Watch a Tutorial on the CPT Eligibility and Application Process

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing a program of study at SJSU and want to gain practical training in their major fields of study. CPT may be authorized for a paid or unpaid position. Employment on CPT may include internships, practicums, cooperative education and other types of off-campus employment. Most CPT positions are off-campus; however, there are also a limited number of jobs located on-campus that require CPT authorization.  

Although gaining practical training is a valuable complement to a student's education, the primary purpose of F-1 status is full-time study. As a result, F-1 students are encouraged to focus on their academic success and ensure that CPT employment activities do not interfere with the primary purpose of their stay in the U.S.


How long does it take to receive CPT authorization?

ISSS requires 1 to 7 business days (excluding weekends and other campus closures) to process your application. After submitting a complete application to ISSS, you will receive an email within 7 business days to pick-up your CPT I-20. Incomplete applications or failure to enroll in a CPT course prior to submitting your application to ISSS will result in a delay in processing.  


Am I eligible for CPT authorization?

You may be eligible for CPT authorization if you:

  • Watch the F-1 Employment Tutorial offered by the ISSS office;
  • Are currently in valid F-1 status;
  • Are currently pursuing a degree program at SJSU;
  • Are currently enrolled full-time (excluding summer break) or have been authorized by ISSS for a Reduced Course Load (RCL);
  • Were enrolled full-time for at least two consecutive semesters (excluding summer break);
    • One semester of study as a full-time student at another SEVIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary may be counted to fulfill this requirement if there was no break between programs. English language programs and Open University enrollment may not be counted. 

    • Students who attended school full-time in another non-immigrant status (e.g. H-4 or H-1B) may count one semester or up to one academic year of full-time study prior to changing to F-1 status. To count your first semester in F-1 status, you must have been in F-1 status from the first day of classes for that semester. 

  • Have a current job offer from your employer;
  • Are enrolled in an internship course or individualized studies course within your major department during the same term as the CPT experience;
  • Are in good academic standing (minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for graduate, 2.0 for undergraduate); and
  • Are not enrolled in an extension of your project/thesis/comprehensive exam or 1290R


Am I required to enroll in a course for CPT?

Yes. Federal immigration regulations require CPT to be an integral part of your academic program. At SJSU, this means you must enroll in a course (independent study courses are not advisable but still permitted) that requires work experience to complete the course requirements. The only time you are not required to enroll in a course for CPT is when your department requires work experience to complete your degree program, but does not require course enrollment. This must be true for all students in the same degree program.

Please note:

  • The course/independent study must be offered through your major department.
  • The course/independent study may count toward your full-time enrollment requirement for either fall or spring semesters.
  • If you are in your final semester, you must register for at least one course required to complete your degree program in addition to the CPT course. Unless it is a requirement of your degree program for all students, you may not enroll in only a CPT course during your final semester. This also applies to students graduating during the summer break when enrollment is not required.


Do I need a job offer to apply for CPT?

Yes, you must have a current job offer letter to apply for CPT because CPT is authorized for a specific employer and for a specific length of time.


What information must be included in the offer letter from my employer?

The letter must be signed by your employer, be on company letterhead, be dated within the last 3 months, and include:

  1. Your job title;
  2. Description of your general day-to-day work responsibilities;
  3. Exact employment start and end dates;
  4. Number of hours per week you will be working: Full-time (more than 20 hours/ week) or part-time (20 hours or less/ week); and
  5. The exact physical address of the location of your employment including: 
      • Street number
      • Street name
      • Suite/Building number (if applicable)
      • City
      • State
      • Postal Code


Am I allowed to work as an independent contractor (1099 employment)?

No, we do not allow 1099 independent contractor positions for CPT. 


When may I begin working?

You may begin your CPT employment after you have obtained your I-20 with CPT authorization from ISSS. CPT authorization cannot be backdated.

CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis for a specific time frame and a specific employer. Each semester requires a new CPT authorization, even if it is with the same employer. You may not begin working before the start date or continue working after the end date listed on your I-20. The CPT dates on your I-20 will match the dates listed on your offer letter.   

The possible CPT authorization dates for the 2018-2019 school year are as follows:

  • Summer 2019: May 23, 2019 to August 16, 2019
  • Fall 2019: August 19, 2019 to December 18, 2019


What if I begin working before I receive my CPT I-20?

Working before you have your new CPT I-20, starting before the CPT start date or continuing to work after the end date, or working for a company other than the one listed on your I-20 is considered unauthorized employment and will result in the termination of your SEVIS record. 


How many hours may I work per week?

Fall and Spring CPT

  • You may work part-time (20 hours/week or less). You may work variable hours each week, but no more than 20 hours.
  • Even in your final semester or while on project/thesis/comprehensive exam you are limited to part-time work as a graduate or undergraduate student.

Summer CPT

  • You may work full-time (20 hours/week or more). You may work variable hours each week.
  • You must continue to be enrolled for the following fall semester to be eligible.
  • If you are graduating in the summer, you must be enrolled in at least one course that is required for your degree program in addition to the CPT course to be eligible.


Is there a limit on the number of CPT authorizations?

Although gaining practical training is a valuable complement to a student's education, the primary purpose of F-1 status is full-time study. F-1 students are encouraged to focus on their academic success and ensure that CPT employment activities do not interfere with the primary purpose of their stay in the U.S. 

Some academic departments may limit the number of times you may enroll in the internship course. Some departments may only allow you to enroll once, twice or not at all. Check with your department academic advisor for more information.


Is there a deadline to submit my CPT application?

Summer 2019 CPT application submission deadline is July 1, 2019.

Please periodically check our website for CPT deadlines for future semesters. 


May I change employers?

No. You may only work for the employer listed on your I-20. If you wish to change employers, you must wait until the next semester to obtain a new CPT authorization.  


May I work for multiple employers in the same term?

No. You may only be authorized to work for one employer per semester.


May I extend my CPT?

Yes, you may work for the same employer for more than one authorization period. You must allow for up to 15 business days for processing to receive your next CPT authorization and may not continue working unless you have your new CPT I-20 in your hands.


What happens if my internship is cancelled or terminated?

Please come in to discuss your situation with an International Student Advisor during walk-in advising hours.


How will CPT impact my OPT period?

Time used on CPT will not be deducted from your OPT; however, students that use 12 months or more of full-time CPT will not be eligible for OPT.


How do I apply for CPT?

  1. Confirm with your major department to confirm that they offer an internship course or an individualized studies course and that you are eligible to have an internship.
  2. View the CPT tutorial video.
  3. Complete the ISSS CPT form and take it with your employment offer letter to your academic advisor for review. Your academic advisor must sign the CPT form and will give you an add code for the class.
  4. Enroll in the class.
  5. Submit the completed ISSS CPT application form and a copy of your offer letter to ISSS.
  6. We will email you within 15 business days to pick-up your CPT I-20. Your I-20 will serve as proof of your eligibility to work in the United States for a specific employer and during a specific period of time.


What causes delays or denial of CPT authorization?

  • Your job offer letter does not include all of the required information.
  • You did not completely fill out the ISSS CPT form.
  • Your academic advisor did not complete fill out the advisor section of the ISSS CPT form.
  • You are not enrolled in the required course at the time we process your form.
  • You do not meet the eligibility requirements.


What is the difference between volunteering and an unpaid internship?

Please view our chart for more information.