CPT authorizes F-1 students to participate in temporary employment off campus that directly relates to their studies. CPT is:
- linked to a specific course
- includes university credits
- limited to the specific employer and employment dates listed on your CPT application
You must be authorized by both Career Services AND IPS before you begin CPT. When your request is approved, you receive a new CPT I-20 that shows your permitted work dates and employer.
The US government only authorizes CPT work for one semester at a time. If you have a multi-semester work opportunity, it is important that you follow instructions on the Career Services website one month before the end date of your CPT I-20. You will have to fill out the Google form for every semester.
CPT can be part-time, which is 20 hours per week or less, or full-time, which is anything more than 20 hours.
Students in F-1 status who have been enrolled full-time at Michigan Tech for at least one full academic year are eligible for Curricular Practical Training. Other eligibility factors:
- You maintain valid F-1 status.
- You have a co-op position directly related to your major area of studies.
- You maintain health insurance coverage while you are on CPT, including over the summer.
- You are registered and maintain enrollment in the co-op credits(s) through Michigan Tech's Career Services Office.
- CPTs require I-20 work authorizations that are issued one semester at a time. So, you must reapply for CPT every semester — even if there are no changes to your job.
- CPT is only available before you complete your degree.
- You must have a job offer when you apply.
- You cannot delay finishing your academic program because of taking a CPT.
- You can do CPT during the academic year or the summer.
- It is STRONGLY recommended you DO NOT do CPT in your final semester. It does not look good to USCIS and it could potentially cause issues with OPT and H1B.
- You are only allowed to do 364 days of CPT, if you work 365 days you are ineligible to apply for OPT. However, part time CPT does not count toward the 364 days.
- If you have done more than one CPTs, only the current one will be on your I-20, every CPT you have done is not listed on all your I-20s.
- If you are on CPT (and get a valid CPT I-20), you do not need to apply for a Reduced Course Load even if you are registered for less than full-time credits.
- If you are a Graduate student in Coursework mode and will end this current semester with 30 or more academic credits, you are no longer eligible for CPT. If you are an Undergrad with 128 or more credits, you may no longer be eligible for CPT. If you are in Thesis/Research Candidacy mode and have defended, you are no longer eligible for CPT and should apply for OPT.
- CPT processing can take 1-3 weeks from start to finish, as CPT processing is done through 3 MTU departments.
- If you just receive a job offer and apply for CPT, you CANNOT start working until you have the I-20. You may have to push your start date back because we may not be able to process the CPT immediately.
- Requesting IPS to process your CPT faster will not do anything, all CPT and OPT is processed first come first serve.
- Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long you can work. However, if you work full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, you are not eligible for OPT.
How to Apply
- You need a job offer letter from your employer on company letterhead. The letter must
- Your name
- Company name
- Company's main address
- The address where you will be working
- Co-op start and end dates*
- Number of hours you work each week
- Brief job description
- Complete and return the co-op application form through the Career Services Co-Op Office.
- CPT authorization starts in Career Services and IPS handles processing your I-20. When IPS receives your co-op approval we will give you a new I-20 listing your employer name, address, and start and end date.
- Please allow up to two weeks for processing.
Do not begin a job before you receive your employment authorization. Working off-campus without authorization violates your F-1 status.* See the chart below for Career Services approved dates.
Start and End Dates
- Start Dates: One week to the start of the semester through Monday, Week 2 of classes (Fall, Spring, Full Summer semesters)
- End Dates: No earlier than the last day of regular classes for the semester in which you are working. Graduating international students, please contact Career Services for more details on end dates (per governmental regulation you may not work past the last day of exams).
For specific dates for each semester, please visit Career Services' website here.
- Some students must take Curricular Practical Training because it is a degree requirement. If your academic department does not require training or work experience for your degree, then you must earn academic credit for your CPT. It is federal law.
- International Programs and Services cannot authorize your CPT unless it is a part of your degree work, or you have registered for a co-op with Career Services.
- Graduate students cannot use thesis or dissertation credits to fulfill the CPT credit requirement.
- Graduates and undergraduates participating in CPT must be registered with the Career Services Office and earn co-op credits—undergrads, 2 co-op credits; grad students, 1 co-op credit.
CPT is Ending and you are returning to campus
- Sign up for classes for the next semester before the registration deadline.
CPT is Ending and you are graduating
Look into these options EARLY
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In IPS, we ask that students do not email the same email to multiple office emails or multiple office staff. This commonly happens with students on OPT emailing Machel and OPT the same email. When students do this it creates extra work, so we ask all of our students to mainly only email firstname.lastname@example.org or if it is OPT related, email@example.com. Please refrain from emailing IPS staff directly, if needed you email will be forwarded to anyone necessary.
You need to keep all of your I-20s because you will need copies of all of them when you apply for 12 month OPT, STEM Extension and H1B. It is also an immigration document and you should keep all documents regarding immigration. If you think you are missing an I-20 fill out the Missing I-20 Google Form and we can make you copies of any prior I-20.
You must change your address in Banweb under the future mailing address tab. You must update your address no more than 10 days after any move. IPS DSOs have a time frame to complete address changes so do not panic if your SEVIS address does not change right away.
CPT authorization is strongly recommended for all unpaid internships, whether the student does or does not need to provide employment authorization documents to the company. The F-1 regulations are written so that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program. As such, it is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility. CPT authorization is more than just permission to get paid.
It would be best if you had CPT authorization for unpaid internships for the following reasons:
- CPT authorization by the university serves to demonstrate that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
- CPT authorization is a way of reporting in SEVIS the student's activity, employment, and the location where they are working and maintaining their status.
- If ever a student is doing a job on an unpaid basis that someone would be hired and paid for, employment authorization in the form of CPT, OPT, etc. is advised.
- If the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won’t be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT. Please keep in mind that F-1 students cannot be retroactively remunerated or in any way compensated for work done in an unpaid internship if they did not obtain work authorization before when the work was performed.
Based on the above, we recommend that you apply for CPT authorization if you have an internship offer (paid or unpaid) that meets CPT eligibility criteria.
If the position is unpaid and for some reason, you can't obtain CPT authorization, please make sure that your prospective supervisor is aware of the U.S. Department of Labor regulations concerning unpaid internships and that you have assurances (preferably written) to that effect before you accept the position. We also recommend that at the end of your internship, you ask your employer to provide you with a letter confirming that there was no remuneration or any other type of compensation provided in any form during the dates you were participating in the internship. Please keep such a letter for your permanent records.
Fake employer information, Voluntary employment in which students are not actually volunteering, Not working in the actual field of study but submitting documents stating otherwise.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced their Operation Optical Illusion, a law enforcement operation are targeting nonimmigrant students who fraudulently used the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to remain in the United States. OPT enables nonimmigrant students to work in the United States in positions related to their field of study for up to one year, with an additional 24 months if the student participates in STEM optional practical training.
Students who claim to be employed by companies that don’t exist can be arrested, and their F1 visa revoked and deported. “ICE has a system of checks in place to mitigate fraud and is committed to protecting national security by ensuring that students, visitors, and schools comply with U.S. immigration laws. If you state you are working voluntarily and are not actually volunteering but trying to eliminate using the 90 days of allotted unemployment is illegal and considered fraudulent.
The agency will continue to vet students who gained new employment through OPT for compliance with their nonimmigrant status.
CPT is authorized with the understanding that you will be working during the entire listed employment period, therefore it is best to not travel out of the US during your CPT dates. If you must travel, you should discuss your travel plans with your employer. You need to have a valid travel signature whenever you travel out of the country. Valid means within 6 months of when you will return to the US. Travel signatures on the second page of the 1-20 are valid for 6 months from the date of issuance. If you will be returning even one day after the 6 month period you must request a new travel 1-20. IPS does not endorse the practice of travel outside of the U.S. without consulting with or notifying your employer.
In addition to your valid immigration documents, we recommend a letter from and signed by your employer on official company letterhead indicating they have approved your travel outside the U.S. during your authorized employment period and that you will be returning to complete the CPT employment period or the CPT employment period has ended.
No, it is the same process.
If you wish to extend your CPT please contact Career Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. All CPT begins in Career Services. Once approved IPS handles the CPT I-20 generation.
CPT processing can take up to two weeks as its a collaboration of 4 different offices at Tech. The 1-20 processing can take 7-10 business days. All CPT and OPT is processed first come first serve no exceptions.
If you work over 364 days on CPT you will lose your eligibility to apply for OPT.
No! We recommend that if you have any OPT application pending (12 Month or STEM Extension) that you do not travel abroad. You run a higher risk of getting detained, and if you are to get detained IPS is unable to help you. However if you do choose to do so make sure your travel signature on the second page of your I-20 is valid (within six months). If you need a new signature you may either come to the IPS office to get it signed or fill out the Travel I-20 Request Google Form.
Students should not take other courses on CPT besides the required CPT course. While on CPT, students should focus on the CPT course and the employment. If you choose to take extra courses against our advice and you fail a required course, you need to Know IPS can NOT grant program extensions due to CPT participation and failed courses. This can have severe ramifications for your F1 visa status. Has this happened in the past? YES, tread cautiously.
No, students on CPT do not need an RCL even if they are enrolled for less than full-term credits.