Office of the University Registrar

November 3, 2020

Introduction to CPT

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary authorization for practical training/work that is integral to your program of study.

‘CPT’ is an immigration term:

  • It’s the U.S. government’s name for training/work experience integral to your program of study.
  • Your academic department may or may not be familiar with the term ‘CPT’.
  • CPT is only for students on F-1 visas.
  • Please have your department contact ISS if they have any questions regarding the process.

CPT is authorized by the ISS office and is required for all off-campus activity, including required practicums, unpaid internship experience, paid internships, etc.

CPT Activity Can Include

  • Employment
  • Internship experience (paid or unpaid)
  • Cooperative (co-op) education experience
  • Practicum participation

Any activity related to your studies is considered “curricular” by the U.S. government and requires CPT authorization. The only type of off-campus activity that does not require CPT authorization is volunteer service for a humanitarian organization that is not related to your studies.

CPT Authorization Can Be

  • Paid or unpaid
  • Part-time (20 hours per week or less)
  • Full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
  • During the regular academic year (you must also register for full-time credits)
  • During your annual vacation quarter
  • During your final quarter (we cannot authorize CPT beyond the last day of your final quarter)


CPT cannot interrupt or delay your academic progress.

As part of maintaining F-1 student status, you should be “making normal progress” and not delaying coursework to pursue multiple full-time internships.

Making normal progress includes, but is not limited to, enrolling in the proper courses required for degree completion, maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and continually meeting all institutional enrollment requirements.

When to Apply

You can apply for part-time or full-time CPT any time of year as long as you:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for CPT
  • Continue to register as a full-time student at UW (unless you qualify for a full-time enrollment exception)
  • Are enrolled in CPT credits
    • ISS authorizes CPT one quarter at a time. If your CPT is expected to extend beyond one quarter, you must apply for authorization each quarter.

First Quarter CPT

It is rare for a new student to do an internship in their first quarter. This is because most CPT is optional but integral, which is difficult to support when a student is brand new to their program.

  • CPT is an application process coordinated between you, your academic department, and ISS. Please check with your department about CPT in your first quarter.
  • To be eligible for CPT, you must have studied one year full-time on your current SEVIS ID.
  • If you have changed degree levels at UW or successfully transferred your SEVIS record from another college in the U.S., ISS might be able to count previous study time towards your one academic year CPT eligibility requirement.
  • ISS will not be able to review and process your CPT application until your immigration record for your new degree program has been registered with the government (which may take several weeks from the first day of the quarter).

Multiple Positions

  • You can apply for more than one CPT authorization at one time; however, you will need to submit a separate CPT application for each position.
  • You can have CPT authorization and an on-campus job simultaneously.