F-1 Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training (CPT) may be authorized under certain circumstances to allow F-1 students temporary off-campus employment. Such employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study and an integral or important part of the program of study. Training that the degree program requires always meets the requirements for CPT, regardless of whether or not academic credit is received for the work. Examples include clinicals, externships, practicum and internships required by the program. Training that is not required by the degree program may meet the requirements. Examples include volunteer work and internships (unpaid or paid) not required by the program. CPT is authorized by ISSS upon receipt of the proper application materials, outlined below.

CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.

Who is Eligible for CPT?

  • F-1 students who have been enrolled full time for one full academic year (both fall and spring) immediately prior to the semester of their requested CPT work authorization. This requirement may only be waived when an internship is required by the program to begin sooner.
  • CPT is only available during the course of a student’s program of study and cannot be used once a program has been completed.

Full-time vs. Part-time CPT

Part-time (20 hours/week) only during fall and spring semesters. Full-time (more than 20 hours/week) is only available under the following conditions:

  • During summer term or breaks
  • During final semester with an approved course underload
  • If full-time employment is expressly required by a required internship placement 
  • Can combine on and off campus work but cannot go over the hours/week work limits

Other Information

  • CPT requires course registration as indicated on the CPT application form for the semester in which the CPT occurs (summer included).
  • CPT authorization cannot be backdated. Please make sure your CPT work dates are in the future.
  • You are only authorized to work on CPT for the dates listed on your I-20 on page two. You cannot start your CPT employment without having the I-20. The employment must also end on the date specified on your CPT I-20.
  • If you wish to change employers or dates of employment while on CPT you must turn in a new CPT application form.
  • CPT can only be granted on a semester-by-semester basis.

Applying for CPT

  • Job offer letter from employer on employer letterhead with the following information:
    • Address where you will work
    • Dates of intended employment
    • Duties
  • Approval from academic advisor
  • Must be registered for related course credit
  • Only issued by semester, so you must reapply each semester

Contact Us

International Student Scholar Services (ISSS)
Williston Hall

Phone: 815-753-1346
Email: isss@niu.edu

Staff Office Hours

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Walk-in Appointments

No scheduled appointment needed in these hours

10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.