Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorization for F-1 students for off-campus work experience that is required as part of UWM studies. CPT is work experience that is integral to your program of study. CPT eligibility depends on your individual situation and program of study. CPT may be authorized by CIE after a recommendation by your faculty/academic advisor and a review by the CPT review committee.

CPT Workshop

To learn more about CPT including eligibility, application requirements, and more, watch the CPT workshop. You need to watch the CPT workshop before making an appointment with an Immigration Coordinator with additional CPT questions. 

CPT Basics

Eligibility for CPT
  • Active F-1 status in a degree-seeking academic program.
  • Have been a full-time student for at least the 2 prior academic semesters.
  • Enrollment in a course requiring the CPT work experience.
  • Have secured an internship/work experience offer letter.
Off-Campus Work Experience that Qualifies for CPT:
  • The work experience must be an integral part of an established curriculum, credit-bearing, and needed to fulfill a degree requirement; this must be verified by the student’s academic or faculty advisor.
  • CPT must fall into one of the following categories:
    • Required: Curricular Practical Training is an internship or practicum that you must complete to earn your degree.
    • For Credit: Enrollment in a course that requires the work experience is mandatory for Curricular Practical Training eligibility. The type of courses that are approvable for CPT purposes are internship courses, independent study courses, co-op credits, thesis or dissertation credits, or other approved courses that require hands-on experience. 
    • For Thesis/Dissertation: Curricular Practical Training is an integral part of or provides professional experience for a student’s thesis or dissertation.
  • Work experience can be paid or unpaid.
    • If the work is an unpaid internship that is directly related to student’s area of study, CPT might be required. Students should contact ISSS for details before they start the internship.  
    • True volunteering work, for example, serving food in the church or cleaning the beach, does not require CPT authorization. Students should have no expectation of compensation for the work. 
CPT Authorization
  • CPT is authorized one semester at a time.
    • Students must meet all the qualifications to re-apply for CPT if the required course and work experience spans more than one semester. 
  • Authorized CPT work experience limits:
    • CPT is usually authorized part-time during fall and spring semesters and can be authorized full-time during summer semesters.
    • Full-time CPT may be approved during a fall or spring semester for students in their last semester who are approved for less than full-time enrollment, or students in dissertator status.
    • Part-time CPT authorizes work experience for 20 hours or less per week.
    • Full-time CPT authorizes work experience for over 20 hours per week.
  • CPT is available before program completion, while post-completion OPT is available to students who have completed their program.
  • CPT approval is granted by a UWM CPT committee, while post-completion OPT must be adjudicated and granted by USCIS.
  • Part-time CPT does not impact eligibility for OPT.
    • CPT is intended as a short-term learning experience. Participating in long-term CPT with the same employer may be questioned during adjudication for OPT and/or other future immigration benefits.
  • Full-time CPT of one year or more causes ineligibility for post-completion OPT.
CPT and On-Campus Employment
  • CPT does NOT affect F-1 visa allowances of on-campus employment (20 hours/week while school is in session and more than 20 hours/week during school breaks).
  • Departments or Graduate Assistant supervisors may have additional rules limiting the total hours total students can work each week. 

Applying for CPT

  1. Watch the CPT Workshop 

    Watch the CPT Workshop to learn more about CPT and how to apply. 

  2. Enroll and Obtain Offer Letter 

    Work with your department to enroll in the appropriate course requiring the CPT experience and obtain the internship/work experience offer letter. 

  3. Submit ISSS Connect CPT Application

    • The ISSS Connect CPT application should be completed at least two weeks prior to the projected CPT start date to allow for processing and issuance of the new I-20. 
    • Log in to your ISSS Connect portal to find the CPT application under the Documents & Requests tab. 
  4. CPT Application Review

    The UWM CPT Committee will review completed applications and you will be notified of your approval, denial, or if additional information. 

  5. Receive Updated I-20 with CPT Approval 

    • Upon CPT approval, you will be provided an updated I-20 listing the CPT authorization.  
    • You cannot begin the work experience until the CPT start date listed on the updated I-20 and must terminate the work experience no later than the end date listed on the updated I-20.