University of Massachusetts Amherst

F1 CPT: Undergraduate

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as work experience which 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 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 making the necessary arrangements with the Registrar's Office and/or Internship/Co-op Office.

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 make 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. If this is your case, you must instead apply for Optional Practical Training. It can take up to 2 months for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to process an OPT application, so be sure to make plans in advance. 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 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 a foreign student advisor:

  1. A job offer letter on company letter head which must contain ALL of the following information:
    • Your job title
    • Number of hours student will work each week
    • A brief description of your job duties
    • 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. CPT Recommendation form
    for undergraduates: Your academic advisor, or an advisor from the Campus Career Network, must check the appropriate box and sign the attached CPT recommendation form.

Assuming that the proposed training meets the criteria, permission will be granted by an advisor who will make a notation on the Form I-20.

*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.