Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows F-1 international students to work off-campus in paid positions within the US. CPT requires an application completed by the student, which can be submitted via the ISSS Portal. Once approved, ISSS will add CPT work authorization to the student’s immigration record, and issue a new Form I-20 noting the work authorization.
Read This First
CPT follows federal and school regulations:
- Students cannot legally work off-campus in the US without active CPT approval from the ISSS office.
- CPT must be related to the student’s program major listed on their I-20.
- CPT is approved one semester or session at a time:
- During the fall and spring semesters, students can work part time CPT (up to 20 hours/week). During the summer and winter breaks, students can work full time (more than 20 hours/week).
- If an internship position continues to the next semester, students need CPT approval before they can continue working.
The process to begin working is time consuming and requires coordinating between multiple university offices and US government agencies. Students should plan ahead and discuss with their employers on any potential delays.
Students must complete one academic year of full-time study at a US university. An academic year refers to two semesters, excluding winter or summer sessions. Previous full-time enrollment in another immigration status or degree level will count only if: (1) the student’s SEVIS ID number has not changed and (2) the student completed two full academic semesters in the US.
Students who plan to work in paid positions off-campus must have active CPT approval from the ISSS office. Students cannot legally work off-campus in the US without active CPT approval. Students working without proper authorization can lose their immigration status. Students should plan ahead and contact our office if they have any questions or concerns.
Students must have an offer letter for a paid position that is directly related to their degree program. CPT approval is granted per semester – if a position continues to the next semester, students will need to request CPT again for the next term.
Students are eligible to start working from the date they are approved by ISSS. ISSS cannot approve CPT for dates that have passed. Please plan ahead and apply early! Students must have CPT approval before beginning work.
Before You Start: CPT Checklist
- Upload a copy of your job offer letter
- Request recommendations from your academic advisor(s)
- Undergraduate students only need a recommendation from their academic advisor.
- Graduate students need a recommendation from both their academic advisor AND Graduate Program Director.
- Enroll in academic credit or the Internship Success Practicum (PRAC)
- Academic credit is sometimes available in your department as internship credit or independent study credit. Academic credit requires enrollment and will incur regular course fees.
- PRAC is offered by the Career Center and is a non-credit course that appears on your transcript. PRAC does not have fees.
- The deadline to enroll in Internship/Independent Study credit or PRAC is listed on UMBC’s academic calendar.
How to Submit a CPT Request
Submit CPT Request
After CPT Is Approved
Students receive an email from our office when their CPT is approved. Follow the directions in the email to log into the ISSS Portal and download the I-20 with CPT approval. Students should check if all information on their I-20 is correct. If there are any mistakes, let our office know.
Students also need a Social Security Number (SSN) to begin working. SSN are issued by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). To start the process, students should submit a SSN letter request in the ISSS Portal. More information on how to obtain a SSN is outlined here.
After a student has an I-20 with CPT approval and a receipt from the SSA, they present these documents to their employer’s Human Resources department. Students should discuss with their employer on any potential delays ahead of time.
Be aware of job scams!
Common scams are: receiving a job offer without applying, being offered the job without an interview, or sending someone money to accept the job.
Check the sender’s email address and see if it matches the domain of the company. A simple Google search will also show if the company and contacts are legitimate. Reach out to the Career Center about any concerns.
Generally, no. Students need to complete two academic semesters before becoming eligible for CPT. However, transfer students and students who completed two academic semesters in a different immigration status may be eligible. Contact us if you’re unsure.
For part time CPT, there is no limit to the number of times you are approved. However, full time CPT is limited to a max of 12 months. After 12 months, students are ineligible for OPT.
If you are a PhD student, discuss your CPT and OPT plans with an ISSS advisor.
Your offer letter should state your position, start and end date of your employment, your roles and responsibilities, whether the position is part time (less than 20 hrs/week) or full time (more than 20 hrs/week), and your employer’s name and address.
Can I work full time CPT over summer?
Yes! You can work full time (more than 20 hrs/week) during the summer and winter breaks. However, you can only work part time (up to 20 hrs/week) during the fall and spring semesters.
Yes! You can work both an on-campus job and CPT. In the fall and spring semesters, you can work up to 20 hrs/week in an on-campus job and do part time CPT. This means you can work 20 hrs/week on-campus and 20 hrs/week on CPT. In the summer and winter breaks, you are eligible for full time employment in both positions.
I’m in my final semester. Can I do full time CPT?
Yes, but only if you are enrolled in 4 credits or less. Additionally, one of these classes must be an in-person or hybrid course.
Complete and submit another CPT request for the new position. If you enrolled in PRAC, let the Career Center know of your change in plans.
If you are continuing the same job position into the next semester, submit another CPT request for the respective semester. You will also need to: (1) upload an updated job offer letter with the new end date and (2) enroll in PRAC or academic credit for the next semester.
Important! ISSS cannot back date CPT approvals. Please submit your CPT request in advance and account for our processing times so that you can continue working without interruption. Remember: you cannot work without CPT approval!