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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

Approval of CPT is at the discretion of academic departments and ISPO. Discuss eligibility and potential impacts to CPT authorization on your academic progress, graduate funding, and on-campus appointments with your academic department. 

 

  • 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:
  • Summer CPT: 
    • Be enrolled in the following Fall quarter to be eligible for the Summer Cooperative Education Program.
  • Part-time CPT:
  • Full-time CPT:
    • Approval of full-time CPT is at the discretion of academic departments and GEPA. Discuss eligibility and potential impacts to graduate funding and on-campus appointments with your academic department. 
    • 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. 
    • International students are limited to part-time CPT during the academic year and may be eligible for full-time CPT during the summer term or quarter breaks. Full-time CPT during the academic year may be available to graduate students who have advanced to candidacy or are enrolled in a program which requires full-time CPT during the academic year.
  • 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. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular 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. Have entered the U.S. and hold a valid I-94.
  4. Maintain F-1 status: You must have an active SEVIS record to be authorized for CPT. You also must be enrolled full time during the academic year, or have an authorized Reduced Course Load (note you may not do CPT while on “filing fee status”). Full time enrollment is not required in summer. 
  5. Continuing Student: You must be currently pursuing your degree; CPT cannot be authorized after completing your program. Your I-20 should have a completion date beyond your requested CPT end date.

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. ISPO requires certain compontents on your job offer letter in order to apply for CPT. Students who will also need  to apply for a Social Security Number may need additional components on their job offer letter. Depending on your need, view the following sample offer letters with corresponding checklists: 


  • 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 by submitting the CPT Amendment I-20 Request in iPortal
    Summer 2023: Summer Cooperative Agreement June 17, 2023 September 27, 2023* May work full-time for the duration of CPT in the Summer
    Summer 2023: Special Session (Session III)** June 17, 2023 Enrollment End Date or September 27, 2023***
    Fall 2023 September 28, 2023 December 16, 2023 December 17, 2023 - January 02, 2024
    Winter 2024 January 03, 2024 March 23, 2024

    March 24, 2024 - March 30, 2024

    Spring 2024 April 1, 2024 June 14, 2024 No extensions (to continue employment, submit a new CPT application for a Summer session)
    Summer 2024: Summer Cooperative Agreement June 15, 2024 September 25, 2024* May work full-time for the duration of CPT in the Summer
    Summer 2024: Special Session (Session III)** June 15, 2024 Enrollment End Date or September 25, 2024***
    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 by submitting the CPT Amendment I-20 Request in iPortal

    * Students registered in Fall 2023 can request an end date up to September 27, 2023.

    ** 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.

 

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 who are continuing enrollment through the following fall term will 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 confirm that you intend to enroll for the following fall term when you submit your CPT application for the Summer term. Graduate students may submit their requests before showing fall enrollment and their department will verify their intent to register for Fall.

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 send the form to your employer. Your employer can digitally sign the form and return to you. You will then upload the form as part of the CPT application in iPortal. If your employer refuses to sign the form, you then need to use Option 1 above and enroll in a course to give you credit for your employment.

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

 


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 Summer enrollment begins). CPT requests will be denied if submitted earlier than allowed.
  • 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:

Extending CPT into Winter or Spring Break OR into Next Quarter

If you are ONLY extending your current CPT employment authorization up to the end of a winter/spring/summer break, please do the following: 

  • STEP 1: Register for the following quarter 
  • STEP 2: Submit “F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Amendment Request” in iPortal. 
    • Upload new job offer letter 

If you are extending your current CPT employment authorization to the end of a winter/spring/summer break AND into the next quarter, please do the following: 

  • STEP 1: Register for the following quarter, including a CPT eligible course 
  • STEP 2: Submit the “F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Amendment Request” in iPortal. 
    • For the dates, the latest end date can be the end of the winter/spring/summer break 
    • Upload new job offer letter 
  • STEP 3: Submit the “F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Request” in iPortal. 
    • For the dates, the start date should be the first day of instruction for the quarter (see chart above under “Step 3: Obtain a Job Offer Letter”) 
    • Confirm you will also submit the F-1 CPT I-20 Amendment Request 
    • Upload new job offer letter 

If you are continuing your current CPT employment authorization into the next quarter, but will take a break in between quarters, please do the following: 

  • STEP 1: Register for the following quarter, including a CPT eligible course 
  • STEP 2: Submit the “F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Request” in iPortal. 
    • For the dates, the earliest start date should be the first day of instruction for the quarter (see chart above under “Step 3: Obtain a Job Offer Letter”) 
    • Upload new job offer letter 

Canceling or Shortening 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.

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 are 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).

Correcting CPT Employment Start Date or Other CPT I-20 Errors

If your CPT request for a particular academic term is pending or has been approved, and you need to update your CPT start date, please submit the following: 

  • Select " F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Amendment I-20 Request" in iPortal . 
  • Upload an updated job offer letter with the corrected dates  

If you need to correct another error on your pending or approved CPT request, please do the following: 

  • Email iemployment@ucsd.edu. Include name and PID. 
  • Indicate whether your CPT request has been approved by ISPO in iPortal or not. 
  • Explain the error and what needs to be corrected. 

 


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.