CPT

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary work authorization given to F-1 students to receive training required by a course or program. The training must also be directly related to their major field of study. As defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), CPT is “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” [8 CFR§214.2(f)(10)(i)]. The regulations also state that CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum.

Submit your CPT application to OISS at https://oiss.rice.edu/applyCPT.

Quick Facts about CPT

  • CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program.
  • You must have a job offer at the time of application.
  • CPT applies to both paid and unpaid positions.
  • CPT must be authorized by OISS before you start the position.
  • CPT is employer specific. Separate authorizations are required for each employer.
  • CPT is semester-based. Separate authorizations are required for each semester.
  • Generally only part-time CPT (i.e. up to 20 hours/week) is available during the academic semesters, and full-time CPT (i.e. over 20 hours/week) can only be authorized during the summer and winter breaks.
  • 12 months of more of full-time CPT will make you ineligible for OPT (part-time CPT does not affect your OPT eligibility).
  • Learn more by taking the CPT Tutorial Canvas Course (starting September 15th this will be required in order to apply for CPT)

Quick Links to CPT Forms

Who is eligible for CPT?

Students who meet certain conditions may be eligible for CPT:
1) Student is in valid F-1 status.
2) Student has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a SEVIS approved school for one academic year prior to applying for CPT.**
3) Student is required to pursue practical training/employment to meet curricular requirements of a course/program in their major area of study.

**Special note: Some graduate programs may officially require practical training during the first year of the program. In this very special case only, CPT may be available to a graduate student before the one academic year requirement is met.

Types of CPT available at Rice

All CPT authorizations require a curricular justification. There are three options that may be available to students at Rice depending on their degree program.

CPT required by a course

Who is eligible for this type of CPT authorization?

All students who meet the general CPT eligibility requirement can use this type of CPT, as long as they are taking a course in their major field of study that requires off-campus employment as part of the completion of the course.

This is typically the only type of CPT that is available for undergraduate students.

What class should you take?

OISS cannot advise on academic requirements. You must meet with your faculty advisor to discuss what classes are available for practical training. The class must be offered in the same term as the CPT. The class must be integral to your major area of study, and the practical training must be integral to the completion of the course.

What supporting documentation is required to apply for this type of CPT?

For a CPT based on course enrollment, you must submit the following:

• CPT Request Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form where both Course Instructor and Faculty Advisor sections are fully completed and signed
• Job offer letter on official letterhead (please see additional requirements for the offer letter below)
• Proof of class registration, i.e. printout from ESTHER showing your name and/or student ID, the applicable semester, and registration for the CPT course**
• Official course description as posted at https://courses.rice.edu/ for the correct semester
For undergraduate students only: Printout from ESTHER verifying all majors and minors (make sure your name and/or student ID is visible)

**Please note that OISS will conduct audits for compliance of the course enrollment requirement and to ensure that the course is completed. Failure to complete the course is a status violation and will lead to termination of F-1 status.

Requirements for the CPT offer letter

The CPT offer letter must be on letterhead and must include all of the following information. CPT requests with incomplete letters will not be processed.

• Specific start and end dates of the position**
• Number of hours per week
• Employer's official address and the specific address where work will take place, if different. If work will be done remotely, the letter should indicate this as well.
• Brief description of job duties/responsibilities

**Please note that CPT is approved on a semester basis. Requested dates indicated on the offer letter should fall within the ranges listed below and a separate CPT request and letter is required for each time period if employment continues beyond these ranges:
• Fall 2021: August 23, 2021 – December 14, 2021 (No more than 20 hours/week)
• Winter Recess 2021-2022: December 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (Can be full-time)
• Spring 2022: December 16, 2021 – May 3, 2022 (Can be full-time until January 9. After January 10, no more than 20 hours/week)
• Summer 2022: May 4, 2022 – August 21, 2022 (Can be full-time)

CPT required by a degree program

Who is eligible for this type of CPT authorization?

Students in degree programs where the Rice General Announcements (https://ga.rice.edu/) list an internship or practical training as an official degree requirement.

This is typically only available for certain non-thesis Masters programs (including MBA) and the B-ARCH program.

What supporting documentation is required to apply for this type of CPT?

For a CPT based on degree requirements, you must submit the following:

• Completed and signed CPT Request Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form
• Job offer letter on official letterhead (please see additional requirements for the offer letter below)
• Official degree requirements as posted at https://ga.rice.edu/
For B-ARCH students only: Printout from ESTHER verifying all majors and minors (make sure your name and/or student ID is visible)

Requirements for the CPT offer letter

The CPT offer letter must be on letterhead and must include all of the following information. CPT requests with incomplete letters will not be processed.

• Specific start and end dates of the position**
• Number of hours per week
• Employer's official address and the specific address where work will take place, if different. If work will be done remotely, the letter should indicate this as well.
• Brief description of job duties/responsibilities

**Please note that CPT is approved on a semester basis. Requested dates indicated on the offer letter should fall within the ranges listed below and a separate CPT request and letter is required for each time period if employment continues beyond these ranges:
• Fall 2021: August 23, 2021 – December 14, 2021 (No more than 20 hours/week)
• Winter Recess 2021-2022: December 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (Can be full-time)
• Spring 2022: December 16, 2021 – May 3, 2022 (Can be full-time until January 9. After January 10, no more than 20 hours/week)
• Summer 2022: May 4, 2022 – August 21, 2022 (Can be full-time)

Exception: Due to the nature of the Preceptorship Program, B-ARCH students may be eligible to submit one CPT request for the full duration of their Preceptorship.

CPT required for thesis/dissertation research

Who is eligible for this type of CPT authorization?

Graduate students in thesis Masters or Doctoral programs, where the employment is required to complete research for thesis or dissertation.

What supporting documentation is required to apply for this type of CPT?

For a CPT based on research, you must submit the following:

• Completed and signed CPT Request Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form
• Statement from faculty advisor explaining how the work will form an integral part of graduate research for thesis or dissertation. This statement can be included on the CPT Request Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form or provided on a separate letter (must be signed and on letterhead)
• Job offer letter on official letterhead (please see additional requirements for the offer letter below)

Requirements for the CPT offer letter

The CPT offer letter must be on letterhead and must include all of the following information. CPT requests with incomplete letters will not be processed.

• Specific start and end dates of the position**
• Number of hours per week
• Employer's official address and the specific address where work will take place, if different. If work will be done remotely, the letter should indicate this as well.
• Brief description of job duties/responsibilities

**Please note that CPT is approved on a semester basis. Requested dates indicated on the offer letter should fall within the ranges listed below and a separate CPT request and letter is required for each time period if employment continues beyond these ranges:
• Fall 2021: August 23, 2021 – December 14, 2021 (No more than 20 hours/week)
• Winter Recess 2021-2022: December 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (Can be full-time)
• Spring 2022: December 16, 2021 – May 3, 2022 (Can be full-time until January 9. After January 10, no more than 20 hours/week)
• Summer 2022: May 4, 2022 – August 21, 2022 (Can be full-time)

How to Apply for CPT

STEP 1: Take the CPT Tutorial Canvas Course

Successfully completing the CPT Tutorial Canvas course will be required before you can apply for CPT authorization starting September 15, 2021. Course certificates are valid for one year, so if you have completed the Tutorial within the last 12 months, you don't necessarily have to take it again. However, it can still be a helpful resource and a refresher if you would like to remind yourself of some of the CPT rules.

Completion time is estimated as 45-60 minutes. Please note that you don't have to complete all modules at once, but can save your progress and return to the Tutorial at a later time.

Access the CPT Tutorial Canvas course here: https://catalog.rice.edu/browse/office-international-students/courses/cpt-curricular-practical-training-21-22

STEP 2: Attend CPT Virtual Walk-in Hours

If you have questions about your specific circumstances after completing the CPT Tutorial Canvas course, please attend our CPT Virtual Walk-in Advising hours or schedule an individual appointment with an OISS advisor. Schedule for the CPT Virtual Walk-in Advising hours is available at https://oiss.rice.edu/studentwork.

STEP 3: Determine your Curricular Justification

See the different types of CPT above and determine which curricular justification is applicable in your case. Please discuss your curricular options with your Faculty Advisor, as needed.

STEP 4: Work with your course instructor and/or faculty advisor to complete the CPT request form

Meet with your faculty advisor to complete the CPT Request Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form. If your CPT is based on course enrollment, you will first have to meet with your course instructor (if different from your faculty advisor) so they may complete and sign their section of the form. Make sure to provide a copy of your CPT offer letter to both your faculty advisor and course instructor.

Please note that CPT is approved on a semester basis. Requested dates indicated on the CPT Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form should fall within the ranges listed below and a separate CPT request and form is required for each time period if employment continues beyond these ranges**:
• Fall 2021: August 23, 2021 – December 14, 2021 (No more than 20 hours/week)
• Winter Recess 2021-2022: December 15, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (Can be full-time)
• Spring 2022: December 16, 2021 – May 3, 2022 (Can be full-time until January 9. After January 10, no more than 20 hours/week)
• Summer 2022: May 4, 2022 – August 21, 2022 (Can be full-time)

**Exception: Due to the nature of the Preceptorship Program, B-ARCH students may be eligible to submit one CPT request for the full duration of their Preceptorship.

Access the CPT forms here:

CPT form for Undergraduates
CPT form for B-ARCH Students
CPT form for Graduate Students

STEP 5: Collect the supporting documents

Make sure you have all the supporting documents required for your specific CPT type (see different CPT types above for more details).

STEP 6: Submit your CPT request to OISS

Submit your CPT request to OISS at least one week prior to your requested start date at https://oiss.rice.edu/applyCPT (netID login required).

Please make sure the information you enter on the online student form matches the information on your Course Instructor & Faculty Advisor Form and your offer letter, as CPT requests with discrepant information may not be accepted.

If you have to apply for CPT that starts in under a week, you must provide an explanation why you're requesting rush processing. Please note that under no circumstances can you begin employment until you have received your new I-20 with the CPT authorization.

STEP 7: Respond to questions and review CPT I-20

Make sure to respond to any questions from OISS in a timely manner, and provide updated/corrected documentation if needed.

Once you receive your CPT I-20, you'll find the CPT authorization at the top of the second page. Please review the information carefully and notify OISS immediately if you notice any errors. If any of the specifics regarding your CPT change, please contact OISS immediately, or submit a CPT update request at https://bit.ly/cptupdates.

FAQs for CPT

Why is CPT limited to one's "major field of study"?

U.S. federal regulations mandate laws for students on an F-1 visa under the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The guidance from SEVP recently established that CPT employment must be "directly related to the student’s 'major field of study.'"

Who is my Academic Advisor that needs to sign the CPT Form?

For undergraduate students, this is either your "Major/Minor Advisor" and/or your "Divisional Advisor" who is contributing to your academic curriculum.

For graduate students, this is your faculty advisor.

For all course based CPTs, the course instructor section must be completed and signed by the instructor listed for the course at https://courses.rice.edu/.

What if my CPT continues longer than one semester?

CPT is authorized on a per-semester (i.e. fall, spring and summer) basis. You need to submit a separate CPT request for each job, and each semester (Exception: Students applying for CPT for their preceptorship in the B-ARCH program).

When can I begin working?

If your CPT is approved, you will be issued a new I-20 which will have the CPT authorization with specific dates listed. You may only begin work once you have received the I-20 and are within the authorized dates for your CPT. Working (even unpaid) off-campus before receiving CPT authorization or outside of the authorized dates is a violation of F-1 visa status and will result in the termination of your F-1 record in SEVIS.

What if I find a position that is directly related to a minor?

CPT cannot be issued for work related to a minor. The regulations specifically state that the training must be related to the student's major area of study.

Do I need CPT if I just want to volunteer?

True volunteering does not require CPT, but F-1 students need to be careful about volunteering vs. unpaid work, which does require authorization. For more information, please see https://oiss.rice.edu/volunteering.

Can I use CPT if I want to start my own business?

No. You need to apply for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) in order to conduct entrepreneurial activities on an F-1 visa. Please schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor to discuss Pre-Completion OPT.

Can I have multiple CPTs at one time?

Yes, as long as you are working within the maximum number of hours for F-1 students: 20 hours per week or less during semesters. While you are permitted to work full-time during the summer and winter breaks, immigration regulations do not allow you to have more than one full-time CPT at once. Also keep in mind that each CPT must be authorized separately.

Does CPT affect OPT?

It can. If you reach 12 months of full-time CPT, you will no longer be eligible for OPT. Part-time CPT authorizations do not affect OPT eligibility.

What if something changes after my CPT has been authorized?

If any of the specifics regarding your CPT change, please contact OISS immediately, or submit a CPT update request at https://bit.ly/cptupdates.