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CPT FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment authorization for F-1 students. It is an opportunity to participate in a paid position off-campus in your field of study during the time that you are pursuing your degree. Review all steps below to understand how to request CPT and how it may affect your status.

 

STEP 1: LEARN ABOUT CPT

  • CPT is required for:
    • Paid, off-campus positions.
    • These positions must be an integral part of the established curriculum for your program of study.
  • CPT is not required for:
    • Unpaid internships.
    • Volunteer positions.
    • Paid and unpaid on-campus positions.
  • Summer CPT: 
    • Request or be enrolled in the following Fall quarter to be eligible for the Summer Cooperative Education Program.
    • Students in the Master’s programs in CSE, ECE and Rady are exempt from this requirement because their departments verify eligibility for enrollment directly with ISPO.
  • Part-time CPT: participation does not affect eligibility for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization.
  • Full-time CPT: participation for one year or more will cause you to not be eligible for OPT. If you want to apply for OPT after graduating from UC San Diego, then you will need to keep track of your time to assure you do not go over 365 days of full-time CPT.
  • CPT approval: CPT needs to be approved through iPortal by your academic department and by ISPO, and takes 10 business days (2 weeks) to process.
  • If you have questions about CPT, email iemployment@ucsd.edu or join our Zoom Advising.

STEP 2: CONFIRM ELIGIBILITY

In order to be eligible for CPT, you must fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. Meet the One Academic Year Requirement: You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year (3 quarters) on the same SEVIS number. This is known as the one academic year requirement for practical training. In addition to enrolling on one academic year, the following describe other potential ways students accrue time towards the one academic year requirement:
    • SEVIS Transfer - You recently transferred your SEVIS Record to UC San Diego.
      You may use time spent in another SEVIS approved university or college if you were enrolled full time and did a timely SEVIS transfer using the same SEVIS record. If you would like to request CPT during your first year at UC San Diego, we will need proof of your full-time enrollment from your previous institution such as a transcript as well as a copy of your I-20. Note that time spent enrolled in language training does not count towards the One Academic Year Requirement.

    • Change of Status - You were approved for a change of non-immigrant status to F-1.
      You may use time spent in another non-immigrant status (e.g., E-2, H-4, L-2) if you were enrolled full time at a SEVIS approved university or college for one academic year. You can use your Form I-94 and academic history to show full-time enrollment spent in a different non-immigrant status.

    • Change of Academic Level - You are starting a new program here at UC San Diego. A common example is a student who completed their undergraduate program at UC San Diego and will begin a graduate program on the same SEVIS record.
      You may use time spent at a lower degree level towards the one academic year requirement if you were approved for a change of level with the same SEVIS record.

    • Note: Students enrolled part-time during their program of study (less than 12 units) are still considered full-time and may count the period of under-enrollment towards eligibility for the One Academic Year Requirement only if they are authorized for a Reduced Course Load.

  2. Hold a valid passport: Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the requested date of the CPT.
  3. Hold a valid Form I-20: Your I-20 should have a completion date beyond your requested CPT end date.
  4. Continuing Student: You must be currently pursuing your degree; CPT cannot be authorized after completing your program
  5. Enrolled: You must be enrolled full-time during the term CPT is requested, qualify for the Summer Co-Op program, or have an approved Reduced Course Load. You may not do CPT while on “filing fee status.”

STEP 3: OBTAIN A JOB OFFER LETTER

A job offer letter for a job in your major field of study is required to apply for CPT. Your job offer letter must include all of the following (see our sample job offer letter ):

  • Company logo/letterhead.
  • Description of the training program.
  • Location.
  • Name and address of training supervisor.
  • Salary.
  • Number of hours per week:
    • Cannot exceed 20 hours per week during the academic quarter.
    • Can work full-time during academic breaks or during the quarter if you have advanced to candidacy.
  • Dates of the training:
    • Must be within the dates of an academic quarter or summer session (see the table below).
    • Make sure to verify that TA and GSR responsibilities do not conflict with summer employment dates.

      Term you are enrolled in a CPT-eligible course

      Earliest possible CPT start date for that term

      Latest possible CPT end date within the term

      Dates you may amend the CPT end date through a Winter or Spring Break  (may work part-time or full-time)

      Winter 2021

      January 4, 2021

      March 20, 2021

      March 21, 2021 - March 23, 2021

      Spring 2021

      March 24, 2021

      June 11, 2021

      No extensions (to continue employment, submit a new CPT application for a Summer session)

      Summer 2021: Summer Cooperative Agreement

      June 12, 2021

      September 22, 2021*

      May work full-time for the duration of CPT in the Summer

      Summer 2021: Special Session (Session III)**

      June 12, 2021

      Enrollment End Date OR September 22, 2021***

      Fall 2021

      September 23, 2021

      December 11, 2021

      December 12, 2021 - January 02, 2022

      * Students registered in Fall 2021 can request an end date up to September 22, 2021.

      ** If you are graduating during the summer, you must enroll in a research unit to be eligible for CPT. We recommend that you enroll in Special Summer Session (Session III).

      *** Students enrolled in Summer Session III can work until the day before fall quarter begins only if showing fall quarter enrollment.

 


Additional Requirements for a Social Security Number application

If you will be applying for a Social Security Number (SSN) , please also include the following information in the job offer letter, as this information is required by the Social Security Administration for the SSN application:

  • Job title/position.
  • Company’s EIN number.
  • Supervisor’s contact information (most importantly the phone number).

STEP 4: ENROLL IN A CPT-ELIGIBLE COURSE

Option 1 (Academic year & Summer): Academic department course enrollment

The employment must be an integral part of the curriculum, that is, you must get academic credit for your employment. Thus, you will need to enroll in (and pay tuition for) a course that will give you academic credit for the employment. Please check with your academic department to see what course you can enroll into that will give you academic credit for your employment.

  • Typical course numbers for graduate students are 291, 297, 298, and 299.

 


Option 2 (Summer only): Summer Cooperative Education Program

During the Summer term, graduate students have the opportunity to participate in the Summer Cooperative Education Program. This is an agreement between the student, the faculty advisor, and the employer outlining specific goals that the student will work towards that would otherwise meet the requirements of a course for credit.

If you participate in the Summer Cooperative Education Program, you will not be required to earn academic credit for the employment, and thus, will not be required to pay tuition during the Summer term. However, you will need to show full-time enrollment in the following Fall quarter when you submit your CPT application for the Summer term.

To participate, you will need to submit the Summer Cooperative Education Agreement with your CPT application. Please note that this form requires the signature of you and your employer. You will need to print out the form and send to your employer. You will then upload the form as part of the CPT application in iPortal.

You are also required to submit the "F-1 Post CPT Cooperative Education Internship for Graduate Students Reporting Form" in iPortal at the end of the summer CPT (due by the first day of Fall quarter). If you do not submit this form, a hold will be placed on your Tritonlink record and you will be unable to register for courses or request transcripts.

STEP 5: SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST FOR A CPT I-20

  • Log in to iportal.ucsd.edu .
  • Go to "Services" tab.
  • Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Request".
  • Fill out your request.
  • Choose your "Document Delivery Preference".
  • Upload a PDF copy of your job offer letter (follow guidelines in "STEP 3" above, see sample job offer letter).
  • Upload a PDF copy of your Summer Cooperative Education Agreement (if applicable).
  • "Submit" your request.

 


Important points to remember:

  • Before authorizing CPT, we will verify that you are enrolled in the course that you indicate on the CPT Request Form. Do not submit your request until the registration shows up on your TritonLink academic history (unless you are doing the Summer Cooperative Education Agreement, in which case you must wait until after you show enrollment in the following Fall quarter to submit the application).
  • Processing time is up to 10 business days; however, incomplete applications will be delayed and may not be processed within 10 business days.
  • If your CPT application is pending for more than 3 days with your academic department, follow up with your department advisor.
  • You cannot begin working until your CPT is authorized.
  • CPT cannot be backdated.

STEP 6: RECEIVE YOUR CPT I-20

  • Your new I-20 showing CPT authorization will be issued within 10 business days.
  • You can check the status of your request anytime by logging in to iPortal and clicking on " My Requests" tab.
  • A notification email will be sent to you when your document is ready.
  • Sign your new I-20 when you receive it, and keep your previous I-20 for your records, do  NOT throw it away.
  • Do not start working until you have your CPT I-20 to show to your employer.

STEP 7: SUBMIT THE F-1 POST CPT COOPERATIVE EDUCATION INTERNSHIP REPORTING FORM

This is a requirement for the students who submitted the Summer Cooperative Education Agreement with their CPT application:

  • Submit the "F-1 Post CPT Cooperative Education Internship for Graduate Students Reporting Form" in iPortal.
  • This report is due by the first day of Fall quarter.
  • Failure to submit your report in a timely manner will result in a hold being placed on your account preventing registration for the Winter quarter.

 


Requesting Changes to CPT:

Updating CPT Employment Dates

If your CPT request for a particular academic term is pending or has been approved, and you need to update your CPT start date, or shorten your CPT employment period, submit an updated  job offer letter  with the corrected dates to iPortal. Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Amendment I-20 Request".

Extending CPT into Winter or Spring Break

If the position extends into an academic break (excluding Summer), but you will not continue the position into the following quarter, you may request an extension by registering for the following quarter and then submitting a new job offer letter to iPortal. Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Amendment I-20 Request".

Canceling CPT

If you will no longer be working with CPT, please submit a "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Amendment Request" in iPortal.

Renewing CPT to the Next Quarter

CPT is authorized quarter by quarter. If the position extends to the following quarter, you will need to apply for a new CPT, following the same steps as before (Steps 1-5 above).

Updating CPT Employer Physical Address

If you requesting to update your CPT employer’s physical address, please submit a new job offer letter with the updated address to iPortal. Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Amendment Request".

Amending CPT Employer Name

If you requesting to correct your CPT employer’s name on your current I-20, please submit a new job offer letter with the correct name to iPortal. Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Amendment Request".

If you are requesting a new CPT employer, you will need to apply for a new CPT, following the same steps as before (Steps 1-5 above).

Changing Employer

If you are requesting a new CPT employer, you will need to apply for a new CPT, following the same steps as before (Steps 1-5 above).

 


Additional Information:

Social Security Number

You must have a Social Security number (SSN) to be employed in the U.S. This is not the Campus ID number assigned by UC San Diego. Visit our Social Security Number page for more information.

Taxes

Students in F-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA), however they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes. Tax forms are available from February through April of each year. Check the Internal Revenue Service website at irs.gov for federal tax information and the CA Franchise Tax Board at ftb.ca.gov for California tax information.

For general tax guidance, visit the International Tax Help page.