Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a benefit of F-1 status that permits off-campus training that is physically located in the U.S. and is closely and integrally related to the student’s program of study. Not all off-campus experiences will qualify for CPT; a strong academic connection must be documented. CPT will be approved only if it fulfills one of the following academic objectives:
- A course (credit or non-credit) offered in the Johns Hopkins University course catalog that will appear on the student’s official transcript.
- An established JHU cooperative education (co-op) program.
- An internship or practicum that is required of all students in the program.
- An off-campus placement arranged by JHU to pursue graduate thesis or dissertation research that cannot be accomplished on campus, and is required to complete the degree program.
Training that only offers “excellent” or “relevant” experience in a student’s field of study but does not meet one of the objectives listed above does not qualify for CPT. Receiving training is central to CPT and activities where there is no supervisor to provide you with training are not appropriate for this authorization. Such activities may include but are not limited to consulting and starting your own business. Please refer to information on Optional Practical Training for alternatives.
CPT for On-Campus Training
Although CPT is normally for training at off-campus locations, it may also be used for on-campus training in situations where a student has already reached the on-campus employment maximum of 20 hours per week AND has been offered a training position on-campus that meets the CPT eligibility requirements. Graduate students who are receiving a stipend from JHU and who wish to engage in additional training on-campus, above and beyond what is required as part of their stipend, must receive CPT authorization for those activities.
Characteristics of CPT
- CPT authorization must be obtained for each and every internship, practicum, co-op or any other experiential training before any work or training is permitted to start.
- CPT is authorized for either full time (more than 20 hours/week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week) training. See the guidelines below on what level of CPT will be granted.
- CPT is employer, location, full/part time and date specific. OIS must approve any changes in these characteristics in advance.
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In order to be eligible for CPT, students must meet all of the following requirements:
- The student must be in good academic standing and making satisfactory process towards degree completion.
- CPT must not delay the completion of the student’s academic program.
- The student must be in valid F-1 status and have completed at least one academic year before he/she is eligible for CPT.
- An exception to the one academic year requirement exists for students in graduate programs that require immediate participation in a practical training experience.
- See the section below on what constitutes the one academic year requirement.
- The student has not completed the degree program.
- Students who are in “joint” or “dual” degree programs should discuss eligibility for CPT with an OIS advisor.
- The student must secure a practicum offer closely related to their field of study.
- Graduate students who have completed coursework and are engaged in dissertation or thesis only must establish that the proposed activity is necessary for the completion of their dissertation/thesis research.
- The students must receive authorization for CPT prior to beginning their practical training experience.
- Under no circumstances can CPT activities begin before OIS has given formal approval via the issuance of an I-20. Students who begin CPT without OIS approval will be denied this benefit.
The Academic Year Requirement
One academic year is defined as completing a fall and spring semester. JHU summer terms are not sufficient in length to satisfy inclusion in meeting this minimum attendance.
- Students transferring schools and/or changing academic levels may be able to use time as an F-1 student in the prior program to meet this academic year requirement if the student has both a continuous SEVIS program and continuous academic study that is not interrupted by OPT.
- A student who has changed to F-1 status may count time spent in full time study in another immigration status toward the required academic year.
- For a graduate student to qualify for an exception to this requirement based upon a required practical training experience, this requirement must appear on the departmental website.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT
CPT is generally limited to part time (20 hours/week or less) during the academic year. Full time CPT (more than 20 hours/week) may be approved during authorized break periods (intersessions or summers that are not required attendance), approved full-time co-operative education programs, mandatory program internships that are full time, and when full time CPT is necessary for the completion of doctoral dissertations or theses. Summer is not considered an authorized break if your I-20 begins or ends in summer.
- Students in the Final Term of Study. Only part-time CPT will be granted in a final required-attendance term of study, even if approved for a reduced courseload.
- Effect of CPT on OPT. There is no limitation on the length of time that a student may participate in full-time or part-time CPT, as long as eligibility requirements are met. However, if you participate in full time CPT for 12 months or more you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
Paid vs. Unpaid CPT
CPT permission should be considered for all practical, curriculum related experiences off campus, paid or unpaid. Students should be aware that receipt of any benefits, whether monetary or in kind, could be considered employment by immigration, even if not officially categorized as an employee. Consult with an OIS advisor if you have questions about a particular activity.
The Application Process
The application for CPT should be submitted at least two weeks before the desired employment start date. Applications that are submitted with less lead time may not be able to be approved. Authorization will not be granted for training that has started before approval.
Employer Letter. The process begins with obtaining a letter from the company at which you will do CPT. This letter must include the following details:
- Start and end dates of the internship/practicum
- Number of hours worked per week
- Name and address of workplace
- Name and title of supervisor
- Your job title
- Description of your duties
Complete the CPT Request form in iHopkins. Go to ihopkins.jhu.edu, log in with your JHED ID and password and open the F-1 Practical Training drop down menu to access the form. Be sure to follow instructions carefully, including the upload, in PDF format, of your employment letter. A detailed explanation of the relationship between your JHU major field of study and the CPT position is required. Sample explanations are available here. Failure to explain the connection between your program of study and the position will result in the denial of your CPT request. In addition, be sure you put the correct second approver for your form, depending upon your program of study.
Once your second approver provides comments and recommendations, OIS will review the CPT and send you an email upon completion of the review. Please allow 10 working days for this process.
Peabody Students with Short Term Performances: We realize that the application time frame may be compressed due to the nature of your CPT experiences. However, you must take responsibility for quickly filing for each performance, and OIS cannot be responsible if you wait until the last minute. CPT for prior performances will not be granted. Please remember that while registration for CPT covers the entire semester, you must have separate permission, and a separate I-20 form, for each CPT performance.
While on CPT
Class Registration. When your CPT is approved, you will receive a message from OIS that specifies the required course registration. It is your responsibility to ensure that this registration is completed timely. Failure to register for the CPT course is a violation of CPT rules, will invalidate your CPT approval, and may result in loss of your F-1 status.
Maintain Full-Time Enrollment. You must maintain a full course of study as defined by F-1 regulations. Failure to do so will invalidate your CPT approval, and may result in loss of your F-1 status.
Changes of Employer/Extensions of CPT
These follow the same process as initial approvals. Please submit the application for changes or extensions no later than 2 weeks in advance.
*Working for a Non-U.S. Company while living in the United States
Students sometimes ask if it’s okay to work for a company based outside the US while they are physically present in the United States in F-1 status.
Unfortunately, F-1 regulations don't specifically address this situation. Typical F-1 work authorizations (CPT and OPT) can only be used for US-based employers. CPT/OPT cannot be authorized for employers that are based outside of the US, and an employer outside of the US cannot be reported as OPT employment. You may want to ask the company whether they have any US branch or office that could hire you directly, which could be considered a US employer.
In a case where the company has no presence in the United States and is completely based outside of the United States, OIS does NOT recommend that F-1 students engage in employment or other training activities with that company while they are physically present in the United States. It could be construed as working without authorization, which would jeopardize your F-1 status.