Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing a program of study at SJSU and want to gain practical training in their major fields of study. CPT may be authorized for a paid or unpaid position. CPT may be granted for internships, service practicums, cooperative education, and service learning activities. CPT may be granted for internships, service practicums, cooperative education, and service learning activities. 

Although gaining practical training is a valuable complement to a student's education, the primary purpose of F-1 status is full-time study. As a result, F-1 students are encouraged to focus on their academic success and ensure that CPT employment activities do not interfere with the primary purpose of their stay in the U.S.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Tutorial

Tutorial on the CPT Eligibility and Application Process.

CPT Eligibility                           CPT Application Process

Authorized Period                     Offer Letter

Part-Time Vs. Full-Time CPT      Frequently Asked Questions


CPT Eligibility

  • Currently maintaining full-time enrollment in F-1 status and pursuing a degree program at SJSU.
  • Currently in good academic standing (minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for graduate, 2.0 for undergraduate), and making normal progress toward degree completion.
  • Not enrolled in 1290R.
  • Have completed at least one academic year as a full-time student at another SEVIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for at least one academic year. English language programs and Open University will not count towards your CPT eligibility. 
  • Transfer students are not eligible for CPT in his/her first semester at SJSU.
  • Students who attended SJSU full-time in another nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B, H-4, L-2) may count one semester or up to one academic year of full-time study prior to changing to F-1 status. To count your first semester in F-1 status, you must have been in F-1 status within 30 days of the semester start date. 
  • Effective Spring 2021: Students that attended SJSU full-time while in another nonimmigrant visa status (H-1B, H-4, L-2) must also complete one semester in F-1 status if their I-20 was issued after July 1, 2020.  Your F-1 status must be approved within 30 days of the semester start date, to meet this requirement.
    In order for a student to become eligible for CPT, they must be enrolled full-time in F-1 status for one academic year. 
    • For undergraduate students, 12 units or more is considered full-time during the fall and spring semesters.

    • For graduate students, 9 units or more is considered full-time during the fall and spring semesters.
    • For both undergraduate and graduate students, 6 units or more is considered full-time during the summer semester.

      One academic year in F-1 status, can be defined in the following various scenarios*:

      Fall (9+ units GRAD/12+ units UGRD) + Spring (9+ units GRAD/12+ units UGRD)  = Summer  CPT eligibility.
      Spring (9+ units GRAD/12+ units UGRD) + Summer (6+ units GRAD/UGRD at SJSU)  = Fall  CPT eligibility.
      *Please note, a student would need to be physically in the U.S. and in F-1 status to meet these eligibility requirements.


CPT Application Process

  1. Review CPT tutorial and FAQs.
  2. Confirm that your major department offers an internship course or an individualized studies course and that you are eligible to do an internship.
  3. Secure a job offer. 
  4. Complete the ISSS CPT form and take it with your employment offer letter to your academic advisor for review. Your academic advisor must sign the CPT form and will give you an add code for the course.
  5. Enroll in the course.
  6. Email the completed ISSS CPT application form and a copy of your offer letter to international-office@sjsu.edu. You must be enrolled in your internship class before submitting your request. 
  7. We will email you within 7 business days of your request to confirm the I-20  has been processed. Your I-20 will serve as proof of your eligibility to work in the United States for a specific employer and during a specific period of time. If you need a Social Security Number (SSN), our office will work with the Social Security Administration (SSA) office to facilitate an appointment for you. You will receive an email notification regarding SSA’s availability. 

Authorized Period

CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis for a specific time frame and a specific employer. Each semester requires a new CPT authorization, even if it is with the same employer. You may not begin working before the start date or continue working after the end date listed on your I-20. The CPT dates on your I-20 will match the dates listed on your offer letter. You may begin your CPT employment after you have obtained your I-20 with CPT authorization from ISSS. CPT authorization cannot be backdated.

Semester Duration Application Period
Fall 2020 August 19, 2020-December 16, 2020 July 1, 2020-October 8, 2020
Spring 2021 December 17, 2020-May 26, 2021 December 1, 2020-March 18, 2021
Summer 2021 May 24, 2021-August 20, 2021 April 15, 2021-June 30, 2021


Your CPT request will be either Delayed or Denied if your offer letter does not contain all of the following items:

  • Must be printed on the company's letterhead,that has their address on it.
  • Must be dated within the last 3 months.
  • Include job title.
  • Include job description.
  • Include employment start and end date.
  • Include physical address where you will work (street number and name, city, state postal code, and suite/building number).
  • Include number of hours per week.
  • Include employer’s signature; We accept handwritten, digital or DocuSign signatures. 
  • **If you are working remotely, then this should be indicated on your offer letter, including the address where you will be working. In most cases, the offer will indicate the student's home address. 

Part-Time Vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-Time CPT

During Fall and Spring semesters, students can work up to 20 hours per week.

Full-Time CPT

During Summer semester, students can work full-time (more than 20 hours per week).

If you are graduating in the summer, you must be enrolled in at least one course that is required for your degree program in addition to the required internship course for the CPT.


Frequently Asked Questions (CPT)

Am I required to enroll in a course for CPT?

Yes. Federal immigration regulations require CPT to be an integral part of your academic program. At SJSU, this means you must enroll in a course (independent study courses are not advisable, but still permitted) that requires work experience to complete the course requirements. The only time you are not required to enroll in a course for CPT is when your department requires work experience to complete your degree program, but does not require course enrollment. This must be true for all students in the same degree program.

Please note:

  • The course/independent study must be offered through your major department.
  • The course/independent study may count toward your full-time enrollment requirement for either fall or spring semesters.
  • If you are in your final semester, you must register for at least one course required to complete your degree program in addition to the CPT course. Unless it is a requirement of your degree program for all students, you may not enroll in only a CPT course during your final semester. This also applies to students graduating during the summer break when enrollment is not required.  

What if I begin working before I receive my CPT I-20?

You should not work before you receive your CPT I-20. It is a status violation if you engage in unauthorized employment. 


Is there a limit on the number of CPT authorizations?

There is no limit on part-time CPT, however, one year of full-time will eliminate a student’s eligibility for OPT. 

Some academic departments may limit the number of times you may enroll in the internship course. Some departments may only allow you to enroll once, twice or not at all. Check with your department academic advisor for more information.


Can I change employers?

No. You may only work for the employer listed on your I-20. If you wish to change employers, you must wait until the next semester to obtain a new CPT authorization.  


Can I work for multiple employers in the same term?

Depending on the length of your internship, it may be possible to work for multiple employers in the same term. Please consult with an International Student Advisor for more information. 


Can I extend my CPT?

Yes, to extend or continue an internship with the same employer, beyond the current semester, complete Steps 1 to 7 of the application process. We cannot grant an extension without proof of enrollment. Do not continue to work until the new CPT has been approved.


What happens if my internship is cancelled or terminated?

Please email our office at international-office@sjsu.edu and provide proof of your recent termination. We will shorten the CPT authorization based on the reported termination or end date and  issue you an updated I-20 for your records.


How will CPT impact my OPT period?

Time used on CPT will not be deducted from your OPT. However, students that use 12 months or more of full-time CPT will not be eligible for OPT. Part-time CPT does not count towards this.


What is the difference between volunteering and an unpaid internship?

The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines governing unpaid internships. To learn more about the differences between volunteering and an unpaid internship, please view our chart.


What are my tax-filing responsibilities for paid internships?

Please go here for helpful resources developed by Sprintax to assist students in filing their taxes who have participated in a paid CPT experience.