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What is CPT? Is it the regular part-time job students take up at..let’s say American Eagle?  Well, unless you are a retail major, working at an American Eagle doesn’t qualify as CPT. And we have heard so many questions like these that it’s about time we clear them once and for all, shall we?

In this blog:

1.     What is CPT?
2.     CPT Rules
3.     Who is eligible for CPT?
4.     CPT Registration
5.     CPT and OPT: Difference

What is CPT?

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training and it is a program in which international students currently with F-1 visa status can gain experience through practical training in internships, co-ops, and part-time or full-time jobs. CPT is semester-oriented and it can be taken up either in fall, spring, or summer. It can begin with one semester and extend for up to 12 months in duration.

As an example, a film major can intern on a movie set and if you are a retail major, you could intern part-time at the mall. As long as the employment or experience gained through CPT is integral to the curriculum of the degree or program you are pursuing.

Unlike OPT Curricular Practical Training or CPT can be only undertaken during the college session that is, before your coursework ends. CPT allows students to pursue an internship during the college session but you have to find an internship first, post which the college will issue you a CPT.

CPT Rules

Before applying for CPT here is a quick checklist of rules that you should be aware of:

  1. CPT requires prior authorization from your university’s International Student Office and notification to USCIS is required.
  2. You must have been enrolled full-time in a university for a minimum of 1 year on valid F-1 status or
  3. You are a graduate student where the program requires you to immediately participate in a CPT.
  4. The CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement of the course for which you receive academic credit.
  5. You must have received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request.
  6. Your job offer must be in your major or field of study.

Who is eligible for CPT?

You are eligible for CPT if you –

  1. You must have completed one full year in school on a valid F1 visa(except those programs that require immediate CPT employment).
  2. Employment must be an integral part of your degree coursework and a requirement to secure academic credit.
  3. You must have received a job offerbefore you submit your CPT request.
  4. The CPT employment offer must be related to your major subjects in your area of study.
Can’t decide between CPT and OPT?

Have you taken the GMAT before?

CPT Registration

Given below are a few steps for CPT registration or to apply for a CPT:

  1. Connect with your Student Advisor to find out about the available CPT programs.
  2. Get an employment offer letter from the company.
  3. Apply to the CPT program through your university and keep the necessary documents ready.
  4. After the approval of your CPT application, you will receive the CPT document with the duration, post which you can begin your CPT program.

The CPT is authorized by the International Student and Scholar (ISSS) through the issue of a new I-20 with CPT recommendation. And is typically processed within 5-7 business days. Employment through CPT is allowed only within the duration specified in the I-20 and the SEVIS.

CPT and OPT: Difference

If you can’t choose between CPT and OPT, we can help. Given below is a list of differences between CPT and OPT:

  1. You must complete a CPT before graduation whereas you can do an OPT during your coursework (pre-completion OPT) or after graduation (post-completion OPT).
  2. CPT requires a job offer OPT does not.
  3. CPT typically requires an internship class and OPT does not.
  4. CPT generally requires payment for tuition and OPT does not.
  5. CPT is for a specific employer, OPT allows you to work for any employer.
  6. CPT permit is part of the I-20, OPT permit is called the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  7. CPT is authorized by the international office, generally in a few business days whereas OPT is authorized by USCIS.

Have more questions about studying and jobs in the USA? Our counsellors are ready with answers. Call us for a free 15 minutes session and we will guide you through!

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