Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is one of the two authorization options of off-campus employment for international students in the U.S. under the F-1 category. The other option is Optical Practical Training (OPT).
CPT refers to a program that allows international students to gain some practical experience on their course using employment, internship, and co-operative education.
However, you are required to have an F-1 visa for Curricular Practical Training, and you must complete Curricular Practical Training before your graduation.
The authorization option of off-campus employment for J-1 category of international students in the U.S. is Academic Training (AT).
Understanding F-1, M-1, and J-1 Categories
F-1 nonimmigrants are students who pursue academic or language training courses or programs.
M-1 nonimmigrants are students who pursue vocational or non-academic training courses or programs.
A J-1 nonimmigrant visa is similar to the F-1 visa in terms of the courses and programs. However, the difference lies in the authorization option for off-campus working and source of funding for the programs.
Types of Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is categorized into two parts-
Part-time CPT is applicable when your weekly employment is 20 hours or lesser.
Full-time CPT is applicable when your weekly employment exceeds 20 hours.
Eligibility Criteria for CPT
You are eligible for CPT if you fulfil some specific criteria. Such criteria are, if you-
- Have an F-1 visa status, and it is valid yet.
- Have a job offer, whether part-time or full-time.
- Are having U-M approved health insurance.
- Haven’t been enrolled in a profound English language training program.
- Must have a valid passport of at least six months.
- Might require a Canadian entry visa in certain circumstances.
Moreover, you must follow the detailed guideline for the CPT application.
You must comply with all the required documents; otherwise, the IC will not accept the incomplete CPT application. These documents are-
- Request form of CPT authorization.
- Online workshop completion of CPT.
- Detailed training description of your company.
- Academic advisor recommendation form for CPT.
- Photocopy of your current I–20 and I-94.
How to Apply for the CPT?
Although there may be a slight difference among the different colleges’ processes, most commonly, the process of applying to CPT is the same.
- To get eligibility, you need to opt for any college offering CPT course.
- Then obtain a job offer letter from your employer. The message should be in the original letterhead of the company.
- Keep all the required documents handy before applying for the process.
- After that, apply for the CPT program through your university. The authorization will take a few weeks.
- After your application is confirmed, you will receive a CPT I-20 either in physical form or by mail.
- Remember to sign and date your CPT I-20 and keep all I-20s in your folder.
- Now, you can start CPT from the commence date printed on your document.
Things to Consider Before Entering Canada
Before you travel to Canada, you must confirm whether you need a Canada entry visa or not.
If you are a citizen of visa-exempt countries, you don’t need any visa to enter Canada.
Otherwise, you can obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) if you belong to elsewhere nations.
Also, international students with F or J visas shouldn’t apply for new visa stamps from Canada as you may need to wait until the United States consulates approved your permit, only then you can head back to the US.
Unfortunately, if your new visa gets denied, then you can’t re-enter the United States. Also, you have to get back to your home country directly from Canada.
Your home country is a reliable option where you can apply for new visa stamps to re-enter the United States.
As CPT gives you a chance to add some value and experience in your education, don’t leave this opportunity.
However, remember one thing that proper research and the right information always supports your application formalities. Therefore, process your application accordingly.