F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

Degree Program Criteria

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

F-1 Student Eligibility

You must:

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:

    1. your program has a required summer term OR
    2. 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.

    In the final term, CPT must end with the official last day of the Spring or Fall semester. Final summer term CPT end dates may vary, consult your academic advisor and the ISSO.

    You are expected to be attending in-person classes during the required terms in the academic year. If your employer is located elsewhere in the U.S., you may engage in CPT only if it is remote.

    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. 

    If eligible, you will need to submit a new application if you change employers or need to extend the time. If there are any changes to your already approved CPT request, indicate the changes in your new application, (e.g. providing a new end date if shortening or extending within the same semester.) 



    Want to learn more?

    Watch this quick overview of CPT. We’ll also show you how to use this webpage and address our most frequently asked questions.

    CPT Overview and Website Navigator

    Application Process

    Step 1.

    Get a Brief Letter From Your CPT Employer That Includes These Six Requirements

    Your CPT application requires a letter from your U.S. based 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:

    1. be on official company letterhead
    2. have a specific start date and a specific end date
    3. include the U.S. address of your employer.
      The letter should indicate if you are working remotely from your NY-area home.
    4. include the number of hours per week you will work
    5. include a detailed description or list of position duties
    6. be signed and dated by your employer

    Review our sample letter for help, but do not submit it!

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    Step 2.

    Gather Your Documents and Information

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    Step 3.

    Use Compass to Submit Your Application

    Please click the appropriate link below:

    Not sure of your campus? Check our campus school list.
    Need help using Compass? Learn more on our Compass User Guide.

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    Step 4.

    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. 

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    Step 5.

    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 are now eligible to apply for an SSN up to 30 days before your CPT employment start date. Find the application process here.

    You can't start employment before the CPT start date printed on your I-20.

    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.

    You can count only ONE online class toward your minimum number of credits required for your full-time enrollment. For example, you can take one online 3-credit course toward a 12-credit minimum. If you want to take an additional online class for a 15-point course load, it is permitted because it's beyond the minimum required for full-time status. 

    If you only need one course to complete your program of study in your final term, the course cannot be online or distance learning.

    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.