Curricular Practical Training explained

Curricular Practical Training is a form of work authorization available to F-1 students before their program end date. Because Curricular Practical Training is a required part of an academic program—optional experiential learning opportunities are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training.

  • Curricular Practical Training authorization must be obtained for each and every co-op, internship, practicum, clinical and corporate residency, or any other experiential training whether on or off-campus
  • Curricular Practical Training can be either full-time (More than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week)
  • Curricular Practical Training can be either paid or unpaid. Unpaid off-campus opportunities still require the Office of Global Services authorization. (Authorization is required regardless of compensation)
  • Curricular Practical Training is employer, location, and date specific. The employer’s name, address and the precise start and end dates must be authorized by the Office of Global Services in advance in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. (Students are not allowed to work outside of these dates or parameters without receiving authorization first from the Office of Global Services)

Students cannot start employment prior to obtaining Curricular Practical Training authorization from the Office of Global Services. Working for even one day outside of the dates authorized by the Office of Global Services is a violation of student status. Any orientation or training days, even unpaid ones, must be authorized by the Office of Global Services in advance. Any extensions, cancellations, or changes to the dates or employer must be first approved by the co-op coordinator or academic advisor and then authorized by the Office of Global Services prior to the change

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Eligibility requirements

In order to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, students must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Must comply with all college academic eligibility requirements and policies for any experiential opportunities including co-op
  • Must always be making satisfactory academic progress towards degree completion. (Curricular Practical Training should not cause a delay in the completion of a student’s academic program)
  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Must have completed at least one academic year which is defined as two full-time semesters or three full-time quarters. (Change of Status and Transfer Students please read section below)
  • Requesting Curricular Practical Training within current program dates. Curricular Practical Training cannot go beyond the program end date which can be found on the first page of the I-20
  • Be enrolled in a co-op course or enrolled in a program required course that specifies a required off-campus experiential component in the syllabus. (The student is enrolled in this course for the entire period of authorization that is being requested)

NOTE: It is your responsibility to maintain your current visa status. In order to apply for Curricular Practical Training at Northeastern you must be both academically eligible as well as compliant with federal regulations as outlined above.

Video: CPT Eligibility

One academic year eligibility requirement

Change of status

Students changing their immigration status to F-1 may use time from a previous immigration status towards meeting the one academic year requirement.

One academic year is defined as three quarters or two semesters. The academic year must meet the full-time F-1 standards defined below:

  • Graduate students: Minimum of 8 total credits, 4 of which need to be completed on-ground
  • Undergraduate students: Minimum of 12 total credits, 9 of which need to be completed on-ground
  • Enrollment in both Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms combined can count as one semester or one quarter towards meeting the above one academic year requirement, (including on-ground enrollment in both Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms)
  • Time in an English language program does not count

If you are changing your immigration status to F-1 and would like to engage in Curricular Practical Training before meeting the one academic year requirement after your change of status is approved, you will need to contact the Office of Global Services to make an appointment with an advisor and bring a copy of your I-797 approval notice.

Transfer students

Students transferring to Northeastern may be able to use time from a previous institution.

One academic year is defined as three quarters or two semesters. The academic year must meet the full-time F-1 standards defined below:

  • Graduate students: Minimum of 8 total credits, 4 of which need to be completed on-ground
  • Undergraduate students: Minimum of 12 total credits, 9 of which need to be completed on-ground
  • Enrollment in both Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms combined can count as one semester or one quarter towards meeting the above one academic year requirement, (including on-ground enrollment in both Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms)
  • Time in an English language program does not count

If you are transferring to Northeastern and would like to engage in Curricular Practical Training before meeting the one academic year requirement, you will need to contact the Office of Global Services to make an appointment with an advisor and bring copies of all relevant official transcripts to review your eligibility for Curricular Practical Training.

Selecting dates for authorization

The image below can be used to help determine the start and end dates of the term(s) students will be enrolled. NOTE: Each semester starts with a white line that represents the first day of classes and ends with a white line that represents the last day of finals. The short spaces in between the terms represent either winter break or the few days that exist between the end of finals for one term and the start of classes for the next term.

Disclaimer: The dates must always be approved by the academic or co-op program associated with your enrollment.

When and how to apply

To participate in an off-campus opportunity in the USA, F-1 students must obtain Curricular Practical Training authorization from the Office of Global Services. The Office of Global Services will deny any requests for Curricular Practical Training that have not already been reviewed and approved academically by the appropriate advisor, co-op coordinator, or Student and Exchange Visitor Information System contact.

1 Complete the e-form.

Fill out the e-form with all requested information and documents. The documents you will need are the following:

  • I-94 that indicates “Class of Admission” as “F-1” and “Admit Until Date” as “Duration of Status”
  • Passport that is valid for at least the start date of the Curricular Practical Training being requested

2 Route application to secondary approver.

For a walk-through of how to complete the e-form and how to send the e-form to the appropriate Secondary Approver, please watch this video.

3 Secondary approver reviews student information.

The Secondary Approver who receives your application will review the information you have entered and determine if they approve it academically. If they do approve, the Secondary Approver will then submit your request to the Office of Global Services. Upon receipt of your application from the Secondary Approver, the Office of Global Services will process your application in up to 10 business days. If the Secondary Approver does not approve of the request, they will email you directly regarding their decision.

4 Office of Global Services reviews application.

The Office of Global Services will examine the student’s documents to determine if a student is eligible under F-1 federal regulations to participate in Curricular Practical Training. If your Curricular Practical Training request is approved, you will receive an email from the Office of Global Services with further instructions when your I-20 with Curricular Practical Training authorization is ready for pick-up. If your Curricular Practical Training request is denied, you will receive an email from the Office of Global Services with instructions on how to proceed.

5 Document pick-up.

Once notified by the Office of Global Services, you must pick up your I-20 from our office or arrange for shipping if needed. You must have Curricular Practical Training authorization and have collected your updated I-20 with Curricular Practical Training authorization prior to commencing your work experience. If you are unable to collect or receive your documents before your start date but after you have been approved by the Office of Global Services, please call the Office of Global Services to determine what your final approved Curricular Practical Training start date is. Please check the Office of Global Services website for current office hours and closures.

Video: How to apply for CPT

How CPT affects OPT eligibility

If an F-1 student exceeds 364 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training (more than 20 hours per week at a degree level—bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate), they will lose their eligibility for Optional Practical Training at that degree level.

Part-time Curricular Practical Training (20 hours per week or less) does not accrue towards the 364 day limit.

When counting Curricular Practical Training days, every day between the start and end date of Curricular Practical Training counts (including the start and end dates). The days that you are counting are the days that you had authorization, not the days you actually worked. This means even if it was a weekend, holiday, vacation etc. it still counts if you had Curricular Practical Training authorization.

It is the responsibility of the student to keep track of how much Curricular Practical Training time has been used per degree level. Students can use past I-20’s to keep track of this. The Office of Global Services also provides an e-form titled Curricular Practical Training Authorization History Request. This e-form will provide you with a screenshot of the Curricular Practical Training time you have used at your current degree level at Northeastern. Time used at another institution is not available from Northeastern.

Some students may be required by their curricular program to complete more than 364 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training at a degree level. Students in this situation should note that going over the 364 day mark is not a violation of their F-1 status but does trigger the loss of Optional Practical Training for that degree level.

The Office of Global Services does not keep track of whether or not you will be exceeding the 364 day mark when you are applying for Curricular Practical Training. Please make sure you are counting carefully before selecting dates if you are approaching 364 days.

Video: How CPT affects OPT Eligibility

Staying in status

Unauthorized employment will place the student in serious violation of his or her F-1 status. According to immigration regulations, students who have their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record terminated for engaging in unauthorized employment are not eligible to apply for reinstatement within the USA. In order to regain status, the student may need to leave the USA and re-enter the country in valid F-1 status with a new I-20. Each situation is unique and requires evaluation to determine the best course of action. NOTE: Re-entry on a new I-20 requires the accrual of one academic year of full-time enrollment to regain eligibility for future benefits including Curricular Practical Training and/or Optional Practical Training.

Please contact an advisor at the Office of Global Services if you feel you have a situation that requires evaluation.

Updating your CPT authorization

While on Curricular Practical Training it is important that you update the Office of Global Services when there are changes in your authorization. These changes include:

  • Employer
  • Location
  • Date
  • Number of hours worked per week (full-time/part-time)
  • Cancellations
  • Corrections needed due to typo

It is important you do not engage in these changes until you have received your updated I-20 from the Office of Global Services. Also note, the Office of Global Services will not update Curricular Practical Training unless you have approval from the original advisor who signed off on your Curricular Practical Training Authorization Request Form.

Video: Staying in Status on CPT

Related Articles:

Economic Hardship

Sometimes in life, the unexpected happens. If you experience a financial hardship and you are currently studying in the USA on an F-1 visa, you may request an employment authorization.

Reporting STEM Extension OPT (F-1)

Discover what F-1 students are required to report during their 24-month Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) extension.

Reporting Post-Completion OPT (F-1)

F-1 students on Post-Completion Optional Training are required to report specific changes of their status to the Office of Global Services (OGS). See the full list below.