Curricular Practical Training

For Students in F-1 Status

What is Curricular Practical Training?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) defines "curricular practical training" as employment that is an integral or important part of curriculum, including: "... alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreement with the school." At Manchester Community College, the term “co-op,” “internship,” and “field experience” are used to describe opportunities for Curricular Practical Training.

What jobs qualify?

To be considered Curricular Practical Training, the work must be related to your current major field of study AND must also be an integral or important part of your studies. Your academic department must determine if the job qualifies for the Curricular Practical Training.
  • Employment that is required for your degree program always meet the requirement for curricular practical training, regardless of whether or not you receive academic credit for your work.
  • Employment that is not required for your degree program may meet the requirements for curricular practical training if you receive academic credit for the employment experience and if it is an important part of your study.

How do I qualify?

Employment that is a required part of your degree program.

If:
  • you are a graduate student, and
  • you are maintaining lawful F-1 status, and
  • the proposed employment is the required part of your studies, and
  • you meet all academic criteria set by your academic department,
you may apply for permission to engage in curricular practical training whenever your program requires your participation, even if it is immediately upon beginning your studies. Undergraduate students must have completed two semesters of full-time study in order to be eligible for any form of curricular practical training.

Employment that is not a required part of your degree program.

In order to be eligible to apply for permission to work in a job which is not a required part of your study program, you must:
  • be in lawful F-1 status and
  • have been a full-time F-1 student for at least one full academic year and
  • meet all academic criteria set by your academic department.

When may I start work?

You must not start work until you receive a new I-20 form with specific written permission on page 3. Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 student status. You should consult with the Designated School Official before taking up any employment. The DSO will advise you regarding your responsibilities; however, it is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations that apply to F-1 students.

How many hours per week may I work?

Your academic department must approve your request for curricular practical training including how many hours per week you are approved for work. Part-time Training: Employment for 20 hours or fewer per week while you are also enrolled full-time is considered “part-time” Curricular Practical Training. The employment authorization written on the back of your I-20 form will specify permission to engage in “part-time” training and you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limit on the number of semesters that you may participate in part-time Curricular Practical Training, but you must be simultaneously enrolled ful-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. Full-time Training: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered “full-time” Curricular Practical Training and the employment authorization written on the back of your I-20 form will specify permission to engage in “full-time” training. There is no limit on the number of semesters that you may participate in full-time Curricular Practical Training, but if you participate for twelve months or more, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (see next paragraph).

How long may I participate in CPT?

Your academic department may have limits on the number of credits of Curricular Practical Training that you may register for. However, if you participate for twelve months or more of “full-time” Curricular Practical Training, you lose eligibility to apply for twelve months of Optional Practical Training. Participation in part-time Curricular Practical Training does not affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training.

Application and Authorization Procedures

Bring the following to the DSO:
  • a letter from your prospective employer that describes the position
  • a recommendation from the Director of Co-operative Education (attached to this information sheet)
  • proof that you have registered for co-op, internship, or field experience
You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the day authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted an extension of your permission to work.

What paperwork do I need to do when I start work?

When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled “Employment Eligibility Verification” (USCIS form I-9), which the employer retains. The I-9 must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission. Your I-20 will have a specific employment authorization on page 3. In general, F-1 students who have been in U.S fewer than five years are exempt from Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes. See IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for detailed information. This publication is available on-line at www.irs.gov. Your earnings are subject to applicable federal, state and local income taxes. A tax return is due on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of these taxes may be refunded.
Last Update: April 09 2009
For additional information, contact: Robert Henderson