The purpose of practical training is to allow F-1 students the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in academic programs to a practical work experience. There are two different types of practical training: curricular practical training and optional practical training. This page discusses the rules and procedures that govern curricular practical training. For information on F-1 optional practical training, please see F-1 Optional Practical Training.
Definition of Curricular Practical Training
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that curricular practical training must be an "integral part of an established curriculum." They define curricular practical training as "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." 8 C.F.R. 214.2 (f) (10) (i)
The student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT. An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular practical training. It is available only while the student is in valid F-1 status and before the completion of his/her program. Students in English Language Programs are not eligible for CPT.
Crossroads/ISS can authorize curricular practical training for you if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment meets one of the three conditions below. (Please note that most undergraduate programs at Geneva generally do not qualify for CPT authorization.)
- The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum.
- The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit primarily, if not solely, on the basis of the training experience. Included in this category is employment for a course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience. Also included in this category is employment that will result in the award of at least one course credit for an independent study. In both of these cases you must register and complete the course during the period that you are working under CPT authorization.
- Students in dissertation status where the training opportunity is an absolutely necessary component of the student's research without which the dissertation cannot be completed may be authorized to undertake CPT. A letter from the student's dissertation advisor explaining in detail the relationship between the proposed employment and the student's dissertation research must be provided.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Curricular Practical Training
Part-time Training. During the school year while classes are in session, students can engage in CPT on a part-time basis, limited to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training, but you must be maintaining lawful F-1 status.
Full-time Training. A student can engage in full-time CPT during official College breaks and vacation. Full-time CPT allows the student to work more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time CPT, however, if you participate in 12 months (or 29 months if you are a STEM major) or more of curricular practical training you will not be eligible for post-completion practical training.
Application and Documentation Requirements
If you are unsure about your eligibility for CPT, you should first meet with Mrs. Ann Burkhead (if possible, please bring any of the below documents to the initial consultation). Otherwise, to apply for CPT, you must meet with Mrs. Burkhead and bring the following documents with you:
- The official offer letter on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. A photocopy is acceptable. The letter should include the employer's name, address and dates of employment.
- A letter from your academic advisor recommending the practical training experience and explaining the academic requirements that the proposed employment will fulfill. See guidelines for the academic advisor letter below.
- Proof of registration for CPT credits if you are earning academic credit for the training. Note: you must be registered for CPT credits in the same semester during which the work will be done. (i.e. You must be registered for CPT credits in the summer if you will be working in the summer.)
If you are eligible and have the documentation required for CPT, Mrs. Burkhead will authorize CPT by requesting a new SEVIS I-20. Processing time is 2 business days. You may engage in CPT employment only after you have received the I-20 with your CPT authorization from Crossroads/ISS. This work authorization is only for the specific employer, location, time period and on a part-time or full-time basis as approved and recorded by Mrs. Burkhead in SEVIS. You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work. To do so would be a violation of your nonimmigrant student status and would render you illegally present in the US, beyond the ability of Crossroads/ISS or USCIS to regularize your status.
Social Security Number
In order to work in the US, you will need a valid Social Security number (your Geneva ID number is not a valid Social Security number). The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you. To apply, please visit Crossroads/ISS for instructions.
In general, F-1 students who have been in the US for no more than five calendar years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as F.I.C.A. tax). You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local.
Employment Eligibility Verification
Within the first three days of beginning work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (USCIS Form I-9). This form will be kept on file by your employer and must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission. Your SEVIS CPT I-20 should meet the documentation requirement of the I-9.
Failure to Comply with Regulations
It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your student status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students, and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the US, we urge you to consult with Crossroads/ISS.
Guidelines for Academic Advisors Recommending Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
All letters of recommendation should include the following:
- Degree level
- Major and/or field of specialization
Proposed employment information:
- Employer's name and address
- Title of position
- Duties of position
- Beginning and ending dates of employment (if applicable, employment must be in the same semester as the registration for academic credit required for the CPT work authorization)
In addition, please provide information on the academic component of the proposed employment. Include the requested information as listed below when you explain why your student should be granted CPT:
1. If the training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary in the awarding of the degree:
- Verification that the internship or other employment is required of all students in the program
2. If the curricular practical training will result in the awarding of academic credit:
- Description of how the proposed employment is related to the student's field of study
- Course number, semester of registration, and number of course credits
- Ratio of hours worked to credits earned
- Evaluation method (e.g. written reports, journal, site visits, etc.)
- Grading scale
3. If the curricular practical training is an absolutely necessary component of the student's dissertation, without which the dissertation cannot be completed:
- Detailed explanation of the relationship between the proposed employment and the student's dissertation research.