CPT explained

CPT is a form of authorization available for eligible F-1 students before their program end date for experiential learning opportunities that are an integral part of an academic program at Northeastern University.

  • CPT authorization must be obtained for each and every co-op, internship, practicum, clinical and corporate residency, experiential PhD, or any other experiential curricular practical training, whether the activity takes place on-campus or off-campus, before any activity is permitted to start.
  • CPT can be either full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week).
  • CPT can be either paid or unpaid. All experiential activities require OGS authorization in advance. Retroactive authorization is not permitted by U.S. federal government regulations.
  • CPT is employer, location, full-time/part-time, and date specific. The employer’s name, address and the precise start and end dates must be authorized by OGS in advance.
  • Routine work from home or another remote location is not allowed under CPT authorization which requires hands-on experiential training at the reported address location. Occasional work from home or another remote location when sick, on vacation, or during trips outside of the office is permissible.

Please note once authorized for CPT, F-1 students must comply with the authorization granted. Any extensions, cancellations, or changes to authorized CPT must be first approved by the academic advisor/co-op coordinator and OGS prior to commencing any unauthorized activities.

Please note that non-curricular based on-campus activities (commonly referred to as “on-campus employment”) do not require CPT authorization.

Watch the Video »

Eligibility requirements

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

  • Must comply with all college academic and enrollment eligibility requirements and policies for any experiential activities, including every co-op, internship, practicum, clinical and corporate residency, experiential PhD, or any other experiential curricular practical training, whether the activity takes place on-campus or off-campus.
  • Must always be making satisfactory academic progress towards degree completion. CPT must 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 of full-time enrollment, which is defined as two full-time semesters or three full-time quarters (Change of Status and Transfer Students please read one academic year requirement section).
    • Undergraduate: minimum of 12 credit hours per term.
    • Graduate: minimum of 8 credit hours per term (9 credit hours per term in a 3-credit enrollment system).
    • Graduate students who hold an assistantship: 6 credit hours per term.
    • Enrollment in both Summer 1 and Summer 2 terms combined OR full Summer.
    • Please note: Time spent in the N.U.in program or English language programs such as NU Immerse/American Classroom/Global Pathways does not count towards CPT eligibility.
  • CPT request must be within current I-20 program dates (which can be found on the first page of the I-20).
  • Be enrolled in a co-op course or program required course that specifies requiring an outside of class experiential component in the syllabus. The student must be enrolled in this course for the entire period of authorized CPT.

Please note: It is an F-1 student’s responsibility to maintain their F-1 status. In order to apply for CPT at Northeastern they must be both academically eligible as well as compliant with U.S. federal government regulations as outlined above.

Video: CPT Eligibility

When and how to apply

To participate in an off-campus experiential training in the U.S, F-1 students must obtain CPT authorization from OGS. OGS will deny any requests for CPT that have not already been reviewed and approved academically by the appropriate advisor, co-op coordinator, or SEVIS contact.

1 Complete the e-form.

The student fills out the e-form with all requested information and documents. The documents the student 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 CPT being requested.

When the student has submitted the e-from it will be routed to the secondary approver as indicated in the e-from.

2 Secondary approver reviews student information.

The Secondary Approver (academic advisor, co-op coordinator, or SEVIS contact) who receives the application will review the information the student has entered and determine if they approve it academically. If approved, the Secondary Approver will submit the request to OGS. If the Secondary Approver does not approve of the request, they will email the student directly regarding their decision.

3 OGS reviews application.

Upon receipt of the application from the Secondary Approver, OGS will process the application in up to 10 business days. OGS will examine the student’s documents to determine if a student is eligible under F-1 federal regulations to participate in CPT. If the student’s CPT request is approved, the student will receive an email from OGS with further instructions. If the CPT request is denied, the student will receive an email from OGS with instructions on how to proceed.

4 Document pick-up.

Once notified by OGS, the student must pick up the I-20 or arrange for shipping if needed. The student must have CPT authorization and have collected the updated I-20 prior to commencing experiential training. Please check OGS website for current office hours.

Video: How to apply for CPT

Updating your CPT authorization

While on CPT it is important that you update OGS when there are changes in your authorization. These changes include:

  • Employer
  • Location
  • Date
  • Number of hours worked per week (full-time/part-time)
  • Cancellations
  • Other corrections

Once authorized for CPT, F-1 students must comply with the authorization granted. Any extensions, cancellations, or changes to your authorized CPT must be first approved by the academic advisors/co-op coordinators and OGS prior to commencing any unauthorized any activities.

Video: Staying in Status on CPT

How CPT affects Optional Practical Training (OPT) eligibility

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

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

It is the responsibility of the student to track of how much CPT time has been used per degree level. Students can use previously issued I-20s to document this. Students may also request a summary of their CPT authorization history at Northeastern from OGS via this e-form.

  • Part-time CPT (20 hours per week or less) does not accrue time towards the 364-day limit.
  • Students who require more than 364 days of full-time CPT at a degree level to complete their degree program are not in violation of their F-1 status, however they will lose OPT eligibility for same degree level.

Please note: OGS does not keep track and communicate if students will be exceeding the 364-day mark when students are requesting CPT authorization. Students must keep this in mind when requesting CPT authorization.

Video: How CPT affects OPT Eligibility

Change of Status and Transfer Students

Change of status

Full-time students who are applying to change their immigration status to F-1 within the U.S. (application through USICS) or by traveling (via consular processing) may be eligible to use time from a previous immigration status towards accruing benefits, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT), as long as the student has maintained full-time F-1 enrollment requirements.

Please contact OGS to make an appointment with an advisor to discuss CPT eligibility and bring all applicable documentation with you (for example a copy of your I-797 approval notice if you changed status within the U.S.).

Transfer students

Students transferring to Northeastern may be able to use accrued time towards the one academic year requirement from a previous institution.

Please contact OGS to make an appointment with an advisor to discuss CPT eligibility and bring all applicable documentation with you (for example a copy of your official transcript and previous I-20).

Please note if you transfer to Northeastern on an initial I-20, your one academic year accrual resets as an initial student.

Key Resources

CPT Authorization Request Form »

This form is to request authorization to go on Co-op or Internship

CPT Update Form »

This form is to update your authorization to go on Co-op or Internship

CPT Authorization History Request »

This form is to request your history of CPT days used

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