UCI International Center

Curricular Practical Training

Section 1

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum for a program of study for F-1 students. Review all of the information below to understand how to request this type of off-campus work authorization.

Types of CPT

Degree Requirement

A degree program that requires completion of an internship or work experience to complete degree requirements. This requirement must be in the UCI catalog as a degree requirement.

Course Credit

A course that requires completion of an internship or work experience in order to complete course requirements. Internships must be concurrent with course enrollment.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-Time CPT

During the quarter all students are required to work part-time while on CPT. Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. Filing Fee Status (for graduate students) does not allow participation in CPT.

Full-Time CPT

During the vacation periods (Winter, Spring, Summer break) F-1 students may choose to work full-time.Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. If you participate in a total of 12 months of full-time CPT during your academic program, you will not be eligible for OPT. Please note that part-time CPT does not count towards your 12 months of full-time CPT.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Currently have F-1 immigration status
  • You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year (3 consecutive quarters)
    • You also must be enrolled full time during the academic year, or have Reduced Course Load approval (Graduate Students: you may not do CPT during a Filing Fee Quarter).
  • Have a job offer related to your field of study/major
  • Enroll in a course during the quarter you plan to participate in CPT (if required for a course requirement)
  • Obtain CPT authorization BEFORE beginning your employment; authorization cannot be backdated.

Step 1: Determining When to Apply for CPT

  • CPT must begin on or after “quarter start date” and must end on or before the “quarter end date”.
  • Review Processing Times and submit your application early.
  • Summer CPT: If you will work in an internship that requires 12-week participation, you must enroll in Summer Session I & II and list the dates of your participation on the CPT application form.
  • If you are extending your current CPT employment authorization into winter/spring/summer break and the following quarter, you will need to:
    • Enroll for the following quarter, including in a CPT eligible course
    • Follow the information in ‘Step 3: Prepare Your Application’ and submit for review by the International Center.

Step 2: Review the CPT Presentation

  • This CPT presentation reviews important information regarding the planning and application materials that are necessary to apply for CPT.

Step 3: Connect with your Academic Department

  • Speak with your academic counselor/advisor to select the appropriate course to participate in CPT (if applicable).

Step 4: Prepare Your Application

  • Prepare the following three documents: 
    • Complete the CPT Application Form
      • Proof of course enrollment for the quarter you plan to participate in CPT or; proof of degree requirement (from UCI catalogue)
    • A CPT Letter must include:
      • Company’s Letterhead
      • Addressed to You
      • Job Title/Position
      • Description of Job Duties
      • Address of Employer, and Worksite Location (if different)
      • Specify if Work is Part-Time/Full-Time
      • Specify the EXACT Start and End Date of Employment
      • Employer’s Signature

Step 5: Submitting Your CPT Application

  • Go to the CPT Application on our website
    • You will need to login with your UCnetID
  • Follow the steps as listed on the CPT Presentation to complete the application
    • You will need to fill out the CPT Information Form and upload your CPT application form, proof of enrollment, and CPT letter.
    • If your application is incomplete or the incorrect your application will need to be re-submitted with updated information for processing.
  • After completing this process, you will receive a confirmation email. Keep this for your records.

Step 6: Receiving Your CPT I-20

  • The successful submission of your application will result in a new I-20. I-20 visa documents will be sent electronically via an email from DocuSign. This I-20 will show your CPT information listed on page 2.

CPT and Unpaid Internships

There is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship. Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without compensation. If you plan to participate in an unpaid internship, and gain work experience directly related to your field of study/major you will still need to apply for CPT.