Practical Training for F-1 Students

If you're an F-1 student in the US, you can gain valuable work experience while studying or after completing your program through practical training. There are two types: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is work related to your major and a required part of your program. 

Here's what you need to know:

If you're a graduate student, your school can approve CPT in your first semester if your program needs it.

Your school will give you a new Form I-20 to show you're allowed to work.

CPT can be full-time or part-time.

You need a signed agreement or letter from your employer.

If you do full-time CPT for a year or more, you can't do OPT afterward, but part-time CPT is fine.

CPT Requirements

Before starting CPT, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must be an F-1 student at a certified school for at least a year, except for some graduate programs.
  • Your main area of study can be anything except English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • You can't use CPT for minor studies or general graduation requirements.


Your Designated School Official (DSO) will authorize CPT in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You don't need extra approval from immigration. CPT is for specific jobs in the US, so you must secure a job offer first. You can have multiple CPT authorizations, but each job and employer need separate approval.

Overview of the CPT Process

Here's how it works:

Follow your school's CPT request process.

The DSO checks if you're eligible.

If eligible, your DSO approves your job in SEVIS and issues a new Form I-20.

You can start working on or after the listed start date.

Make sure to finish by the end date.

CPT is a great way to gain work experience while you study in the United States, understand your subjects better, and build a job portfolio for the future.

Contact Us

Have any questions? Reach out to us from our contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

401 15th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

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