CPT Work Authorization for Off Campus Internships

Internships and Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
An internship is the practical application of the skills, knowledge and talents that students gain at Augustana, bridging the gap between the classroom and the “real world.” Internships combine classroom theory with a structured, supervised work experience, providing the opportunity to link the academic experience with future career aspirations or community service objectives. Students can find internship opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally—from campus to Australia. Whether gaining a jump-start on professional aspirations or investigating career alternatives for planning a major, securing an internship is an integral part of the college experience.

Federal law severely limits the kinds of employment (including internships) an international student with F-1 visa status may undertake in the United States.  that directly relate to their program of study.  Any experience an international student completes off campus must directly relate to the student’s major. This includes paid internships, unpaid internships, part-time employment, full-time employment and all volunteer work. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) provides international students with the ability to complete these experiences. CPT is not required for on campus internships or internships located outside the United States.

Eligibility for obtaining CPT Work Authorization

  • Maintain valid F-1 D/S status.
  • Have completed one full academic year/the previous two semesters in full time status at Augustana.
  • Be in good academic and social standing with the college.
  • Major must be declared through the Registrar’s Office.
  • Internship must be directly related to your academic major.
  • Internship is registered for course credit (0.25-12 credits.)
  • You must have an employer for CPT – you cannot be self-employed.

Federal CPT Guidelines

  • You must obtain CPT authorization prior to the employment start date.
  • There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in CPT, but if you participate for twelve months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for optional practical training (OPT).
  • If you have already completed all course/unit requirements for your degree you are not eligible for CPT.
  • If you are participating in CPT in your final term, the last day of employment cannot exceed your program end date in the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Fall, J-Term, and Spring Semester CPT
Employment is limited to part-time (20 hrs/week or less) during the academic school year (Fall and Spring semesters; J-Term).  The internship must be an integral part of the student’s academic program and therefore must count as academic credit. According to the federal government guidelines, a 0 credit internship is not an option for CPT work authorizations. At Augustana College, students are allotted 34 credits during the academic school year.  If a student takes more than 34 credits, they will be required to pay an overload fee. However, international students are able to take up to two internships for .25 credit. Overload fees are not charged for .25 credit internships. If you are planning on requesting CPT work authorization, plan your credits accordingly with your academic advisor to avoid fees.  J-Term internships must be taken for 1 or more credits, and students are not able to participate in more than one J-Term experience (academic course or internship.)

Summer CPT
Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer. The start date for your summer internship can be the day after spring term officially ends up to the last day of the summer (day before fall classes begin). Summer credits are not included in the academic year tuition and summer tuition is not covered by financial aid.  According to the federal government guidelines, a 0 credit internship is not an option for CPT work authorizations. The internship credit must be an integral part of the student’s academic program and therefore must count as academic credit.

.25 Credit Internships
International students have the option to register up to two internships for .25 credits. A .25 credit internship is not subject to overload or summer fees, nor do they count as credits toward graduation requirements. Because students are allowed no more than two .25 credit internships, it is recommended to save this option for the summer; however, if an internship credit will result in an overload fee during the academic year, the .25 credit internship is an option. Students are encouraged to plan their academic year course load to include internship credit if they plan to participate in CPT/internships. J-Term internships are not eligible for the .25 credit option.

How to Apply for CPT
Once you have been offered an internship related to your major ask your employer for a letter of employment, to be written on letterhead and signed by your site supervisor that provides the following information:

  • Job Title
  • Beginning and ending dates of employment
  • Wage/Salary being paid
  • Number of hours per week to be worked
  • Place of employment
  • Brief description of work

After you have obtained the letter from your employer, schedule an International Student Internship Registration (CPT) appointment through the Handshake appointment module. At this meeting you can expect to discuss the internship course you’re required to complete and complete the registration process for the internship course. Once your internship has been registered you will need to make a CPT appointment with the Office for International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) and update your I-20 to reflect your CPT work authorization. You must bring the following to your CPT appointment with OISS or your CPT work authorization will not be approved:

  • Unofficial transcript from Arches
  • Letter of Employment
  • Passport, visa, and current I-20