Day 1 CPT is a curricular program that allows students to work alongside their studies from the first day of their program. It is a great way for students to get hands-on practical experience while pursuing their degrees. However, there are certain requirements to be fulfilled before a student can benefit from CPT. If a student is eligible for Day 1 CPT, he/she must follow the due process for obtaining CPT.
Eligibility Criteria and Rules for obtaining CPT
Who is eligible for Day 1 CPT?
A student who is an F-1 Visa holder and is enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified college or university, can opt for Day 1 CPT if:
The student has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least a period of one academic year.
The program that the student is enrolled in requires earlier practical training.
There are federal rules, along with university-specific rules that need to be fulfilled in order to obtain CPT. There are some primary rules that must be fulfilled and are mandated by the law in the United States, and thereafter, the rules of the university come into play. Listed below are some primary eligibility rules for CPT:
- A student must maintain the F-1 visa requirements for each semester he/she is enrolled in school;
- A student must have selected a major; and in case of the absence of a major, he/she will not be eligible for CPT.
- A visiting exchange student is not eligible for CPT.
The rules listed above are not exhaustive as every university may have its own policy regarding the use of CPT and can even vary based on each program, hence it is essential to check university-specific policy and procedures. The same has been covered in the latter part of this blog.
It’s important to also note that the rules and regulations around day 1 CPT are extremely strict, and lack of due diligence can even result in the suspension of admission, cancellation of F-1 visa, and hence CPT.
Application Process for obtaining CPT
Once a student clears all the eligibility requirements for obtaining a CPT as listed above, the next step is to apply for the same. The application process for CPT sits with the university.
Typically students need to work closely with the Designated School Official (DSO) and make sure their program allows CPT. For instance, some universities only allow part-time CPT.
Documents required for CPT
In order to apply for CPT, typically the students need to ensure that the following basic documents are in place:
– A complete cooperative agreement is signed by their employer, and submit it to the university.
– Submit the job description that signifies that their role is related to their degree.
A step-by-step guide to CPT
The usual application process that a student usually follows closely with the university is listed below:
Step 1: Make a request to obtain CPT as per the process listed by the university.
Step 2: The request is then processed by the designated school official (DSO), who reviews and determines the student’s eligibility for CPT. This is also where the DSO verifies the documents listed above. The DSO then authorizes the CPT in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for a specific employer.
It is this step wherein the DSO authorizes the different aspects of the CPT – the start and end date of employment, and permissible CPT (part-time or full-time). Whether the CPT is authorised on a part-time or a full-time basis depends on the school policies.
Step 3: Once the request for CPT is authorized, the university will issue a new I-20 including the details of CPT.
Step 4: Once all the procedures are in place, a student can start the paid employment or the training either on or after the start date.
The duration mentioned in the I-20 form is crucial, as it is governed by the statute of limitations, and a student cannot start the work prior to the date mentioned, and all work must be completed within the prescribed or allowed time frame.
It is also crucial to note that the CPT start date must be on or before the CPT is authorized in SEVIS. This is the basic process of how the applications for CPT are pursued, and the same may vary depending upon the university the student is enrolled in.
It is also important to note that CPT is approved either semester by semester or for a maximum of one year at a time. It can be renewed in a similar process as the initial application. If your place of employment changes, role, full-time vs. part-time or work location you need to update your CPT by working closely with your DSO.
Read more frequently asked questions on CPT here.