F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Our normal processing time for CPT is 3 business days. However, CPT requests are commonly delayed due to errors or omissions on the request form or employment letter. BIO's remote work model (due to COVID-19) poses additional challenges to issuing your I-20 by your employment start date. Please submit your CPT application to BIO AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE your internship/employment start date to ensure you are authorized to work on time. If you submit your application later than that, we cannot guarantee that you will be authorized to work by your requested start date of employment. Please note that F-1 students are required to have their CPT I-20 in hand on their first day of employment.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing a course of study in the United States and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

If an F-1 student uses 12 months or more of full-time CPT at the same degree level , the student forfeits Optional Practical Training eligibility. (Use of full-time CPT in a prior degree at the same level would be included in the 12 month calculation.) Accrual of part-time CPT should not negatively affect eligibility for OPT. While there are no limitations on part-time CPT, high CPT usage can cause DHS to subject records to increased scrutiny when the student applies for OPT, visa applications, or other DHS benefits like H-1B petitions. UC Berkeley has noted a significant increase in Requests for Evidence for STEM OPT applications and H-1Bs for students with high rates of CPT usage.

CPT is an academic experience, and is not intended to be used for regular on-going off-campus work. Students should be mindful to keep all records of CPT and the academic work related to CPT, and how that employment is integral to the degree program. Students will need to retain copies of all previous CPT I-20s when applying later for OPT.

Eligibility for CPT

To obtain CPT, a student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 immigration status for at least two semesters (except graduate students who must work as a requirement for their degree).
  • Have completed at least one academic year as a full-time student in a SEVIS-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary immediately prior to the CPT authorization. The only exception is for graduate students enrolled in a degree program that requires an internship of all students prior to the completion of one academic year.
  • Secure an academically appropriate internship offer directly related to the student's field of study. NOTE: Positions must be appropriate to the student's level of study and major field of study. Retail sales, food service, and other unskilled positions will be denied.
  • Obtain CPT authorization BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be back-dated.
  • Be registered for classes at UC Berkeley; CPT cannot be used when a graduate student is on Filing Fee status.

Additionally, the student's supervisor for the internship can not be an F-1 or J-1 student.

Types of CPT

Degree Requirement CPT

CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e., all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement. Currently, the following programs at UC Berkeley have been identified as requiring employment or practical training to graduate:

  • Haas MBA Program
  • Masters of Bioengineering/Masters of Translational Medicine (Capstone Project: Bioengineering 296)
  • Masters of City Planning
  • Masters of Development Practice
  • Masters of Financial Engineering
  • Masters of Journalism (Summer internship requires proof of J297 Reporting Internship registration for Fall term)
  • Masters of Landscape Architecture (requires LD ARCH 160/260)
  • Masters of Public Policy
  • Masters of Public Health
  • Masters of Social Welfare
  • Optometry Residency Program
  • PhD in School Psychology
  • MRED+D (requires enrollment in RDEV 297)
  • Masters of Design (MDes)

Course Credit CPT

CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade, or a course where students design their own research project based on the employment. Course enrollment should be in the student's major department (or intended major for undeclared students). The only exception is for undergraduate students enrolled in Berkeley Global Internships OR Career Center Independent U.S. Summer Internship . If course enrollment is not available in the student's major department, the student’s major or undeclared intended major adviser must complete the CPT form, and provide additional explanations in the Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section. Applications with no explanation of alternate enrollment will be denied.

Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the employment. Employment may take place in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis. If a student wishes to work beyond the last day of the semester, they must enroll in the next available semester before authorization can be extended beyond the current term (see Application Process, below). Current eligible courses include:

  • Undergraduates, 97/197 Internship/Field Studies or 99/199 Independent Study with the exception of the following major-specific enrollments:
    • Haas Undergraduates 193C Internship
    • Environmental Design 193 or ARCH 108 or LD ARCH 160
      Before enrolling in ARCH 108 during summer, students must meet with a BIO advisor.
    • UCDC Program Participants only: UGIS C196B
  • Graduates, 297 Internship/Field Studies or 299 Independent Study with the exception of the following major-specific enrollments:
    • Haas MBA 293C Individual Supervised Study
    • Masters in Landscape Architecture LD ARCH 160 or LA 297
    • Architecure ED193 (Summer 2017 only)
    • Public Policy 299 or 205
    • School of Information INFO293 
    • PhD in Business Administration PHDBA 602C
    • Law Students (J.D. & J.S.D.) 297 Internship/Field Studies or 299 Independent Study through Boalt.
      For summer CPT, enroll in Law 297 through Boalt.
      *See Dean Hirshen for enrollment and recommendation instructions.
    • Earth & Planetary Science 280
  • UGIS W157 or UGIS W158 for Berkeley Global Internships(link is external)(link is external) (Berkeley Global Internships is CANCELLED for Summer 2020) and UGIS C151 for Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option(link is external)(link is external) (See links for instructions on how to apply for this course credit.)

Employment Dates and Hours

Fall and Spring CPT

  • Employment is limited to part-time (20 hours per week or less) during the Fall and Spring semesters. 
    • Earliest CPT start date is the start date of instruction.
    • Latest CPT end date is the last day of final exams.
  • Students completing Degree-Requirement CPT (see above for Degree Requirement programs) may be authorized for full-time CPT during Fall/Spring only if needed to complete the degree requirement.
  • Graduate or undergraduate students participating in the UC DC Washington Program may be authorized for full-time CPT, if required by the UC DC internship.
  • Graduate students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible for full-time employment during the semester as long as the employment is integral to their degree program.
  • For both graduates and undergraduates, CPT in the final semester of enrollment is limited to part-time 20 hours per week. 

Note: Because CPT is part of the academic program of study, CPT is counted seperately from on-campus employment, and CPT work hours do not impact on-campus employment work hours. 

Summer CPT

  • Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer.
  • If summer is the first or final semester of a student’s degree program, CPT is limited to 20 hours per week.
  • Students completing Degree-Requirement CPT (see above for Degree Requirement programs) may be authorized for full-time CPT during the final Summer semester only if needed to complete the degree requirement.
  • To be eligible, students must enroll in one of the current or next available Summer Sessions (A-E) in one of the courses listed above. Check with the sponsoring faculty member to determine the number of units required. Some students may need to obtain a course code from their academic adviser to be able to add Independent Study units into their Summer enrollment. 
  • Authorization can be granted from the day after the spring semester officially ends up to the last day of the summer (the day before fall classes begin). 

Note: Because CPT is part of the academic program of study, CPT is counted seperately from on-campus employment, and CPT work hours do not impact on-campus employment work hours. 

The CPT Application Process

Important! CPT Processing Time: The standard processing for most student requests, including CPT, is three business days (excluding weekends and holidays), but you should apply at least 2 weeks before your employment start date to ensure that your CPT is approved on time and you have your CPT I-20 in hand on your first day of work. Please keep this in mind as you plan your employment start date. Expedites are not available and we are unable to back-date CPT start dates. DO NOT begin any employment until CPT has been approved and authorized on your I-20. Beginning or continuing employment without authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Incomplete applications may cause CPT to be denied or delayed.

Steps to Apply

  1. Work with your academic adviser and complete the Advisors's Recommendation sections of the CPT Application Form. The Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section of the form MUST be completed by:
  2. Enroll in the appropriate course in your Major or Intended Major. (All applicants are required to enroll in a course unless they have a Degree Requirement). The only exception is for Undergrads enrolled in Berkeley Global Internships OR Career Center Independent U.S. Summer Internship . If course enrollment is not available in the student's Major department, the student’s Major or Undeclared Intended Major Adviser must complete the CPT form, and provide additional explanations in the Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section. Applications with no explanation of alternate enrollment will be denied.
  3. Print your CalCentral "My Academics" page (see screenshot below) to show confirmation of enrollment and your name and attach it to the CPT Application Form. Please note: There are no printing facilities available for use at Berkeley International Office. Please print your CalCentral confirmation before coming to our office if submitting your CPT request in person (you can also submit it by email). CalCentral screenshot
  4. Provide a Verification Letter from your employer. Your employer must print and complete the CPT Template Letter (page 3 of the CPT request form) on their company letterhead. We will only accept a properly completed template letter. CPT applications without the Template Letter will be DENIED. The employment start and end dates on the letter must match the start and end dates on the CPT request form.
  5. Submit the CPT Application Form, employment verification letter, and Cal Central "My Academics Page" to Berkeley International Office, either in person or via email to internationaloffice@berkeley.edu. Advisers at Berkeley International Office will review your application and your eligibility. If approved, the authorization is granted by issuing a new I-20 with the employer's information notated on page 2 of the document.
  6. Pick up your new I-20 at Berkeley International Office three business days after submitting your application. The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

Extending CPT

To extend CPT beyond the current semester, complete the Application Process steps 1-6 again. An extension of CPT authorization cannot be granted until proof of enrollment is available. Students who are working in the fall term and wish to extend through winter break into the spring term should consult with an advisor at Berkeley International Office.

Do I need a Social Security Number?

For paid CPT, students will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). You will apply after you get the CPT I-20. For more information about this process, please refer to our Social Security Number page.

Sample CPT forms

CPT Tutorial

Berkeley International Office F-1 Guide to Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Request Form Signatures from Academic Advisors

BIO understands that many staff, including academic advisors, are currently working remotely and may not be able to sign forms. To accommodate this situation, we will accept the following types of signatures:

  1. Docusign signature.
  2. Official Adobe digital signature with Adobe logo and timestamp (example on page 3).
  3. Hand-drawn signature (not typed) using mouse or touch screen (example).
  4. Email confirmation of academic advisor's approval.
    1. Student should submit the request form to their advisor by email and specifically ask them to include the line "I approve [student name and student ID] for [OPT/reduced course load, etc.]".
    2. Academic advisor should complete the form, but can type their name instead of signing in the signature field. Academic advisor should email the form back to the student with the line "I approve [student name and student ID] for [CPT/OPT/reduced course load, etc.]" in the body of the email. We will accept this language in place of a signature.
    3. Student should forward the academic advisor's email to BIO, making sure to include the completed request form as well as any other required supplementary materials (e.g., employment offer letter and Cal Central enrollment for CPT).