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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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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 (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). This page discusses the rules and procedures that govern CPT. For more information on F-1 OPT, please see F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).

In addition to reading through this web page, please also read through the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Information, FAQ, and Instructions document.

Definition of Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that CPT must be an “integral part of an established curriculum”. They define CPT 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.

Eligibility
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 CPT. 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.

Criteria
Jillian in the Crossroads/ISS Office can authorize CPT 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.)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 CPT
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 CPT, 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 CPT, you will not be eligible for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Application and Documentation Requirements
If you are unsure about your eligibility for CPT, you should first meet with Jillian Moomaw in Crossroads/ISS. If possible, please bring any of the below documents to the initial consultation.

  • The official job 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 completed Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Eligibility Form which can be downloaded here by clicking the name of the form, or by coming to Crossroads/ISS for an already printed form.

Authorization Procedures
If you are eligible and have the documentation required for CPT, Jillian will authorize CPT by requesting a new SEVIS I-20. 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, and time period as authorized and recorded by Jillian in SEVIS. This also applies to full-time or part-time CPT, so if any of the details about your CPT employment change, you must inform Jillian immediately.

You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work. To work outside of you CPT authorization dates would be a violation of your F-1 student status and would render you illegally present in the USA, beyond the ability of Crossroads/ISS or USCIS to regularize your status.

Social Security Number
In order to work in the USA, you will need a valid Social Security Number (SSN). Your Geneva ID number is not a valid SSN. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you. To apply, please visit Mrs. P in the Crossroads/ISS Office for instructions.

Taxes
In general, F-1 students who have been in the USA for less than five calendar years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as FICA). 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. A small bit of direction on how to complete the I-9 is listed in on the second page of the CPT Information, FAQ, and Instructions document.

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 will lose all F-1 benefits, your I-20 will be terminated, and this can lead to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the USA, we urge you to consult with Crossroads/ISS.


Guidelines for Academic Advisors Recommending Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Instructions Academic advisors need to fill out a CPT Eligibility Form and this form should be provided to you by the student. The student can get the form from the website or by coming to Crossroads/ISS to pick up a pre-printed form.