Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows a student to have a job that is an integral part of an established curriculum where academic credit is awarded, such as an independent study or internship course. CPT is done during and as a part of the academic program. The employment must correspond to a credit-bearing course (.25cr, .5cr, 1cr) that appears in the academic catalog for their major. Students must register for this course and the training for which they are being paid must be done within the academic semester for which they are registered for the course. CPT must fit with the degree that the student is seeking to obtain: either a requirement of the program or to enhance the student’s understanding of their chosen field. Some departments may have requirements for internships or CPT, so be sure to contact your department to find out more about your major requirements.
What are the eligibility requirements for F-1 CPT?
To be eligible to apply for CPT, you must
- Have been in full-time student status for at least one full academic year,
- Be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application,
- Have a job offer for an internship or field experience that is related to your major field of study, and
- Have a completed learning contract specific for the job offer.
When I should apply?
You should start by meeting with Jo Dorrance to discuss how to do an internship or field experience for credit at Wartburg. CPT authorization will not be issued without an approved, for-credit internship or field experience done through the Center for Community Engagement. It is never too early to start thinking about how this could fit into your four year academic plan.
If I do CPT, does that affect my ability to do post-completion OPT?
Generally, no. Part-time CPT does not reduce or limit your eligibility for post-completion OPT. If you work full-time CPT, meaning more than 20 hours per week, for more than 12 months, that will reduce the amount of post-completion OPT you can apply for. However, be aware that once your OPT application is filed, the Director will not authorize any additional CPT.
Do I need to have a job to apply for CPT?
Yes. You need to meet with Jo Dorrance and discuss your options for an internship or field experience. Once you know how to sign up for a for-credit internship or field experience, then you can search for a job. You must complete the learning contract to get CPT authorization, and CPT authorization is specific to that employer.
When can I start working?
You cannot start working until you have a new I-20 that shows you are authorized to work for that employer, and the date on the I-20 has passed. There will be specific dates and a specific employer where you are permitted to work.
Do I have to pay taxes on my earnings from an internship?
Yes, you are subject to federal taxes for any employment you do in the United States. You will also need a social security number to complete your employment paperwork. Contact the Director if you do not yet have a social security number. In January of the following year, you will get a W-2 from your internship or field experience employer that shows the amount of federal and state taxes that were withheld from your paychecks and you will need to use that document to complete your tax returns.
What if my internship or field experience employer is registered with E-Verify?
If your employer puts your name into the E-Verify system, it will show that you need further confirmation that you are eligible to work in the United States. You will need to contact the Director to ensure that the business name on your I-20 is correct, and then call the Department of Homeland Security to speak with an agent. They will investigate to ensure you have the legal authorization to work in the United States. CPT authorization is specific to an employer and a period of time, it will always trigger more investigation if your employer uses E-Verify.
What if my internship or field experience is not paid? Do I still need CPT authorization?
This is a difficult question. Generally, it is recommended that even unpaid internships or field experiences get CPT authorization. It does not cost you anything, and if you have already completed a learning contract, then a new I-20 will be issued. This will protect you in case the United States Department of Labor decides that your unpaid internship should have been paid.