead and meet with your Academic or Faculty Advisor to discuss your CPT plans.
- You will only be permitted to work for the duration stated on your CPT approval documentation, exceeding this will breach the terms of your visa.
- CPT authorization is only required when the training is inside the United States.
You can also visit https://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training to stay informed on all federal regulations relating to CPT.