Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

  • CPT must be "an integral part of an established curriculum" and "directly related to the student's major area of study."
  • CPT is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. "
  • Employment for the sole purpose of earning extra money or to gain work experience is not an applicable use of CPT
  • CPT is not required for on-campus (UMass Amherst) employment. Employment at the 5 Colleges is considered on-campus and does not need CPT approval.
  • CPT is not required for employment outside of the U.S., or employment in the U.S. that is not compensated (i.e. volunteer or non-salaried)
  • You must apply for, and be authorized by the IPO for CPT authorization BEFORE you begin working. Failure to be approved for CPT before beginning employment is a violation of F-1 immigration status.

ISS FAQ

Students must meet certain requirements before being eligible for CPT:

  • You are in valid F-1 status
  • You have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year (two semesters)
    • The one academic year requirement may be waived if your degree program requires immediate participation or you have been in certain other immigration statuses
  • The training is "an integral part of an established curriculum"
  • The training is "directly related to the student's major area of study"
  • You will continue to be enrolled full-time during CPT
    • You are NOT eligible for CPT once you have finished all degree requirements and after you have completed your program of study (i.e. no further required course registration, all academic requirements met)
  • CPT will not interfere with your program of study and cause a delay of your completion of studies

If you engage in CPT during a semester, you must maintain your full-time student status/enrollment at UMass by making the necessary arrangements with Career Services (if you are an undergraduate) and your department (all students).

If you currently have CPT and wish to continue the same position without interruption following completion of studies, you must apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) at least 3-months before your completion of studies date. Unlike CPT, OPT applications take approximately 3 to 4-months for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process an OPT application, so plan ahead accordingly.

Important note: Students who utilize a cumulative 12-months of full-time CPT will not be eligible for future post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Any amount of CPT authorized for less than 12-months at the full-time rate will not impact future OPT eligibility and will not be subtracted from your initial 12-months of OPT eligibility.

The CPT application process does not start with the IPO. Prior to beginning your CPT application, you must consult with your academic advisor or your college’s Career Services representative to determine if your proposed training opportunity is integral to your degree and will receive academic credit. You will also need to acquire an approved Handshake contract from the Career Development & Professional Connections Hub. Once these steps are done, you may submit your CPT Request Form for processing by the (IPO). A link to our on-line application process can be found here

Please note: CPT authorization is not automatic and will be denied if the IPO determines that the proposed employment does not meet the specific criteria for CPT outlined above and/or we determine that your proposed training is not an appropriate use of CPT.

  1. After receiving a paid training offer, ensure your job offer letter meets the following requirements:
    1. Job Offer Letter on company letter head (with complete mailing address) which must contain ALL of the following information:
      1. Job title
      2. A brief description of job duties
      3. Number of hours student will work per week
      4. An exact employment start and end date
      5. Location where student will be working
      6. Salary and related compensation
  2. After receiving a paid training offer, consult with your academic advisor or your college’s Career Services office to ensure your proposed training is integral to your degree (see above website based on your college). Acquire the appropriate paperwork and enroll in the appropriate courses. If your proposed training overlaps more than one semester, then you will need to enroll in multiple courses unless part of an approved co-op. (For example, your training occurs in the last 3-weeks of the summer term and all of the fall semester term. You are required to enroll in the appropriate course in the summer and the semester term.)
    1. You must meet one of the following requirements for it to be “integral:”
      1. Training is credit-earning (internship or independent study)
        1. For undergraduate student’s credited internship process, please click here.
          1. Students from College of Engineering, click here.
          2. Students from College of Information & Computer Sciences, click here
      2. Training is part of a Cooperative Education Experience (Co-op approved by Career Services by submitting an online contract with Central Career Services with all of the required forms). For the Co-op process, click here.
      3. Training is formally required for your degree program completion.  An internship, practicum, etc. that is required for degree program completion and enrollment in a course
  3. In conjunction with #2, you are required to complete a Handshake agreement. Consult with the Career Development & Professional Connections Hub at internships [at] umass.edu to complete this step. The IPO does not oversee the Handshake portal and cannot advise on it.
  4. Once you have completed #1, #2, and #3 proceed to the CPT Request Form (allow 5 business days for IPO processing—you may not begin your training opportunity until you have been approved) and upload the following:
    1. Job Offer Letter on company letter head (with complete mailing address) which must contain ALL of the following information:
      1. Job title
      2. A brief description of job duties
      3. Number of hours student will work per week
      4. An exact employment start and end date
      5. Salary and related compensation
    2. Proof of Course Enrollment (this could be the paperwork directly from your academic advisor or a screen shot of your SPIRE enrollment)
      1. You must remain enrolled in this course for the duration of your CPT. Withdrawal may be considered a violation that could jeopardize your immigration status.
      2. Graduate Students: 999 Continuous Enrollment cannot be used for CPT purposes. If you are in a 999 course, you must enroll in a credit-bearing course of at least 1 credit before CPT will be issued.
    3. Your approved Handshake agreement from Career Services

If you are missing any of the items above, your CPT request form will be delayed until the IPO has all of the items on file. You may not begin working prior to CPT approval and issuance of a new CPT I-20 form. The IPO processes CPT requests in the order received and cannot expedite requests as a result of high workload.

Once approved, you will receive a CPT approval e-mail confirmation with instructions for picking up your new CPT I-20 or eShip if you are not currently in Amherst.

Assuming that the proposed training meets the criteria for CPT, the IPO will grant CPT authorization by issuing an updated I-20 form with a specific CPT endorsement for the named employer, for the term dates indicated by the University’s Academic Calendar (unless on an approved Co-op contract). Please note that it will take 5 business days to process your CPT I-20.  

  • Can I work for a company other than my CPT employer/placement or outside of the authorized dates?
    • No. CPT is authorized for a specific employer/placement company and location and is date-specific. Changing your employer, dates, full-time/part-time hours all requires IPO approval. Follow items #1-#3 in the Application Procedures if your employer or hours change. See the next FAQ for date changes.
  • Can I extend my CPT?
    • Yes, but with certain conditions:
      • If you are extending in the same term, please send an updated job offer letter to your IPO advisor and email confirmation from your Academic Advisor. Extension requests take 5 business days to process.
      • If you are extending into a new academic term, you must submit a new CPT Request Form by following steps #1-3 above.
  • I was approved for 20-hours of CPT (part-time), may I work more than 20 hours (full-time)?
    • No. Since you were only approved for part-time CPT, you must gain approval for full-time CPT and resubmit the CPT Request form by following #1-3 of the Application Process.
  • I would like to work full-time for the next two years. Is this possible?
    • Yes—with the following warnings:
      • Regulations state that 12-months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate ALL OPT eligibility. The IPO does not recommend using 12-months or more of full-time CPT.
      • You will need to meet the CPT eligibility requirements and follow the application process for each academic term’s CPT.
  • Does part-time CPT affect my OPT eligibility?
    • No, you are eligible for unlimited part-time CPT as long as you meet the CPT eligibility requirements and follow the application process for each academic term’s CPT.
  • Is there an application fee for CPT?
    • No.
  • Do I need CPT authorization for an unpaid internship or training opportunity outside the U.S.?
    • No. You should however, consult with your Career Services Office to ensure your opportunity is registered with them.
  • I was offered a job at one of the Five Colleges, do I need CPT?
    • No. Employment at the Five Colleges is considered on-campus employment for F-1 students and does not need authorization. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week.
  • Do I need to update my address if I will be living someone else while on CPT?
    • YES!! Update it in SPIRE within 10-days of relocating for your CPT employment (internship, etc.). Failure to do so could be considered a violation of your immigration status.
  • Can I apply for a Social Security Number?
    • Yes. If you have not already obtained an SSN, you will be able to apply using your new CPT I-20 and your offer letter within 30-days of your employment starting date. See SSN instructions here.
  • Do I have to pay taxes while on CPT?
    • Maybe. The IPO cannot advise on taxes so you should consult with your HR’s payroll, the VITA Tax Clinic at Isenberg (February through April), or a tax professional proficient in non-resident tax status questions. We also highly recommend consulting these Internal Revenue Service guidelinesn-resident tax status questions. We also highly recommend consulting these Internal Revenue Service guidelines here and here
  • Can I have CPT if I was at a previous academic level?
    • It depends:
      Students who finished their degree and then begin an new degree program (i.e. bachelor’s to masters) are eligible for CPT. Usage of full time CPT resets at each degree level.
      Students who finished their degree and then were on OPT are not eligible for CPT until after 9 months of enrollment (unless the new degree program requires immediate participation).
      Students who were at a previous institution and/or in another immigration status may be eligible for CPT.
  • How many hours per week can I work while on CPT?
    • CPT combined with other on-campus employment is considered a gray area of the regulations as DHS’ guidance is not clear. The decision to have CPT and on-campus employment is ultimately up to the student. Students should consider their course load with their on-campus work, in addition to their CPT, and personal commitments in deciding to combine CPT with on-campus employment. 
    • Up to 20 hours per week is considered part time; anything more than 20 hours per week is considered full time for CPT purposes.