Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
International students in F-1 status are eligible in some circumstances to obtain employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is defined by US immigration regulations as employment that is an “integral part of an established curriculum.” The regulations further define CPT as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Sponsored employment is structured employment that is monitored by Notre Dame through the student’s academic department.
A particular employment experience is an integral part of a student’s course of study if it meets one of the following conditions:
- The proposed employment is required of all students for the completion of the academic program.
- The proposed employment is required for a particular course within the program of study from which the students can choose. For this condition to apply the course credits must count toward graduation and the course must appear on the student’s transcript for the semester in which the employment occurs. The course must also be listed in the school’s course catalogue with the assigned number of credits and the name of the faculty member teaching the course clearly indicated. There should also be a description of the course that clearly defines the course objectives. This condition may also apply to required thesis, dissertation or other research which corresponds to a course listed in the catalog in which the student must enroll to complete the academic program.
Not every academic program supports CPT. For example, the College of Science does not approve CPT applications for undergraduate students. If CPT is not an option, the student may apply for pre-completion OPT. All students should explore options for work permission at least 3 months in advance of an internship.
Please Note: Beginning January 2016 the College of Engineering will approve undergraduate students for CPT. They will need to register for a related course in the spring semester to be eligible for CPT. Information on the course and course number will be forthcoming. However, students may submit CPT applications for Summer 2016 beginning in January 2016.
To be eligible for employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training, all of the following conditions must be met:
- Employment must be an integral part of the course of study as defined above.
- Student must enroll in a corresponding course during the semester in which the employment for CPT is authorized.
- Employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
- Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year.
- Exceptions exist for graduate students who are required by their academic programs to participate in internships prior to be being enrolled for a full academic year. This currently applies only to ACE and E&Y students, though ISSA may verify this requirement for other academic programs when required.
- Students previously enrolled in another immigration status may count lawful full-time enrollment toward this requirement. For example, a student enrolled for one academic year in H-4 status who changes immigration status to F-1 would meet this eligibility requirement immediately and would not be required to wait an additional academic year.
- Student must be maintaining lawful F-1 status.
- Student must maintain a full course of study as otherwise required during CPT.
- Participation in CPT must not delay completion of the academic program.
- CPT is employer-specific; student must have a written offer of employment prior to application.
- No aggregate limit on CPT is established by regulations, but CPT authorization may affect eligibility for OPT.
- Students may be authorized for part-time or full-time employment depending on the situation:
- Part-time CPT is defined as employment for 20 hours per week or less and may be authorized during any term. Students must maintain a full course of study during the academic year. Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
- Full-time CPT is defined as employment for more than 20 hours per week. Full-time CPT may be authorized during the fall and spring semesters only if it is required for completion of the academic program. Authorization for 12 months or more full-time CPT makes student ineligible for OPT at the same academic level.
- CPT authorized for an off-campus employer does not affect eligibility for regular on-campus student employment.
- A new CPT endorsement is required for the student to begin work with a different employer, in a new position or for a different number of hours per week.
- CPT employment may not be authorized or continue after the completion of all required coursework.
- Exceptions exist for graduate students who require CPT to complete thesis or dissertation research.
- CPT employment may not be authorized or continue after the student has completed the degree requirements of the academic program.
To apply for employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training, students should complete the following steps:
- Attend a CPT Information Session presented by the Notre Dame ISSA within the current academic year.
- ISSA offers CPT Information Sessions periodically throughout the year. Scheduled sessions are announced in the ISSA weekly email to international students and posted on the Events page. CPT application packets are distributed only to students who attend a CPT information session or who complete an individual information session with an ISSA advisor.
- View the CPT Application Checklist (192 KB PDF).
- Complete and submit a CPT Application in ISSAlink. This includes uploading a copy of your employment offer letter.
- Ensure your academic advisor completes and submits the CPT Advisor Recommendation that will be emailed from ISSA.
- There is no application fee for CPT; however, please note that regular tuition rates apply for the associated courses.
- Current ISSA processing time is 2 to 5 work days.
- Documentation of employment authorization is in the form of an endorsement on page two of the student’s I-20 form.
- Students must continue to enroll in a full course of study during the academic year while authorized for employment for CPT.
- Employment off campus may not begin until student receives an I-20 from ISSA that contains an endorsement for CPT and the start date has passed.
- A letter, signature or verbal approval from another campus office—such as the Career Center or an academic department or advisor—DOES NOT constitute employment authorization for immigration purposes.