Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. You must be registered for a corresponding course within your identified curriculum path that is for the internship, co-op, or practicum. You cannot begin working until authorized by ISSS. Students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion practical training (OPT)—part-time CPT has no effect on your eligibility for OPT (from 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)).
Please continue to read below for further information on eligibility, CPT requirements, how to apply, and frequently asked questions.
Be sure to first attend one of our workshops to get all your questions answered!
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*Note, meetings will be arranged via zoom. If you are interested in joining the meeting, please email us prior at email@example.com by 12pm on the day of the event and send us your full name and student ID number with a note stating which workshop date you would like to attend. We will then provide the zoom meeting info in a follow up e-mail.
To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, an F-1 student must continue to make reasonable progress toward degree completion AND satisfy one of the following requirements:
The internship, practicum, or field placement/study is a requirement for the degree program and confer course credit. Student may work for the length of time that the curriculum requires for the degree. Full-time Curricular Practical Training is allowed during regular semesters under this criterion. Required CPT is defined as training/employment which is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. This requirement must be formally documented in the WVU catalog.
An F-1 student is required to have completed one academic year of studies to qualify under this criterion. The internship, practicum, or field placement/study is an integral part of the degree program and confers course credit, but is not a requirement of the degree program. Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) curricular practical training is allowed during regular semesters under this criteria. Full-time training is allowed only during vacation periods, such as summer vacation.
CPT is not intended as a way to begin a job before OPT is approved. It is your responsibility to reasonably expect that you will have authorization from ISSS to work by the time you are to begin employment. If you do not have authorization yet, you cannot begin employment. If you have completed your courses and the necessary research for your thesis or dissertation, you are generally not eligible for CPT.
You must be registered for a related/corresponding course throughout your CPT.
The total employment hours (on and off campus combined) may not exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session (fall/spring).
You may not engage in CPT prior to receiving an updated I-20 with your CPT employment authorization annotated.
Keep all original copies of any CPT I-20’s given to you. These will be required for future USCIS benefit applications such as for H-1Bs, Permanent Residency etc.
Additional information concerning worker's rights. Know Your Rights (Wilberforce Pamphlet) from the Department of State. An information pamphlet describing your rights while working in the United States.
Disclaimer: ISSS is able to provide you with general guidance. However, any advice provided to you by our office, as well as the information on our website or informational packets, do not constitute legal advice. Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, the USCIS may change its interpretation of immigration polices, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. This office will do its best to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that each case is fact-specific and it is advised that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation.
To Apply for CPT
International Students & Scholars Services (ISSS) will review each case submitted and determine the merit of each case. ISSS does not guarantee turnaround times; however, we strive to complete each request in the order that it is received and within 15 business days or within government deadlines. You should plan to allow for and expect at least 15 business days (from the date we receive a complete and correct request) for us to process your CPT request. Do not begin working until you receive authorization from ISSS. You may choose to speak to one of the international student advisors at ISSS to pre-determine your eligibility before submitting your documents. CPT is approved by ISSS and the office will let you know once your CPT has been authorized for your record.
To be sure that you receive CPT authorization in a timely manner, you should:
- apply at least three (3) weeks before your employment is to begin
- submit your employment offer letter from your employer with your request
- submit an electronic CPT Recommendation Form for approval from your Academic Advisor or Department Chair with your CPT application request below AND
Be registered for the corresponding academic course that will be used to assess your CPT experience and give you academic credit. The course must take place in the semester in which you will be doing your CPT.
To apply click here >> ( CPT Application) and upload all the required documents, answer all the questionnaires, and electronically send the CPT recommendation form to your Academic Advisor/Dept. Chair.
For Statler College of Engineering Student Only, please send the CPT recommendation for approval to Lloyd Ford.
For Chamber's Business and Economics Students Only, please send the CPT recommendation for approval to Ryan Noon.
Electronic I-20 Issuance is standard:
Pick up, Domestic Mail, and Express Mail is Optional.
Electronic Delivery (Standard) - Issuance of the I-20 via electronic means is now standard practice and is accepted by federal government agencies. You will be notified via your MIX email about how to access, print, and sign your I-20 once your request is complete. You still must print and sign your form I-20 once received electronically.
Print Copy Pick Up (Optional) - If you wish to pick up an original copy, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your student ID and reason for the need for a paper copy.
Print Copy Domestic Mail (Optional) - If you wish to have the I-20 sent to you via domestic mail (no expense to you), please send us an email requesting this option to email@example.com after you receive indication that your electronic I-20 is ready to access. Please be sure your mailing address is current ( update your address here), provide your student ID, and you must also provide a reason why you require a print copy when electronic copies are now standard. Please allow additional business days for processing and delivery.
Express Mail (Optional) - For express mail (student pays expense), please follow the directions below. Please note: Do not go to the DHL or FedEx sites directly.
Log into internationalservices.wvu.edu to check the status of your CPT application. Once the status shows, "Request Completed" you can request express mail. Do not pay for shipping before your status shows "Request Completed."
Go to https://study.eshipglobal.com and click on "Student Sign up" to create an account. When you are logged in, click on "Receive documents from university." Search for West Virginia University (or click on the state). Choose "International Students & Scholars Services (ISSS)." Fill out the required information, choose shipping preferences, and submit payment.
Once you have completed step 2, please be sure to email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you have chosen express mail and we can then download the shipping information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
A. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization that allows F-1 international students to participate in paid/unpaid off-campus practical training during their degree program. "Practical training" can include employment, internship experience (paid or unpaid), cooperative (co-op) education experience, practicum participation, etc. The purpose of CPT is academic, not just for employment purposes, and the internship must be considered an integral part of a student’s degree program. Students must have a specific job/internship offer to apply. Students CANNOT accept any kind of compensation for work performed in an unpaid internship.
Q. Who is eligible to apply for CPT?
A. Students who have been in F-1 student status for at least one academic year in a degree-seeking program can apply for CPT if they have properly maintained F-1 status each semester. The only exception to this rule applies to students who are in a degree programs where all students in the academic program are required to do internship/practicum hours sooner to fulfill degree requirements and this is clearly stated in the WVU course catalog.
Q. What is the difference between required and optional CPT?
A. Required CPT is defined as training/employment which is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. This requirement must be formally documented in the WVU catalog. Optional CPT is not required for the awarding of the degree, but is considered an integral part of a student’s degree program and the training employment will result in awarding of academic credit.
Q. I want to find a full-time internship and not enroll in classes during a regular semester (fall or spring) Can I apply for CPT?
A. Full-time CPT can only be authorized in your annual vacation term (summer) and during breaks between terms. The exception is if the CPT is required for all students in a particular academic program, during a particular semester in the academic year, and clearly stated in the WVU course catalog. Otherwise you’re required to maintain your full-time enrollment during fall and spring semesters and work no more than 20 hours per week in order to maintain your F-1 status, regardless of your CPT work plans.
Q. Can I do full-time CPT and still be eligible for the full 12 months of optional practical training (OPT)?
A. Yes. However, students who have been authorized for 12 months of full-time CPT become ineligible for OPT. USCIS will count the days of CPT authorization, and if you have had 365 days or more of full-time CPT, you will be INELIGIBLE for OPT. But any amount of full-time CPT adding up to less than 12 months has no impact on OPT eligibility, and part-time CPT does not impact OPT eligibility at all.
Q. My degree program does not require an internship, does this mean I cannot participate in an off campus internship?
A. Not necessarily. You may still be eligible to apply for CPT if you and your Academic Advisor can document how the training is an integral part of your course of study still in progress. You will be required to enroll in either an internship credit or an independence study course specifically designed for this purpose.
Q. I work on campus for less than 20 hours per week and I have been offered an internship off campus. Am I eligible to apply for CPT?
A. While there are no regulations that prevent this, it is not recommended that students hold an on-campus position while completing CPT. To best assess your specific situation, please be sure to speak with an international student advisor.
Q. I hold a Graduate Assistantship. Am I eligible to apply for CPT?
A. While there are no regulations that prevent this, it is not recommended that students hold an assistantship while completing CPT. To best assess your specific situation, please be sure to speak with an international student advisor.
Q. I have just been offered an internship opportunity that I want CPT authorization for. Can I begin work immediately?
A. No. You must apply for CPT at least fifteen (15) business days before you wish to begin work. You must have been approved for and have received an updated I-20 signed by ISSS and endorsed for CPT before you may begin work. Your CPT endorsed I-20 is what you’ll show your employer that you are authorized to work off campus. If you work off campus without pre-approved work authorization, you may be in violation of your F-1 status and may face consequences up to and including having your visa status terminated.
Q. Do I need to apply for CPT for an unpaid internship?
A. Yes. Remember CPT is often off campus employment. You should apply for work authorization for any internship/off campus employment/practicum, even if you will not be paid and wait for authorization before you can begin work.
Q. May I volunteer for an off-campus organization without CPT authorization?
A. Even if you are not being paid for work you are performing off campus, you may still require CPT authorization. "Volunteer work" is considered work for which no one would be paid and is charitable in nature, such as helping in a soup kitchen or walking dogs at an animal shelter. If you are working for a company, and doing work in your field of study, this would be considered "unpaid employment," which does require work authorization such as CPT.
Q. I’m still confused, so what is the difference between unpaid internship and volunteering?
A. There is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship. Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s field of study. The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines for those seeking an unpaid internship: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm
Q. Do I have to take classes while on CPT?
A. You must be enrolled as a full-time student during the semester of your part-time CPT work. If you are on authorized full-time CPT during your annual vacation term, you must be enrolled for at least an internship or independent study course that gives you academic credit for the work you are performing on CPT.
Q. My department/college does not have a specific internship course. Can I still participate in CPT?
A. Yes, as long as your Academic Advisor can identify an appropriate course for you to enroll in that will give you credit for the work you are performing on CPT. Some departments will enroll students in independent study credits for CPT.
Q. Is there a minimum credit requirement for the independent study and/or internship course?
A. There is no minimum credit requirement for CPT. However, you must receive at least one hour of credit, and you must maintain your full-time enrollment during fall and spring.
Q. Can I use my current CPT authorization for another internship since it has not yet expired?
A. No. A CPT authorization is a job-specific authorization, so you must submit a complete new application to ISSS for review if you wish to hold additional CPT employment opportunities.
Q. What should I do if I quit my training before the original anticipated CPT authorization end date?
A. You should contact ISSS immediately so that we can amend your authorization dates. This is especially important when you were authorized for full-time CPT, so that this time will not count against your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Q. Do I need to submit proof of enrollment for the past academic year?
A. No. ISSS will verify your enrollment history through the University Registrar's Office. However, if you recently transferred to WVU and wish to begin work on CPT prior to having been enrolled at WVU for one academic year, you will need to provide us with transcripts from your previous school to show that you have fulfilled the enrollment requirement.
Q. How do I know that I am authorized for CPT? And when may I begin work?
A. Prior to beginning your CPT employment, you must be in possession of an updated Form I-20, which will be properly endorsed with the CPT authorization on page three. Employment before or after your authorized dates of training is considered illegal employment with immigration ramifications.