F-1 Curricular Practical Training

After students (pursuing an MIT degree) have been in legal F-1 immigration status for one full academic year, immigration regulations allow them to apply for employment in areas related to their field of study through “Practical Training”. There are two types of Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). This handout only refers to Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

  • Only students pursuing an MIT degree are allowed CPT.
  • Special non-degree students do not qualify for any CPT.
  • Students in NON-RESIDENT status are also not allowed to apply for CPT. However, they are usually eligible to apply for PRE-Completion OPT.

Students have the option of using CPT only BEFORE completion of their studies. CPT can be authorized full-time during the annual vacation (summer and during IAP) and part-time (20 hours a week or less) during the academic year in the following cases in which working off campus with a company must be either:

  1. a required component of the curriculum, which all students (including domestic students) in the program must complete
  2. an internship that is evaluated by an MIT Professor, meets the criteria specified below and granted academic credit under a specific course number in the student’s major degree requirement AND the course and academic credit must count towards completion of the degree (must fulfill an elective or mandatory credit that counts towards degree requirements)
  3. be enrolled in the specific internship/experiential learning course during the academic term in which the experience is conducted and CPT is authorized (note: some exeptions apply)

CPT Authorization Dates by Term

CPT is granted on a term-by-term basis. The start and end dates of the CPT authorization period allowed are limited by the preceding term and exam period and the official end date of the academic term in which the experience is conducted. Please see guidelines below for the earliest and latest dates allowed for internships authorized by CPT in the 2016 calendar year.

  1. IAP 2016 - December 19, 2015 to January 29, 2016 (Part-time or Full-time)
  2. Spring 2016 - January 30, 2016 to May 20, 2016 (Part-time)
  3. Summer 2016 - May 21, 2016 to August 16, 2016 (Part-time or Full-time)
  4. Fall 2016 - August 17, 2016 to December 22, 2016 (Part-time)

Notes: Part-time = maximum 20 hours / week, Full-time = 20+ hours / week

How to Apply:

In order to apply for CPT, at least 3 weeks prior to the beginning date of employment, you must bring the following:

  1. 1. a completed CPT worksheet (available in the ISO)
  2. 2. a copy of the job offer letter from organization or company (see sample letter)
  3. 3. confirmation of (pre) registration for the internship/experiential learning course for the academic term in which the experience is conducted
  4. 4. a copy of the I-94 admission record and passport identity page with expiration information
  5. 5. a letter on departmental letterhead, signed by an MIT faculty member recommending the CPT

The faculty letter must specify the following:

a) that the student is in good academic standing
b) that the work is integrally related to the student’s major field of study
c) how the work is integrally related to major field of study
d) the name of the faculty member who will evaluate the work (that name will appear on the new Form I-20)
e) how the work will be evaluated and how many units of credit will be given and when the credit will be granted. The credit must be given under a specific course number in the student’s major field of study in the term in which the CPT is conducted.
f) Name and address of company/organization, including zip code where the CPT will be conducted.
g) Specific start date and end date of the CPT

Please be aware that these are federal regulations and the CPT cannot be granted if the faculty letter does not include all of the points specified above.

Students who are authorized to use 12 or more months of Full-time Curricular Practical Training are ineligible to apply for Optional Practical Training based on that degree.

Please remember that students may NEVER work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year. If you have an RA/TA or another 20 hour per week on campus job, CPT will not be allowed in addition.

IMPORTANT: During the duration of both your studies and your CPT, you are required to inform both the ISO and DHS of any address change within 10 days. You may inform the ISO by updating your address on WEBSIS ( under the “SEVIS US Address” field. Failure to report an address change could result in the loss of your legal status in the US.

As an international student at MIT, you are responsible for maintaining your own legal status. This means you must ensure that you are registered full-time each semester, and that the validity of your immigration documents does not expire. Be certain to report any changes in your academic level, funding, and/or completion of studies date within a timely manner to the ISO. If you allow the date on your I-20 to expire, you will fall out of legal status in the US and may suffer serious consequences.

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