University of Massachusetts Amherst

F1 CPT: Graduate

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as work experience that is directly related to your academic program and which will form an integral part of that program. The employment must be instrumental to achieving a specific academic objective. You must apply for this permission BEFORE you begin working!

Eligibility

To be eligible for CPT, you must first complete two full semesters in F-1 status (unless your degree requires that you begin an immediate internship/practicum) and be in good academic standing making satisfactory progress towards your degree. CPT may be undertaken during vacation periods or during the academic semester, either full or part-time. If you engage in full-time CPT during a semester, you must maintain your student status at the University by paying PROGRAM FEE.

Students who do 12 months or more of full-time CPT are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). For example, you may do 13 months of part-time CPT and still be eligible for a full 12 months of OPT. On the other hand, 13 months of full-time CPT authorization would deem you ineligible for Optional Practical Training. In general, short-term training programs such as summer internships are more easily justified than longer-term appointments, such as a 12-month position.

Because CPT must be an integral part of your academic program, you will not be eligible for CPT once you have completed all degree requirements or if you are about to defend (or have already defended) your thesis/dissertation. In addition, it is rare that we will approve CPT for someone in the final semester of his/her SOL. If this is your case, you must instead apply for Optional Practical Training. Be sure to plan ahead, since the Immigration Service can take up to 2 months to process OPT applications.

CPT may only be authorized if it will not interfere with your academic progress. For that reason, it cannot be conducted if it would cause a delay in your graduation date.

Once you graduate, any CPT period authorized will automatically expire. If you want to continue at the same job following graduation without interruption, make sure you apply for OPT 2-3 months before your graduation date.

Application Procedure

The application process for CPT is relatively simple since it is processed by the International Programs Office and does not require USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) approval. Please note, however, that authorization is not automatic and will be denied if the international student advisor determines that the proposed employment does not meet the criteria for CPT.
To apply for CPT, present the following documents to an international student advisor:

  1. A job offer letter on company letter head which must contain ALL of the following information:
    • Your job title
    • A brief description of your job duties
    • Number of hours student will work each week
    • An exact start and end date
    • Specific mention that "The position offered is temporary in nature and is not intended to lead to permanent employment with our company"
  2. Departmental CPT Recommendation form.
    Your academic advisor must check the appropriate box and sign the CPT form. In addition, the advisor must explain in detail how this training will form an integral part of your academic program in a separate memo.

Assuming that the training meets the criteria, an IPO advisor who will make a notation on the Form I-20 will grant permission.

*Students on CPT are required (through the employer) to complete a Form I-9 for IRS. If the student has been in the US for five or fewer years, CPT is usually exempt from FICA (Social Security) taxes for both the student and employer. IRS publication 515 provides further information on taxation.�