Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (F-1)
If your program requires a practicum for degree completion or, if you are enrolled in a class for academic credit that requires internship hours, you may qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. Regulations require the CPT activity be integral to your program of study and directly related to your major field of studies. An internship or practicum placement specifically required to complete a minor may qualify for CPT only if it is directly related to your major field of study.
CPT authorization is required for any curricular placement or for-credit internship, whether paid or unpaid, including:
- An internship or practicum that is required for degree completion.
- An internship required for a course offered in the BU course catalog for which a student will earn academic credit.
- An off-campus placement arranged by BU to pursue graduate thesis or dissertation research that cannot be accomplished on campus that is required to complete your degree program.
If the Internship Is Not Required
An internship must meet an academic (or “curricular”) requirement to qualify for CPT authorization.
If you have an internship or employment opportunity that offers “excellent” or “relevant” experience to your major field of study but is not required for your program as defined above, you will need to apply for and be approved for Optional Practical Training in order to accept that position.
If your internship qualifies for CPT, you will become eligible to apply after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in a degree program for one full academic year (excluding time spent in an intensive English program) and are currently in F-1 status.
Exception: Graduate students in F-1 status are exempt from the one full academic year requirement only if their graduate program requires immediate participation in an internship.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you fall out of legal F-1 status and then regain status by reentering the U.S. with a Form I-20 issued for “Initial Attendance,” your eligibility clock starts over at the time you reenter and start your new F-1 status. This means that after your return to the U.S. with a new I-20, you will have to finish one full year (two semesters) of study before you become eligible for CPT. Any time previously spent in F-1 status will not count toward eligibility.
An application to change immigration status to the F-1 classification from within the U.S. may also affect eligibility for CPT. Students should discuss eligibility with an ISSO advisor if considering CPT within the first two full semesters after changing to F-1.
F-1 students enrolled for study at the Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) are NOT eligible for CPT.
Part-Time or Full-Time CPT
CPT can be authorized during an academic semester or during the summer but must be specified as either part-time or full-time.
There is no regulatory limit to CPT. The overall amount of CPT that will be authorized is defined by what is required or permitted under your degree program. However, if you are authorized for a total of 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training. Periods of part-time CPT authorization do not affect OPT eligibility.
Part-Time CPT Authorization
If your internship or curricular placement requires 20 hours (or fewer) of work per week, you will be authorized for part-time CPT. You must maintain a full-time credit load if you engage in part-time CPT during the Fall or Spring Semester.
Full-Time CPT Authorization
If your internship or curricular placement requires more than 20 hours of work per week, you will need full-time CPT authorization. If you are engaged in full-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester, you may qualify to be registered as a “certified full-time” student by your academic department at BU.
Begin Your Request for CPT Authorization
In order to request CPT authorization, you will need to:
- Check with your academic advisor to make sure the curriculum for your program of study requires or includes academic internships.
- Secure an official job offer or placement for the internship or practicum.
- Register for the relevant internship course in the same semester that you will participate in the experience.
- Log into the ISSOPortal. Go to the Request Center and initiate a CPT – Add New request through the system.
- Follow the instructions in the request to complete the questionnaire, upload required documents and confirm your understanding of conditions to maintain status.
- You will be asked for the name and email of the BU staff or faculty member authorized to review and approve your request. Check with your department if you are unsure who should approve this request. The system will automatically send an email to that approver for academic review.
- Once the approver has completed and approved the request, the request will officially be submitted to ISSO for review and processing.
- Monitor the status of your request through the Request Center in the ISSOPortal.
- Your ISSO Advisor will review your request and update the ISSOPortal within 10 business days. You will receive an email to notify you of the CPT approval, to seek clarification/additional documentation or of a denial.
- If approved, your new I-20 with the CPT authorization will be uploaded to the ISSOPortal. You can download and print the new I-20 from the Document Center in the ISSOPortal.
When to Apply
You cannot begin your internship or your placement until AFTER you have received your new I-20 with your CPT authorization. You should always plan to request CPT authorization at least a few weeks before you wish to begin your internship. CPT is authorized by your ISSO Advisor for a specific employer, location, hours and dates. If there is a change of employer, job location, or dates of employment, you must reapply for CPT. Working or participating in your internship or placement before you receive your official CPT authorization or outside of the specific CPT approval dates on your new I-20 is a serious violation of F-1 status that will require immediate termination of your F-1 SEVIS record and of your F-1 student status.
After CPT Authorization
Once you have been granted CPT authorization for a specific placement, make certain to read our FAQs for CPT, which answers many frequently asked questions related to the limits of CPT authorization, fair labor standards for unpaid internships, and rules for employment verification and taxation for paid placements.
If you are participating in an internship or placement that is required for your degree program or required for credit, then CPT authorization is required. CPT is required whether or not you will be paid for the placement.
If you wish to volunteer for an organization in a role that is not a curricular requirement and not paid, volunteering without ISSO authorization may be permissible in limited circumstances. Check with an ISSO advisor ahead of time to make sure.