Northeastern University combines classroom learning with cooperative learning experiences. International students who wish to participate in a co-op, internship, practicum, clinical, or corporate residency must receive authorization from their academic advisor or co-op coordinator and the Office of Global Services (OGS) before taking part in any of these work experiences.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. It is a form of work authorization available to F-1 students before their program end date. CPT is a required or integral part of an academic program.
- CPT authorization must be obtained for each and every co-op, internship, practicum, clinical and corporate residency, or any other experiential training whether on or off-campus.
- CPT can be either full time (More than 20 hours per week) or part time (20 hours or less per week)
- CPT can be either paid or unpaid. Unpaid off-campus opportunities still require OGS authorization. Authorization is required regardless of compensation.
- CPT is employer, location, and date specific. The employer’s name and address and the precise start and end dates must be authorized by the OGS in advance in SEVIS. Students are not allowed to work outside of these dates or parameters without receiving authorization first from the OGS.
Students cannot start employment prior to obtaining CPT authorization from the OGS. Working for even one day outside of the dates authorized by the OGS is a violation of student status. Any orientation or training days, even unpaid ones, must be authorized by the OGS in advance.
Any extensions, cancellations, or changes to the dates or employer must be first approved by the co-op coordinator or academic advisor and then authorized by the OGS prior to the change.
Eligibility Requirements for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
In order to be eligible for CPT, all students must be in valid F-1 status. Both undergraduate and graduate students must have completed at least one academic year (two full-time semesters or three full-time quarters). Students are only able to request CPT within their current program end dates. CPT cannot go beyond the program end date (which can be found on the first page of your I-20). If you require a program extension please fill out a Program Extension Request. All students must comply with their college requirements and policies concerning the timing of eligibility for any co-op or other experiential training.
Students not Currently in F-1 Status: Students who are changing their status to F-1 must meet the following requirements to be eligible for CPT:
- Completed one academic year
- One academic year must be 2 consecutive semesters or 3 consecutive quarters.
- The academic year must meet full-time F-1 standards
- F-1 standards for graduate students: Minimum of 8 total credits, 4 of which need to be completed on-ground
- F-1 standards for undergraduate students: Minimum of 12 total credits, 9 of which need to be completed on-ground
Please note that not all visa categories allow for full-time study an therefore that time may not meet the above criteria. It is your responsibility to maintain your current visa status.
Please note that these requirements may differ from those put in place by your academic program. In order to apply for CPT at Northeastern you must be both academically eligible as well as compliant with federal regulations as outlined above.
If you are currently not in F-1 status and have questions regarding your eligibility please contact the OGS.
How to Request Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
To participate in an off-campus opportunity in the United States, F-1 students must obtain Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization from the OGS. All students must comply with their college requirements and policies concerning the timing of eligibility for any co-op or other experiential training. Please note that academic departments or colleges may have additional requirements and regulations surrounding eligibility. The OGS will not review any requests for CPT that have not already been approved by the appropriate advisor.
Step 1 – Co-op or Academic Advisor Approval Meet with co-op advisor or academic advisor and discuss your employment opportunity. The OGS will not review any requests that have not been approved by your co-op or academic advisor.
Step 2 – Complete Paper Form The student must complete the appropriate authorization form along with his/her Co-op Coordinator or Academic Advisor. The following forms can be found on the OGS website:
Students must be registered for the appropriate course registration for the training experience prior to seeking authorization from the OGS.
Step 3 – Submit E-Form and Documentation Online The student must upload the appropriate completed form with the advisor signature at the link provided on the first page of instructions. Students will also need to upload the following:
- A valid passport
- An I-94 that indicates “Class of Admission” as “F-1” and “Admit Until Date” as “D/S”
The OGS will examine the student’s documents to determine whether or not the student is eligible to participate in CPT. The e-form will be either approved or denied. If denied, the student will need to resubmit the e-form after making appropriate adjustments to the application. Authorized students will receive an email when their I-20 with CPT authorization has been processed.
Step 4 – Document Pick-Up The student must pick up the documents from the OGS. There are also shipping services available if the documents need to be mailed. Students must have CPT authorization prior to work experience, and must collect the above documents from the OGS prior to CPT start date. Please check the OGS website for current office hours and closures.
How Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Affects Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students are able to use up to 364 days of full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) per degree level before losing eligibility for OPT at that degree level. Part-time CPT (20 hours per week or less) does not accrue towards the 364 day limit. Please note that going over 364 days is not a violation of F-1 status.
It is the responsibility of the student to keep track of how much CPT time has been used per degree level. Students can use past I-20’s to keep track of this.
Consequences of Unauthorized Employment
Unauthorized employment will place the student in serious violation of his or her F-1 status. According to immigration regulations, students who have their SEVIS record terminated for engaging in unauthorized employment are not eligible to apply for reinstatement within the United States. In order to regain status, the student may need to leave the United States and re-enter the country in valid F-1 status with a new I-20. However, there are no guarantees that a student will be successful in re-acquiring status. This process also seriously jeopardizes a student’s eligibility for future F-1 benefits such as CPT and OPT.
Global Co-op and Work Abroad
Authorization must be given for work that physically takes place within the United States. Students working outside the United States do not require work authorization from the OGS. However, students going on global co-op can request a letter from the OGS that may help them upon re-entry to the United States. These letters can be requested at the following addresses:
Most global co-ops and work abroad to not require work authorization from the OGS. Please note that if you returning to the United States while working abroad or on international co-op to perform work for a short period (such as a business trip or conference) this would require authorization. Please reach out to the OGS to inquire about this if you believe this is your situation.
It is important to make sure that you are checking your travel signature before leaving the United States to see if you will need a new one before returning. Please fill out a Travel Signature Request Form or check our website for travel signature session times and dates.