Understanding CPT and its Requirements
Today we will discuss the CPT, and we are not talking about medicine here. CPT or curricular practical training is a right to every student with F-1 status, and it is a way to boost your finances and/ or resume and portfolio while studying because we all know it is a tough period.
CPT could be a traineeship, internship, half or full-time employment (20 hours a week is the division line between full- and half-time employment. It is good to work and make $$$ but do not forget that you should maintain your full-time status in the whole time you make your CPT. So working must be combined with attending classes, writing assignments and studying for tests. We all have limits, and 24 hours cannot cover it all. Do not overpromise and underdeliver and know your limitations.).
In order to make a CPT, you must have a valid F-1 status (simple words – to be a verified student with visa), and you must have been a full-time student for one academic year before starting a program. So, no CPTs in your junior year, with one exception only – if your degree program has internship requirement planned for your first year of studies (proved with letter from your department).
There are two main types of CPTs – required and non-required. The first one is the exception we talked about, when your department has a requirement for internships in order to graduate. The non-requirement is any other kind and form of employment.
Another main point I wanted to show to your attention is the CPT/OPT requirement. We will discuss the OPT in some of the next articles, but the thing you should know is that if you make a full-time CPT for more than a year, you cannot be eligible for an OPT later. So my advice is to stick to the part-time option – more time for studying and more options for trainings later.
The documentation and application process is a subject to the next article. Anyways, for now the thing you should now is that you must have an employment’s offer before you apply. It is a pretty common rule for internships, but we must point it out, because without an offer you cannot start the administrative process. In this offer appear the position, dates of employment, number of hours per week, and the company’s address.
You need to obtain approval from your department in order to perform a CPT. In this regard, you should check in your department’s requirements (if any). There could be some limitations regarding the CPT – GPA minimum, courses that one should have taken prior and number of credits one should have gained before enrolling in a CPT.
CPTs are semester-based, so one must submit all the documents, and pass the administrative procedure for each semester (summer sessions included!). One could start its CPT right immediately after the semester is started and must end before the first day of the following semester.
Basically these are the main points of CPT and the understanding of its fundamentals and requirements is crucial in order to make your application process smooth and easy. So, if you plan to make a CPT outside of the requirements, find the perfect job offer, think twice about the timing, work hours and the possibilities for OPT afterwards. The perfect CPT and recommendation afterwards could be a perfect complement to your overall study performance, but don’t forget that to be a student is your first job and priority. Big decisions are big, and, as I have said about the exams, think twice, or better a thousand times. Good luck, graduates!