F-1 Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows LSU F-1 students to participate in off-campus training and employment experiences that are deemed an integral part of the established curriculum and directly related to the major program of study. Students who wish to apply for CPT must meet one of the curricular criteria below:

  1. An LSU academic department requires all students in your major field of study to participate in off-campus employment for program completion. You must register in an official internship course offered by the department or in an internship program (ITN or CEP) through the Career Services Office prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  2. You have enrolled in an LSU course for academic credit that allows students in that course to participate in off-campus employment to receive a grade for that course. (Examples: ACCT 4321 & 7231) You must register in the internship course prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  3. You have registered in a semester-long internship program (ITN or CEP) through the Office of Career Services. Such internships are subject to review by IS. You must register in ITN or CEP prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  4. You have enrolled in full-time thesis or dissertation hours and the practical training/employment is integral to the completion of your thesis or dissertation. A letter from your major professor is required explaining how the employment is “integral” to thesis or dissertation completion. If you have enrolled in only part-time thesis or dissertation hours, you must register for a full-time internship with the Office of Career Services to be authorized for CPT.

Students who cannot establish a curricular basis for the training opportunity will most likely need to apply for pre-completion OPT. Discuss your situation with an ISO advisor to learn about your options. 

Offer letter Requirements

Students requesting Curricular Practical Training authorization must provide a letter from the employer that contains the details outlined below. Please print on company letterhead and change all information to reflect your company name and job information, etc. The original letter must either be provided to the student or emailed directly to isoemp@lsu.edu.  

  • Employer name and address  
  • Physical location where student will work
  • Number of working hours per week
  • Training start date and end date
  • Job title
  • Description of job duties

If your employer uses a form letter or contract that cannot be changed, please request an email from the hiring manager or supervisor that provides the required information. 

Application and Authorization Timelines

You should plan to apply for CPT as soon as you have all of the required documents collected, and at least two weeks before your requested CPT start date. There are different application forms based on your level and/or academic programs, so please make sure that you are printing the correct application for your specific program/level.

Please complete and get signatures on the appropriate CPT application form. Once you have a completed application, please scan your documents and email your application to isoemp@lsu.edu

Application processing is currently 5-10 business days, and you cannot start working until you have received your new I-20 with the approved CPT dates. Please note that CPT cannot be backdated. To avoid issues with your status, do not begin any part of your internship prior to: 1) having your CPT I-20 and 2) prior to the printed start date of your CPT authorization (on your CPT I-20). 

Course-Based Curricular Practical Training

CPT is typically authorized one semester at a time and is based on your CPT course enrollment confirmation, or your department’s required practical training experience. CPT requests for F-1 students in the School of Veterinary Medicine will be based on the Veterinary School’s academic calendar (not the main campus calendar). F-1 ECFVG (Veterinary School program) students are advised to consult with an ISO advisor for assistance with any questions regarding their specific CPT timelines.

When you apply for CPT, you should be fully registered for the semester in which you will be authorized for CPT. The earliest date you can register for any semester is the date fee bills become available to students. (See LSU fee bills- Calendar for details.)

CPT Start and End dates

The general guidelines below apply to course-based CPT requests:

  • Authorization dates will be aligned with the dates of the semester in which you are enrolled in the CPT eligible course. (LSU Academic Calendar) This means, the earliest start date will generally be the start of the semester and the end date will be no later than the end of the semester.
  • CPT is issued for a specific semester. CPT that must continue into another term will need to be renewed by application.
  • When your CPT must extend beyond the regular semester dates, please submit a written justification from your academic adviser explaining the curricular need for the additional time.
  • If you are requesting CPT in your last term at LSU, your end date cannot be later than the end of your final semester. Please see an advisor in International Services if you have questions.

CPT Validity

Your CPT is valid only during the dates listed on the second page of your I-20 and only for the employer listed there. You must have an I-20 with valid CPT authorization dates to engage in your practical training experience. DO NOT begin your employment before you receive the CPT authorization from ISO.

If any of the details of your training change (part-time/full-time, work location, etc.) those changes must be reflected in your CPT authorization before they can become effective. Contact an advisor in ISO to discuss any changes to your approved CPT.

CPT Extensions

CPT Extensions are for the purpose of adding a short amount of time onto an existing CPT authorization. Remember that CPT cannot overlap into the next semester without a new application. To request an extension of your current CPT authorization, please submit the "CPT Extension Request Form" via email to isoemp@lsu.edu. If you have questions about extending your CPT, please contact an advisor in ISO for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CPT?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of authorization issued by International Services (IS) to allow LSU F-1 students to participate in off-campus training and internships that are an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT is authorized locally by the school via the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database, SEVIS. An application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not required. 

Because CPT is a curricular type of authorization (rather than optional), you must have an identifiable academic anchor that connects the training opportunity to your curriculum at LSU.

What are the four curricular reasons for which CPT may be granted?

  1. An LSU academic department requires all students in your major or minor field of study to participate in off-campus employment for program completion. You must register in an official internship course offered by the department or in an internship program (ITN or CEP) through the Career Services Office prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  2. You have enrolled in an LSU course for academic credit that allows students in that course to participate in off-campus employment to receive a grade for that course. (Examples: ACCT 4321 & 7231) You must register in the internship course prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  3. You have registered in a semester-long internship program (ITN or CEP) through the Office of Career Services. Such internships are subject to review by IS. You must register in ITN or CEP prior to applying for CPT and maintain registration throughout the CPT employment period.
  4. You have enrolled in full-time thesis or dissertation hours and the CPT is integral to the completion of your thesis or dissertation. A letter from your major professor is required explaining how the employment is “integral” to thesis or dissertation completion. If you have enrolled in only part-time thesis or dissertation hours, you must register for a full-time internship with the Office of Career Services to be authorized for CPT.

What if my case does not meet the above-mentioned curricular requirements?

You may not be eligible to apply for CPT. However, you may be eligible to apply for pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Meet with an advisor in ISO to discuss your situation.

Do I need a formal job offer letter to apply for CPT?

Yes. Because CPT is specific to the employer and the work location, you must have the job offer and details at the time you apply. Your job offer letter should contain the following details:

  1. Employer/company name
  2. Complete physical address of employment location
  3. Specific employment starting and ending dates (mm/dd/yr – mm/dd/yr)
  4. Job title
  5. Description of job duties.

If your CPT employer uses a form offer letter and the required information cannot be added, please request an email with the missing details to add to your application to ISO.

What is the total amount of CPT allowed before I lose my eligibility for OPT for the same program level?

Participating in 12 months of full-time CPT for a degree level negates eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for that degree level. Discuss your situation with an advisor in ISO if you have an academic need for CPT that will put you close to or over the 12 month time limit.

Your eligibility for OPT will NOT be affected by any amount of part-time CPT.

For how many consecutive semesters may I apply for CPT?

Full-time CPT authorization requests are limited to 2 consecutive semesters, though each semester must be issued one at a time. You must enroll full-time in courses the semester following your participation in 2 consecutive semesters of full-time CPT employment, unless you are graduating that semester and are not required to enroll full-time. No exceptions can be made. Requests for part-time CPT are not limited to 2 consecutive semesters.

Must I maintain health insurance coverage while on CPT?

Yes! All F-1 international students are required to purchase health insurance coverage which meets University requirements while on CPT. For more information, please  see the “Health Insurance” link at the IS website.

Must I report changes of address if I move while on CPT?

Yes! As always, Immigration requires that you report a change of address (local residence) within 10 days of moving. If you are moving out of Baton Rouge to begin a new job, it is imperative that you remember to change your address via your PAWS account within 10 days of your move both before and after your internship.

What does CPT authorization look like?

If CPT is approved, you will receive a new original "CPT" I-20 Form, listing the specific dates during which you may work off-campus for a specified employer at a specified location. You do not need and will not receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) for CPT employment.

Remember:

  • You are NOT authorized to begin working on CPT until the authorized begin date listed on page 2 of your new “CPT” I-20.
  • You should not begin working until you have received your processed documents from ISO, as CPT authorization cannot be backdated

If you have registered in an internship through Career Services (ITN, CEP), you should not begin working until all Career Services paperwork has been completed and your CPT I-20 has been issued.

What are the penalties if I do not maintain registration for CPT or if I violate employment rules?

IS reserves the right to cancel CPT authorization at any time, should you violate your F-1 status by not maintaining/completing course enrollment or Career Services registration, if you work over the allowed number of hours, or if you do not inform us of changes in your employment before they occur. Beware that if your CPT employment authorization is cancelled and you are unable to add classes for the semester, a status violation will be reported and you will not be able to apply for a reinstatement of status until you are able to register for classes for the next semester. In addition, your future employment eligibility may be affected.

Is there a charge or fee for participating in CPT?

There is no application fee for CPT, however you must pay all relevant registration fees and tuition for that semester in order to be considered as fully registered. For Graduate Students, please remember that since you will not have your Graduate Assistantship during the CPT semester, you will be responsible for all in and out of state costs. Registering in an internship class will have the appropriate costs attached. The ITN code will still have required fees, even if that is the only code/credit you have for that semester. The CEP code must be added in addition to credit hours, so during the Fall/Spring semesters you must register full-time + the CEP code. In Summer, you must have at least 1 hour of class credit in addition to the CEP code since it cannot stand alone.

How much time in F-1 status do I need to be eligible to apply for full-time CPT?

Based on current Department of Homeland Security policy guidance, CPT may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for an academic year, unless your program requires all students in the program participate in off-campus employment during their first or second semester.

I have already been a full-time enrolled F-1 student for an academic year, but this will be my first semester in a new program at LSU. May I apply for full-time CPT my first semester in a new degree program?

You are eligible to apply for part-time CPT your first semester in a new degree program at LSU only if you are transferring from another university (where you met the full-time academic year enrollment requirement) in F-1 status, or if you are starting a new program at LSU immediately following a period of Optional Practical Training (OPT).

How do I request an exemption from the “academic year” rule, or how may I participate in CPT my first semester if my program requires it of all students?

Anyone requesting an exemption must include with their CPT application:

  1. A copy of a statement from the LSU Course Catalog affirming that the program requires off-campus employment of all students their first semester
  2. An official letter from the department head confirming the same

May I participate in CPT during my graduating semester?

If you have not yet completed all required course work for your program and you meet the standard application requirements, it is possible to participate in CPT your graduating semester. You will be required to register in at least 1 credit hour of required course work while employed your graduating semester.

In order to be eligible for CPT the semester you will be defending your thesis or dissertation, your defense cannot be prior to the end of the midterm exam period in that semester.

"Degree only” registrants are not eligible for CPT in their graduating semester.

I am a graduate student and I have completed all required course work for my program, except thesis/dissertation research hours. May I apply for CPT?

Such cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by IS. Together with your CPT application, you must include an official letter from your major professor explaining how the employment is “integral” to thesis or dissertation completion. The letter must be printed on departmental letterhead and contain your major professor’s original signature.

You will be required to register in a minimum of 3 credit hours of thesis or dissertation research while employed via CPT with the Career Services internship code of ITN (full-time) or required to register in a minimum of 9 credit hours of thesis or dissertation research while employed via CPT with the Career Services internship code of CEP (part-time) or based on an approved letter from your major professor explaining how the employment is “integral” to thesis or dissertation completion. Students enrolled in their last semester before graduation can enroll part-time and maintain their lawful F-1 status as long as they graduate that semester. Students who need less than a full-time course load to graduate in their final term must also submit a Reduced Course Load request to International Services.

How do I register for an internship (ITN or CEP) through Career Services?

After you receive a job offer letter in your field of study, you may contact Ms. Amy Caillouet of Career Services at amyc@lsu.edu to set up an appointment. Once an ITN or CEP internship code appears on your fee bill, you must go to the Bursar’s Office to pay registration fees prior to submitting your application for CPT to IS. You are welcome to submit your application for review prior to this date, but your registration must be completed and your ITN or CEP internship code has been applied before we can process the CPT request.

Students should visit the Career Services web site in order to obtain the required internship forms. These forms should be completed and ready for submission at the time of the appointment with Ms. Caillouet. For more information about Career Services internship programs, required internship enrollment forms, etc., please refer to lsu.edu/careercenter. (Students -> Work Experience -> Full-time Status for Students at Work).

I obtained a job offer without going through Career Services. May I still utilize Career Services for CPT purposes?

You may set up an appointment with Ms. Caillouet and bring a copy of the job offer letter and all completed forms from the Career Services web site to see if the offer letter can be approved for registration in an ITN or CEP before applying for CPT.

How does CPT processing work and how long does IS processing take?

Submit a scan of your completed and signed CPT application via email to isoemp@lsu.edu. There is no fee for CPT processing.

If your complete CPT application has been received by IS, processing will take approximately 5-10 business days. You will be emailed at your PAWS account regarding the status of your application if there are any holds and to let you know when the documents have been processed. Our office is unable to expedite processing requests due to immediate employment start dates or to backdate CPT authorization.

How far in advance should I apply for CPT? How long can completing the application take?

Your complete application should be received by IS at least two weeks before your requested start date. You must be appropriately registered for any courses or internships that are connected to your CPT request.

Ideally, you should begin your job search at least one semester in advance and start completing and compiling your application several weeks prior to the deadline. Completing the forms and obtaining the required departmental signatures and original materials from your employer can take time. We encourage you not to wait until the last minute. Meet with an IS advisor early in the process to clarify any doubts you have.

CPT processing takes 5-10 business days once the registration for the semester of CPT is completed, depending on whether or not all required information has been received. Your requested CPT begin date should not be earlier than 5 business days from the date you submit your complete CPT application to IS. IS is unable to expedite processing requests due to immediate employment start dates or to backdate the begin date of CPT authorization.

When is the CPT deadline?

The final deadline to apply for course-based CPT for all semesters will depend on ability to register for the CPT eligible course. We strongly encourage you to firm up your CPT plans at least a month before the start of the desired CPT term to allow enough time to collect all materials and submit your application.

What documents do I need to include with my CPT application?

For a checklist of documents, please refer to the CPT checklist included with the CPT Application.

  1. A copy of your current I-20 containing the most up-to-date and correct information. Make sure your major/level of study, source of funding, and program completion date are correct. If you need to make any changes to your I-20, you must do so prior to submitting your CPT application. 

    Note about I-20 extension requests and sources of funding: I-20 extensions cannot be granted for the sole purpose of “bridging a gap” before Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization or the start of H-1B employment. We are unable to extend your I-20 or grant CPT authorization if you have finished all degree requirements. You will be required to provide an affidavit of financial support with your I-20 extension request. Your source of funding cannot come from CPT employment or potential CPT employment. You must verify your independent financial support during the CPT period (excluding the revenue that you may earn during the authorized period of CPT.)

  2. Application for Curricular Practical Training with all required student and departmental signatures.
  3. A separate departmental letter is required if
    • You have completed all required course work and are applying for CPT which is "integral” to the completion of your graduate thesis or dissertation. 
    • You are applying for CPT in connection with research or thesis hours. The letter must explain how the proposed employment is “integral” to the completion of your research or thesis/dissertation.
  4. Original official job-offer letter from employer on company letterhead.  The letter must include all required information.
    • If your employer uses a form letter or contract that cannot be changed, please request an email from the hiring manager or supervisor that provides the missing required information. 
  5. Original signed Student Statement of Acknowledgement.

How do I request CPT beginning and ending dates?

CPT authorization is granted for up to one semester at a time. In general, CPT employment dates should correlate with semester dates listed on the academic calendar on the University Registrar’s website. CPT authorization dates are issued based on the specific beginning and ending dates listed in the job offer letter and the acceptable start and end date ranges for course-based CPT.

The start date range for CPT is usually between the day after the last day of the previous semester and the last day to add courses for the coming semester.

The end date range for CPT is usually between the end of the term for the semester of the CPT application and the day before the first day of classes for the following semester.

If you are registered for credit hours and will be graduating during the semester you are on CPT, you are not eligible to work past the last day of that semester. Remember that CPT is a curricular, pre-completion benefit. Once all of your degree requirements are met, there is no longer a sufficient foundation to support the authorization.

Important note: CPT processing takes 5-10 business days from the date all components of your application are complete (registration, fee bill, etc.) Your requested CPT begin date should not be earlier than 5 business days from the date you submit your complete CPT application to International Services. Our office is unable to expedite processing requests due to immediate employment start dates or backdate CPT authorization begin dates.

May I submit my application before it is complete or before making necessary changes to my I-20?

No. Do not submit your CPT application to International Services until you have first compiled all of the above-listed documents yourself. Processing time will be delayed if your application is not complete. 

How do I know if my application is complete?

Refer to the document checklist (included in CPT application) before submitting your application. If your CPT application is incomplete, we will email you within 5 business days of receiving your application to inform you what materials/ information are needed to continue processing. You are encouraged to apply well before the CPT deadline in case materials or information is missing from your application.

How may I request an extension of my CPT authorization for another semester?

To apply for an extension of CPT authorization, you must re-apply for the following semester prior to the deadline. You must submit a new CPT application, now dated in conjunction with your new CPT request.

How may I request an extension of my current CPT authorization for few more days?

To apply for an extension of a few days to your current CPT authorized period, please complete the CPT Extension Request Form. This form must be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the end date of your current CPT period. Please allow five business days to process the extension. Extensions may not be granted past the last day before the start of the next semester. If you are graduating in the semester for which you are requesting the CPT extension, you will not be eligible for an extension.

How many hours per week is part-time CPT? How many hours per week is full-time CPT?

  • Part-time CPT = 20 hrs/wk or less of employment
  • Full-time CPT = 20 hrs/wk or more of employment

During the summer vacation period, how many hours per week may I work on CPT? How many classes may I take while on CPT?

You may work full time (more than 20 hours/week) on CPT while maintaining registration in the internship course for academic credit or ITN through Career Services. The CEP internship code allows a maximum of 20 hours/week employment for part-time CPT.

You may enroll in up to 6 credit hours (full-time for Summer) during this time. Summer is considered an optional semester by US Immigration so students can also choose to enroll part-time or not enroll during Summer (unless it is the F-1 student’s first semester in the US). However, if Summer is your last semester before graduation or Degree Only registration for the following fall semester, you MUST enroll in credit hours to be eligible for CPT during the Summer term. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least one course and graduate students must be enrolled in coursework, or for those graduate students who have completed all coursework, enrolled in thesis or dissertation research.

During the Fall or Spring semester, how many hours per week may I work while on CPT? How many credit hours must I register for?

While registered in an internship course for academic credit or in a Career Services internship with the code “CEP”

You may work up to 20 hours/week on CPT while maintaining full-time course enrollment at LSU. Full-time course enrollment = 9 credit hours for graduate students and 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, during Fall and Spring semesters. You may enroll part-time during your last semester at LSU if you have filed for graduation at the Graduate School or your undergraduate college and your graduation date has posted in the LSU system. You must maintain enrollment in the course mandating CPT or in the Career Services “CEP” program throughout the time of CPT employment or your CPT authorization will be cancelled. Registration for an internship with the “CEP” code requires registration of a minimum of one credit hour for the semester of graduation.

While registered in a Career Services internship with the code “ITN”

You may work full time (over 20 hours per week) on CPT. Unless you are a graduate student who has completed all course work requirements except thesis or dissertation hours or it is your graduating semester, you are not required to register in courses for IS purposes during the time of CPT employment because the Career Services “ITN” code holds your full-time registration at LSU. You must maintain registration in the internship program (ITN) through Career Services throughout the time of CPT employment or your CPT authorization will be cancelled.

Students may enroll in up to 6 credit hours with the ITN code.

In all cases, you may be subject to additional enrollment/registration requirements mandated by your undergraduate college, academic department, or the Graduate School. You are responsible for consulting each of these offices to make sure you meet any additional requirements.

May I keep my graduate assistantship or student worker job while on CPT?

On campus employment and CPT are two independent types of work permission. CPT authorization is based on the connection to an established curriculum. On campus work permission is 'incidental to status', meaning as long as you are in valid F-1 status you have access to on campus employment authorization. If you are authorized for CPT, you remain eligible for on campus employment. Students are encouraged to consider, evaluate and maintain a healthy balance between their full-time studies, any practical training plans, on campus employment responsibilities and self care when pursuing CPT. Graduate students with assistantships are encouraged to check with their department for specific policies or restrictions that may apply.

May I work for more than one employer at a time on CPT?

No. CPT can only be authorized for one employer at a time per semester. There is one exception to this rule: Music students applying for CPT based on MUS 4260/4261 often must perform in several orchestras/symphonies/music ensembles (subject to the approval by the School of Music). 

What should I do if any terms of my CPT employment change?

Should your employment change in any way after your CPT has been authorized (job duties, dates, location, full- or part-time hours, termination of employment, or breaks in employment), you must inform IS immediately and approval must be received before any changes are implemented. It is your responsibility to keep IS informed of any changes in your employment.

May I travel outside the U.S. while on CPT?

Before traveling outside the U.S. you should discuss your travel plans with your employer and with International Services regarding the rules that apply to your authorized dates of authorization and necessary employment for CPT.

Remember to plan in advance! You should be prepared to present the following items to the US Port of Entry when you return. You may be denied re-entry to the United States without them.

  • Your valid passport, which should be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
  • A valid entry visa in your passport. (If the entry visa in your passport has expired, you must go to a U.S. Consulate outside of the U.S. to apply for a new one, unless you are traveling directly to Canada or Mexico from the US for fewer than 30 days and will be reentering the country using the same I-94).
  • Your most recent “CPT” Form I-20 with a valid signature for re-entry on page 2. The signature is valid for up to 6 months. To obtain a new signature for reentry, you must complete the "Green Sheet Request Form" and allow at least 5 business days for processing. 
  • If CPT authorization is based on registration in an ITN or CEP through Career Services, you MUST check with Ms. Caillouet and IS before traveling outside the country during your internship well in advance before traveling. You are subject to the rules in the Career Services, International Services and to those of your employer, which may affect your travel plans and your ability to travel.
  • A letter from and signed by your employer on official company letterhead indicating that s/he has approved your travel outside the U.S. during your authorized employment period and that you will be returning to complete the CPT employment period or ending the CPT employment period.
  • An affidavit of financial support, such as American bank statements, illustrating how you are supporting yourself during your studies in the US. Remember that any potential CPT revenue cannot be calculated as official financial support on an I-20 document.