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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows eligible F-1 students gain practical work experience through jobs, internships or co-ops as part of their program of study.

Curricular Practical Training Overview

Immigration regulations define Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as a “training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum” and may include “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” CPT is typically used by students to obtain work authorization for internships or other practical training-based learning opportunities prior to graduation.  CPT experiences can be paid or unpaid, and must be related to a student’s major.

CPT may be authorized for the following types of experiential learning:

  1. Training that is required for all students in the program (e.g., an internship or practicum requirement)

  2. Training that is not required for the major or degree, but available for students in the major or degree (e.g., an internship elective) - registration for appropriate internship or practicum credit is required to be eligible for CPT

  3. Training that is integral to the completion of a department-approved thesis, capstone, or dissertation topic.  This typically occurs when training is needed to accomplish something that cannot be accomplished on Lehigh's campus.

Section 1

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for CPT, students:

  • Must be in F-1 status and have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (two semesters or 30 weeks of instructional time)

  • Must be enrolled in a degree program and must have declared a major. Undeclared students are not eligible to apply for CPT, nor are students in English Language Training programs.

  • Must be enrolled in the appropriate course concurrently with CPT authorization. CPT authorization will be terminated if the student withdraws from the associated course.

  • Must be in good academic standing and making normal academic progress towards degree completion

  • Must secure an internship/training experience directly related to the student’s major field of study. Regulations do not allow CPT authorization on the basis of a minor.

  • Should consult with their academic advisor/Associate Dean prior to securing an internship to determine if CPT is an option that is available to them. Not every major or degree will have internship or practicum course options available. Some Colleges may have a college-level internship course available. Students who do not have the option for a major- or degree-specific internship or practicum course will not be eligible for CPT. Students ineligible for CPT may be able to apply for pre-completion OPT.

Section 2

CPT-related details

  • Students cannot begin employment until CPT is authorized by OISS and they have received an updated I-20 with the CPT authorization on P. 2.

  • Students must meet registration requirements for the internship or practicum course. For example, in the College of Business, the student must have a declared major and junior standing to register for a 300-level internship course in their major. Questions about registration requirements should be directed to your College/Department.

  • During the academic year (fall and spring), only part-time CPT can be authorized unless the internship course requires participation in a full-time internship/practicum. Immigration regulations define part-time employment as employment that does not exceed 20 hours per week. Each College/academic program may have a specific definition of full-time employment.

  • We encourage students to apply for CPT for any internship or experiential learning experience that they are receiving academic credit for, even if unpaid. Paid experiences always require employment authorization.

  • Because CPT authorization is directly connected to enrollment in a specific course, CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. OISS will not authorize CPT until the student is enrolled in the course that is the basis for the CPT authorization. Any practical training experience that extends into the next semester will require a new CPT request, authorization and appropriate course enrollment.

  • Students who wish to begin/add an internship and be approved for CPT after the 10th day of class must follow the University process to request that the internship course be added late (via SOS (for Undergrads) or SOGS (for grad students) petition). CPT cannot be approved until a student receives the late add approval and the course is added to the student’s schedule.

  • There is no regulatory limit on the amount of part-time CPT that a student can be approved for. One year of full-time CPT in each degree level will eliminate a student’s eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Section 3

CPT Application Process

Students applying for CPT must do the following:

  1. Before securing an internship, meet with your academic advisor/Associate Dean to determine if CPT is available in your major and which course you should register in.

  2. Secure an internship. Request an offer letter on company letterhead that provides the following information

    • Name of the company

    • Address where the internship will take place.  If work will be done remotely, this information should be included in the letter along with the address of the company's physical location

    • Supervisor name and contact information

    • Description of internship/job duties

    • Start and end dates of the internship.  OISS cannot authorize CPT for open-ended employment

    • Number of hours to be worked per week and salary information (if paid)

  3. Meet with the academic advisor/appropriate College representative and register for the appropriate internship credit

  4. Log into iHome and complete the CPT Request e-form (in the F-1 Student Services section). This will be routed to the student’s academic advisor/appropriate College representative for their approval. Once this e-form is complete and approved by the advisor, OISS will review within 10 business days.

  5. If the student’s e-form and course registration is complete, OISS will authorize CPT and send the student an updated I-20 via e-mail. If OISS has questions about the CPT request, we will contact the student via e-mail. No appointment is needed for CPT requests. If an appointment is needed, an OISS advisor will e-mail the student with scheduling instructions.