Skip to main content

CPT FOR UNDERGRADUATE 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:
  • Summer CPT: You must be enrolled in a Summer Session class before submitting your CPT request. Check the Summer Session website to learn when the summer class enrollment opens.
  • 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 major 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. You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year on the same SEVIS number.
    • You may use time spent in another SEVIS approved university or college as long as you were enrolled full time and did a timely SEVIS transfer using the same SEVIS number. If you want 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.
    • You may use time spent in another immigration status (e.g., E-2, H-4) as long as you were enrolled full time at a SEVIS approved university or college for one academic year.
    • If you have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) for a specific academic term, your enrollment in that term is considered to be full-time for the purposes of this CPT requirement.
  2. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the requested date of the CPT.
  3. Your I-20 should have a program end date beyond your requested CPT end date.
  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 term (Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters).
    • Can work full-time during academic breaks and in the Summer.
  • Dates of the training - must be within the dates of an academic quarter or summer session (see the table below):

    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: Session I June 17, 2023 August 5, 2023 In order to extend into Fall 2023, must be enrolled in Fall 2023
    Summer 2023: Session II August 07, 2023 September 09, 2023
    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: Session I June 15, 2024 August 3, 2024 In order to extend into Fall 2024, must be enrolled in Fall 2024
    Summer 2024: Session II August 05, 2024 September 07, 2024
    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

    * For Summer CPT, we recommend that you enroll in the CPT-eligible course (see Step 3) during the Special Summer Session (Summer 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: Major department course enrollment

The employment must be an integral part of the curriculum, that is, you must get academic credit for your employment.

  • You will need to enroll in (and pay tuition for) a course that will give you academic credit.
  • Since CPT is authorized for a specific academic term, your CPT course enrollment will need to be in the term in which you plan to work. This includes the Summer Session term.
  • Check with your major department (minors are not included) to see what course you can enroll into that will give you academic credit for your employment.
  • Typical course numbers for undergraduates are:  191, 196, 197, 198 or 199.

 


Option 2: Academic Internship Program (AIP) course enrollment

Not all majors offer courses that meet the CPT course requirements. If your major department does not have a CPT-eligible course available, check with the Academic Internship Program (AIP) to see if you may enroll in the AIP 97 or 197 course to receive academic credit for your employment. Many international students enroll in AIP for their CPT.

Overview of AIP requirements:

  • Find an internship/job.
  • Create an AIP Learning Agreement.
  • Find a professor to oversee your AIP course.
    Please note that some adjunct professors may have union contracts that do not allow them to oversee additional courses, so it may be necessary to request an exception.
  • Enroll in AIP 97 or 197 course through the EASy enrollment system.
  • For more details and advising on the AIP requirements, refer to the AIP website.
Be sure to start the process early to work through any problems that may come up.

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 ", or
  • Select "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) I-20 Request - For AIP" if applying based on enrollment in Academic Internship Program (AIP 197).
  • Fill out your request.
  • Upload a PDF copy of your job offer letter (follow guidelines in "STEP 3" above, see sample job offer letter).
  • "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.
  • 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 major 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.

 


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 CPT or Shortening CPT

If you will no longer be working with CPT OR need to shorten your CPT end date, 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 updated address 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.