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Degree Program Criteria
Per F-1 regulations, your program must meet one of the following criteria:
F-1 Student Eligibility
You must be:
Before You Apply
CPT can be used only during the academic program.
Part-Time is 20 hours or fewer per week. You are limited to part-time hours during the fall and/or spring term. You are also limited to part-time during the summer if:
- your program has a required summer term OR
- summer is your final term
Full-Time is more than 20 hours per week. You may be full-time during the summer vacation period only if you will be continuing in the fall.
Review the table below for a visual:
CPT is always authorized for dates that are within the semester, whether it is granted for an internship or practicum degree requirement or for an elective internship or practicum course.
Apply at least 10 business days before your requested start date. CPT cannot be authorized retroactively, so plan ahead!
Time authorized for CPT is not deducted from the amount of OPT you are allowed after graduation.
If, however you have been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are no longer eligible for OPT. This is a rare occurrence at Columbia because most students are not eligible for full-time CPT for 12 months.
You will need to submit a new application if you change employers or need to extend the time.
Get a Brief Letter From Your CPT Employer That Includes These Six Requirements
Your CPT application requires a letter from your CPT employer that must include all six of the following elements required by F-1 regulations. A typical offer letter will not suffice. Your CPT request will be denied if your letter is incomplete, and you will have to reapply.
The CPT Employer letter must:
- be on official company letterhead
- have a specific start date and a specific end date
- include the complete US address of your employer even if you are working remotely
- include the number of hours per week you will work
- include a detailed description or list of position duties
- be signed and dated by your employer
Review our sample letter for help, but do not submit it!
Gather Your Documents and Information
We Will Contact You
Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application.
If your request is approved, we will email your new digital Form I-20 with additional instructions.
Review, Sign and Date Your New I-20
Your CPT authorization is on page 2. Use this I-20 for travel. The travel signature on page 2 is valid for 12 months or until your program end date, whichever is earlier.
Keep all previously issued I-20s. You may need them in the future.
After You Have Your CPT I-20
You can't start employment before the CPT start date printed on your I-20.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Unfortunately no. You can apply for CPT only if your academic program meets the criteria.
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.