Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Tutorial

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.


CPT Eligibility

  • 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. 
  • 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
  • Are making normal progress toward degree completion


Authorized Period

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


Semester  Duration  Application Period
Fall 2019   Aug 19, 2019-Dec 18, 2019 July 1, 2019-Oct 10, 2019
Spring 2020 Dec 19, 2019-May 20, 2020 Dec 2, 2019-March 13, 2020
Summer 2020 May 21, 2020-Aug 18, 2020 April 15, 2020-July 1, 2020


CPT Application Process

  1. Review CPT tutorial.
  2. 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.
  3. Secure a job offer. 
  4. 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.
  5. Enroll in the class
  6. Submit the completed ISSS CPT application form and a copy of your offer letter to ISSS. You must be enrolled in your internship class before coming to our office. 
  7. We will email you within 7 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. If you do not have a social security number (SSN), please ask our office for an SSN support letter when you pick-up your I-20. 


Offer Letter

Your CPT request will be either Delayed or Denied if your offer letter does not contain all of the following items:

  • Must be printed on company's letterhead
  • Must be dated within the last 3 months
  • Include job title
  • Include job description
  • Include employment start and end date
  • Include physical address where you will work (street number and name, city, state postal code, and suite/building number)
  • Include number of hours per week
  • **If you are working remotely, then this should be indicated on your offer letter, including the address where you will be working. In most cases, the offer will indicate the student's home address. 


Part-Time Vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-Time CPT

During Fall and Spring semesters, students can work up to 20 hours per week
Full-Time CPT


Full-Time CPT

During Summer semester, students can work full-time (20 hours per week or more)
If you are graduating in the summer, you must be enrolled in at least one course that is required for your degree program.



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 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. 



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.



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 7 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.


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.