Employment

F-1 Students

Curricular Practical Training

If you are an F-1 student and have an employment opportunity that will give you practical experience in your field of study before you graduate, such as an internship, you may be eligible for a type of work authorization called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

CPT work must be an integral part of your curriculum. It must fulfill a requirement for a course you are registered in, such as a required practicum or an internship credit, or help you with research, such as a thesis or dissertation. You will be required to enroll in a corresponding course during the period of time that you will work, or in the term immediately following the work.

You must have authorization from the Office of International Services (OIS) before you start working. Working without proper authorization is a violation of your legal status that will require the termination of your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.

Am I Eligible for Curricular Practical Training Authorization?

To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are a full-time student for at least one full academic year.
  • You have F-1 status.
  • You have a letter from your prospective employer for work in your major field of study.
  • You have registered for an appropriate course that covers the duration of the employment that you seek. Which course you are required to register for depends on what CPT option you pursue.

Work that qualifies for CPT must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The work fulfills an optional or required internship or practicum in your academic program. Registration in an internship or practicum course is required.
  • The work fulfills the course requirements of a standard course or independent study course in your academic program. Registration in the standard course or independent study course is required.
  • Graduate students only: The work benefits your thesis/dissertation/final project in a material and substantial way. Registration for thesis/dissertation/final project credit(s) is required.
  • Ph.D. students only: The work enables you to fulfill a specific deficit in your overall program or provides you an opportunity to have an experience that is an integral part of the Ph.D. program that is otherwise not available to you. Registration in dissertation research or G901 credit(s) is required.
How Do I Get Authorization for Curricular Practical Training?

To apply for CPT authorization, all students except PD, AD, and MM music students must complete the following steps:

  • Contact Your Academic Advisor in Your Department

    In order to be granted work authorization, your advisor must certify that you will register in an appropriate course/independent study, internship credit(s), or dissertation credit(s). Speak with your academic advisor to determine your options for a CPT-appropriate course. If your advisor has questions, please have him or her contact OIS for assistance.

    Additionally, OIS must receive confirmation from your academic advisor through the e-form process that indicates the course in which you are registered so that OIS can process your CPT request. Your academic advisor will be asked to provide information about how the work that you plan to do will be integral to your curriculum and fulfill requirements of your program of study.

  • Get a Job Offer Letter

    You must provide OIS with an offer letter from your prospective employer. This letter should be on company letterhead. Please share a copy of the offer letter with your academic advisor. Please circle the following before submitting:

    • The specific start date and specific end date for employment
    • The number of hours you will work per week. It will not be sufficient for the letter to state "part time" or "full time." The number of hours per week must be provided.
    • The physical location (street address, city, state, and ZIP code) where the job will be conducted. P.O. boxes are not accepted for this requirement.
    • A description, as detailed as possible, of the job duties entailed in your work
  • Register for the Appropriate Course

    Students must register for a CPT-appropriate course for each semester or summer session for which they seek authorization. CPT authorization cannot be based upon "incompletes" or other registrations from previous semesters.

    If you seek work authorization for the summer, you must be enrolled in a CPT-appropriate course.  If your proposed CPT end date ends on or before the last day of the final summer term, you may enroll in a summer CPT-appropriate course that ends on the last day of the final summer term (end of the third 4 weeks, end of the second 6 weeks, end of the second 8 weeks, end of the 12 weeks).  If your proposed CPT end date extends beyond the last day of the final summer term, you must enroll in a CPT-appropriate course in the fall semester.

  • Submit Your Completed CPT Application to OIS through iStart

    Your completed application for CPT must be submitted to OIS in iStart at least two weeks before the employment is expected to begin. Please apply earlier when the university will be closed for the winter break or at the beginning and end of a semester, as those are particularly busy times in the office. Failure to do so can result in delays in processing, during which time you are not eligible to begin work.

To apply for CPT authorization, PD, AD, and MM music students must complete the following steps:

  1. Submit the e-form for CPT through iStart.
  2. Register for a performance course for the semester or summer session in which you would like to work.
  3. For PD, AD, and MM students who wish to have CPT authorization for specific gigs or appointments, a job offer letter will be required. However, for students who wish to apply for CPT based on various regional performances, gigs, and lessons (which are not regular or steady employment opportunities), no job offer letter is required.

CPT authorization is granted on a semester-by-semester basis only. If you wish to continue your employment beyond the semester for which you've been authorized, you must follow the entire application process again, including the appropriate course registration for the option that you choose. It's best to do this as soon as you register for the next semester so that our office will have the time to process your application.

What are the rules i must follow to stay legally employed?

OIS enforces the following policies regarding CPT:

  • You may not use incompletes or deferred grades from a previous semester for CPT authorization.
  • You may not use CPT for a specific independent study course for more than two terms. Further independent study work must have a different course number and different academic requirements.
  • You must enroll in each semester during which you are pursuing CPT.

Withdrawing from classes or dropping credits that are tied to CPT work authorization immediately cancels the CPT authorization. Work done without this authorization is illegal and a violation of status that will result in termination of your SEVIS record.

If you are authorized for part-time CPT, you may work no more than 20 hours per week for all jobs. You must enroll as a full-time student for the duration of the CPT. For part-time CPT, remember that each job that is not at IU will require its own CPT authorization.

If you are authorized for full-time CPT, you may work 21 or more hours per week. Your enrollment in CPT-qualified credits will be considered full time.

CPT authorization results in the issuance of a new page 3 of your I-20. Please staple this new page 3 to your current Continued Attendance I-20. This page will have a travel signature that will be valid for entry into the United States for one year, provided that you remain enrolled full time at IU, your I-20 itself has not expired, and your major has not changed.

Frequently Asked Questions

We're here to help. Click on any question below to view the answer.  

  • I already have authorization for an on-campus job in my field of study. Can I accept an additional position in my field of study?

    If you hold a current position on campus (hourly or as a graduate research assistant, etc.) and you wish to accept additional employment, please keep in mind that you are only eligible for a total of 20 hours per week for all jobs.

    If you wish to work more than 20 hours per week, you must apply for CPT authorization for each job, including your assistantship or hourly position. If you have an assistantship, check with your department to find out how many additional hours you are allowed to work.

    A complete, separate application must be submitted for each job through iStart. Visit iStart »

  • How will my CPT affect my Optional Practical Training eligibility upon graduation?

    You may use an unlimited amount of part-time CPT and still get 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion of studies.

    However, if you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will no longer be eligible for OPT once you graduate. Even if you forfeit your opportunity for OPT by using more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you will be permitted to use no more than two years of full-time CPT.

    If you plan to forfeit your opportunity for OPT by using more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you should call 812-855-9086 to make an appointment with an international student advisor to discuss it in advance.

    Learn more about OPT »

  • Do I need to get authorization for unpaid work opportunities in my field of study?

    If you have found an internship or other work opportunity that is unpaid, we strongly recommend that you apply for CPT authorization prior to beginning that volunteer opportunity. If you are offered compensation for your experience, you will only be able to accept it if you have CPT authorization.

    You must be careful not to "volunteer" without pay in positions that U.S. citizens would be paid for. This rule is designed to protect you, the employer, and other workers. The U.S. Department of Labor provides information on the Fair Labor Standards Act on its website. Visit the Department of Labor »

  • How will I be taxed for my CPT?

    Social Security (FICA) should not be withheld from the wages of an F-1 student on CPT if the student is classified as a nonresident for tax purposes. Earnings are, however, still subject to federal, state, and local taxes. Learn more about taxes »