What is CPT ? Difference Between CPT & OPT | Eligibility TO Apply For CPT

First of all, What does CPT stand for? CPT meaning is Curriculum Practical Training. CPT program is an employment authorization given to the F1 CPT Visa students for getting practical training knowledge related to the major field of study. The major field of study is listed in the I20. Curriculum Practical Training CPT may comprise of the CPT internship, co-active education experience or practical CPT classes participation, CPT Online training, offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements. Here we have given the rules for CPT Work Authorization for International students to get work permit USA.

What is CPT Definition?

Thus simply we can say that the CPT for International Students is a temporary work authorization related to your field of study in the united states. CPT Visa authorization is required for both paid and unpaid practical training in the United States and USCIS approval is not required for CPT. Curriculum Practical Training can be part-time i.e 20 hours or less or full-time with more than 20 hours per week.CPT course fees depend on the tuition and fees of the Academic University.

Who is Eligible for CPT Work Permit?

cpt visa

In order to be approved for CPT, F1 student visa holders must meet the following requirements:

  • CPT Visa status should be under Form F1 student visa.
  • Good academic performance.
  • Full-time F1 student for at least one academic year.
  • F1 visa holders must have an internship offer to obtain CPT work permit.

Since CPT Work authorization is for academic credit, F1 students need to be enrolled for corresponding internship course and can have the recommendation from an academic advisor. Few majors require CPT Visa for more than 2 semesters, then F1 Visa Students are eligible for additional CPT Extension.

Types Of CPT

CPT can be accredited to the following three classes only.

Degree-Based CPT: Employment is a graduation required for all students in a specific degree program.

Course-Based CPT: Employment is required for a particular credit-bearing course which counts towards the degree program.

Co-Operative CPT: Employment is a part of an established, formal cooperative educational agreement between the department and a specific employer.

Requirements of CPT In Final Semester

In certain situations, you may be able to do CPT in the final semester of your degree program. To be eligible for curricular practical training CPT in the final semester you must satisfy these below requirements.

  • Recommendation of the academic advisor.
  • Program end date on i20 must be sufficient since i20’s cannot be extended based on CPT.
  • CPT should be completed by the end of the semester.

 Limitations of F1 CPT

When you are approved for CPT, you will get a brand new I20 with the company name printed, and the period of time you are authorized to work. As F1 CPT Visa is a limited work authorization. CPT work permit has certain CPT rules to follow.

Limitation 1: Duration:

Students are not authorized for internship till the CPT start date printed on page 2 of your I20 and end date will also be printed on the 2nd page of your I20.

Limitation 2: Employer/ Internship provider:

CPT Visa only authorizes you to do practical training for the company or organization that is printed on page 2 of your I20. In CPT Visa you cannot change your employer without prior authorization from your university. To be approved for CPT, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The CPT internship must be related to your field of study.
  • CPT F1 Visa internship must be required by your student program of study.
  • Receive F1 CPT certificate for academic credit and a grade for the internship.
  • Must have a paid or unpaid job offer, in writing, before CPT jobs can be approved (CPT is employer-specific).

CPT Application process

Many students ask frequently How to apply for CPT? Here, we have given the F1 CPT visa Application process in step by step procedure.

Step 1:

Talk to your academic advisor to discuss F1 CPT internship options in your degree program.

Step 2:

Find an internship by contacting the academic advisor or departmental internship coordinator or career center or through online. Whenever you receive a CPT internship in the offer letter, it’s time for you to apply for a CPT. Internship offer letter must be printed on company letters head and should include jobs title, roles, and responsibilities, start and end date of your employment and number of hours per week.

Step 3:

After submitting offer letter to the university, the academic advisor will check for eligibility and issue a brand new I20 indicating start and end dates. If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) yet, you can apply at the nearest Social Security Office using CPT visa I-20. 

CPT and maintaining F1 CPT visa status

Maintaining Form F1 status during CPT is little different than the regular semester.

  • Be sure to stay enrolled and complete all requirements for the F1 student CPT internship course.
  • If you are doing part-time CPT, be sure to maintain full-time enrollment as well.
  • Only work for authorized CPT time and for the authorized employer.
  • You are not authorized for CPT visa until you have new I20 with CPT authorization. Doing practical training without authorization is a violation of F1 CPT visa status.
  • If you want to change your employer or stop internship early, speak to your academic advisor in prior before making any changes. It’s not always possible to change employers during CPT Program.

If you decide to travel outside the United States, you must have the following item when you re-enter the U.S

  • Valid travel signature.
  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months.
  • CPT F1 visa that is valid on the day you re-enter the US.
  • Proof of enrollment in the University/ School.

Part time Versus Full Time CPT

cpt visa

CPT can be admitted on a part-time or full-time basis.

  • Part-time CPT is 20 hours a week or less during the academic year.
  • Full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week and it is generally available to the students during the summer semester break.
  • For twelve months or more of full-time CPT, Students lose eligibility to apply for twelve months of optional practical training (OPT) after the completion of studies. Whereas Participation in part-time CPT does not affect the eligibility for post-completion OPT.

Difference between CPT and OPT

cpt visa

CPT OPT both are work authorizations given to f1 student visa holders. F1 Students seek CPT while they are still graduating in their college. F1 Students seek OPT under Form F1 Visa status after they have finished their graduation. 

CPT full form is curricular practical training which can contribute towards credits or can be considered as a subject towards graduation. CPT is generally issued per semester and if the need has to be renewed after each semester.

OPT full form is Optional Practical Training is initially issued for 12 months and with the latest rule amendments can be extended to for additional 24 months ( STEM extension). You can also check the complete information regarding OPT Stem extension. If you are in STEM field you can work for an E-Verified firm. OPT is an Optional program and is typically done during the summer as an internship or after graduation.

Consider CPT when you apply for an internship and OPT when you apply for a full-time job.

My Verdict

Finally, F1 Students who wish to accept employment off-campus must opt for Curricular Practical Training CPT. It is an integral part of established curriculum available for the completion of the degree program. F1 Visa Students must have a job offer at the time of CPT application to work in USA with CPT work permit. F1 Students can also choose part-time or full-time CPT OPT depending upon the academic study. We hope this article is helpful in knowing about CPT Definition & CPT work authorization in USA and Finally, stay tuned at America Master for latest updates regarding f1 visa news, CPT OPT extensions, H1B visa news and much more about MS In USA. 

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