Curricular Practical Training

What is Curricular Practical Training?
The Immigration Service defines "curricular practical training" as employment which is an integral or important part of your curriculum, including: "...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." At the Sacred Heart University, the terms “co-op”, “internship”, and “field experience” are used to describe opportunities for Curricular Practical Training.
What Jobs Qualify?
To be considered Curricular Practical Training, the work must be related to your current major field of study AND must also be an integral or important part of your studies. Your academic department must determine if the job qualifies for Curricular Practical Training.
A. Employment which is required by your degree program always meets the requirements for Curricular Practical Training, regardless of whether or not you receive academic credit for your work.
B. Employment which is not required by your degree program may meet the requirements for Curricular Practical Training if you receive academic credit for the employment experience and if it is an important part of your studies.
Optional Practical Training may be used for work experience that is optional and not for credit, or for work that is requested prior to you meeting your academic department’s eligibility for Curricular Practical Training. See the handout on F-1 Optional Practical Training for more information.
How do I Qualify?
Employment Which Is a Required Part of Your Degree Program.
(1) you are a graduate student, and
(2) you are maintaining lawful F-1 status, and
(3) the proposed employment is a required part of your studies, and
(4) you meet all academic criteria set by your academic department,
you may apply for permission to engage in Curricular Practical Training whenever your program requires your participation, even if it is immediately upon beginning your studies. Undergraduate students must have completed two semesters of full-time study in order to be eligible for any form of Curricular Practical Training.
Employment Which Is Not a Required Part of Your Degree Program. In order to be eligible to apply for permission to work in a job which is not a required part of your study program, you must:
(1) be in lawful F-1 status and
(2) have been a full-time F-1 student for at least one full academic year and
(3) meet all academic criteria set by your academic department.
English Language Students. Students enrolled in SHU’s English Language Institute are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training.
When May I Start Work?
You must not start work until you receive a new I-20 form with specific written permission for Curricular Practical Training on page 3. Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 student status. You should consult with the Student Life Office before taking up any employment. The Student Life Office will advise you regarding your responsibilities; however, it is your responsibility to comply with all Immigration regulations that apply to F-1 students.
How Many Hours per Week May I Work?
Your academic department must approve your request for Curricular Practical Training including how many hours per week you are approved for work.
Part-Time Training. Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are also enrolled full time is considered "part time" Curricular Practical Training. The employment authorization written on the back of your Form I-20 will specify permission to engage in "part time" training and you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limit on the number of semesters that you may participate in part-time Curricular Practical Training, but you must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Full-Time Training. Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered "full time" Curricular Practical Training and the employment authorization on your Form I-20 will specify permission to participate in "full time" training. There is no limit on the number of semesters that you may participate in full time Curricular Practical Training, but if you participate for twelve months or more, you will not be eligible for
Optional Practical Training (see next paragraph).
How Long May I Participate In CPT?
Your academic department may have limits on the number of credits of Curricular Practical Training that you may register for. Each academic department, not the International/Multicultural Center, makes this decision. However, if you participate in twelve months or more of "full time" Curricular Practical Training, you lose eligibility to apply for twelve months of Optional Practical Training. Participation in "part time" Curricular Practical Training does not effect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training.
Application and Authorization Procedures
Bring the following to the Student Life Office:
  • your original I-20 form
  • a letter from your prospective employer which describes the position
  • a recommendation from your academic advisor
  •  proof that you have registered for Co-op, Internship, or Field Experience
You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted an extension of your permission to work.
What Paperwork do I Need to do When I Start Work?
When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled "Employment Eligibility Verification" (INS Form I-9), which the employer retains. The I-9 must be updated each time you receive a renewal of you work permission. Your I-20 will have a specific employment authorization on page 3.
Do I Pay Social Security and Other Taxes?
In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five years are exempt from Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes. See IRS Publication 519, US Tax Guide for Aliens, for detailed information. This publication is available on-line at Your earnings are subject to applicable federal, state and local income taxes. A tax return is due on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of these taxes may be refunded.