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Work Authorizations

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows students the chance to obtain off-campus, work (paid or unpaid) that is directly related to their field of study.  It is generally approved as part-time work (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session.  During vacation periods, it may be authorized for more than 20 hours per week. 

Using full-time CPT for 12 months will forfeit all Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Part-time CPT does not impact your Optional Practical Training authorization (OPT).  Whether the internship is required for a student’s academic program or optional, the student must be enrolled in an internship course to demonstrate that the internship is integral to the student’s curriculum. 

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

As an F-1 student, you must obtain work authorization for any type of employment. Unpaid internships at “for profit” companies and organizations are considered work unless it meets the following standards from the Department of Labor 

  • The training received must be similar to what would be given in an educational environment  

  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern only

  • The intern or trainee doesn’t displace regular employees (i.e. you cannot “volunteer” for a position that is otherwise paid

  • The employer gets no immediate benefit from the activities of the intern

  • The intern or trainee is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship

  • The intern is not entitled to wages or remuneration for time at internship  

If your unpaid internship does not meet these standards, it is considered paid and must be authorized. 

Applying for CPT

International students should first connect with their PACT Mentor for assistance registering for an internship course, if the course is not already part of their required curriculum. Graduate students may need to contact their program director for help with this. Then, complete the CPT Employment Form.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for CPT, you must have 

  1. Have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student in the U.S. for at least one academic year* 

  1. Be in lawful F-1 status at the time of applying for CPT, and 

  1. Have a job offer that is directly related to your program 

  • The internship description or job offer letter should include a list of responsibilities, company name and address, and supervisor name and address. 

 *If your graduate program requires an internship or practicum right away, you are then eligible for CPT during your first academic year 

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) refers to a one-year work authorization that you are eligible for after acquiring one academic year in F-1 status. This authorization permits you to work in your field (related to your major) full-time in the U.S. for one full year. Student with majors designated as STEM-eligible by Department of Homeland Security may apply for an extension of 24 months, in addition to the one year. The OPT work authorization requires an application filed with USCIS. International Student Services supports students with compiling and assembling the application. Students are eligible to apply as early as 90 days before the last day of classes for their academic program. Student are highly encouraged to apply as early as possible, as applications can take 3-5 months to be approved. For more information, please contact

Have Questions About Work Authorizations?

Email or call 914-674-7284.