F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

Curricular Practical Training is authorization for employment that is an integral part of the established curriculum of your degree program. CPT is not available to all F-1 students because it is dependent on the academic requirements of your program.

Application Process
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Application Alert

Beginning 9AM Friday, March 10 through 11 AM Monday, March 13, you will not to be able to submit or upload any ISSO applications (including this one) as we conduct our Compass database migration. Do not worry, you will be able to submit applications again starting 12:00 PM Monday, March 13. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

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Before You Apply

Degree Program Criteria

According to F-1 regulations, your program must meet one of the following criteria:

F-1 Student Eligibility

You must be:

CPT can be used only during the academic program

* You can be full-time during the summer vacation period if you will be continuing in the fall. However, you are limited to part-time in the summer if:
1) your program has a required summer term OR
2) you are completing degree requirements in the summer term

† if you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are no longer eligible for post-completion OPT

Elective Course Dates

CPT based on an elective course is authorized for dates within the term.

Changing Employers or Extending CPT Time

You will need to submit a new application if you change employers or need to extend the time.

CPT Effect on OPT

CPT time is not deducted from the amount of OPT allowed after graduation.

When to Apply

Apply at least 10 business days before your requested start date. CPT cannot be authorized retroactively, so plan ahead!

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How to Apply

Before you apply:

1) Register for the course if  this internship is tied to a specific course. Be sure to register for the course before you submit your application to us.

2) If you had CPT authorized the previous semester, check SSOL to make sure the grade has been posted.

CPT Timeline
Step 1.

Submit your forms to the ISSO

Email the forms as a single PDF file to ISSO-opt@columbia.edu for processing.

Exceptions to documentation requirements above :

  1. PhD students in Statistics: who are taking G8520 must obtain approval from the Chairman of the Statistics Department.
  2. JD students: must also include the CPT form completed by the Law School's Registration Services along with its accompanying documents in addition to the two items listed above 2 items listed above.
Step 2.

Pick-Up your CPT authorization

Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. We will notify you by email when your new I-20 with CPT authorization is ready. Check page 2 for the authorization.

Step 3.

Apply for a Social Security Number 

If you do not already have an SSN, you are now eligible to apply for one up to 30 days before your CPT employment start date. 

Step 4.

Start your employment on your CPT start date

Be prepared to show your employer:

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

You may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training.

Unfortunately no. You can apply for CPT only if your academic program meets the criteria.

Eligibility is based solely on the curriculum of a degree program. If your school of enrollment doesn’t have an internship requirement or have an elective course that awards academic credit toward your degree, you are not eligible.

No, you cannot work during a leave of absence. You need to be a currently registered student making normal progress toward your degree to engage in CPT.