Curricular Practical Training

“…Curricular Practical Training is defined to be alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. CPT allows F-1 students paid or unpaid internship, practicum, co-op, or fieldwork experience that is an integral part of their degree program. Students can request CPT only if they are still working toward your degree.

  • Curricular Practical Training is not a means of simply gaining employment eligibility or a stepping-stone to be able to work until Optional Practical Training (OPT) begins.
  • A student may not begin work until authorized to work or continue to work after the authorized end date and a new SEVIS I-20 has been printed.

  • CPT authorization is for a specific employer only - must have a job offer for a position that is directly related to your major field of study.

  • CPT authorization is given on a semester basis. Students must re-apply separately for each semester of CPT.


  • Must be in valid F1 immigration status and pursuing a degree at Hawaii Pacific University.

  • Have completed one academic year as a full-time student in advance of the CPT authorization (each education level or new degree programs requires a new full academic year).

  • CPT must fulfill a specific academic objective; so, if an employment opportunity is solely sought because it is beneficial, relevant, or excellent professional/personal opportunity does NOT qualify for CPT.

  • Must register for a course that links your employment to your curriculum


Note: OISS reserves the right to review and deny CPT applications, particularly if it is evident and obvious that the student is trying to delay graduation.

  • Students who have received a program extension to extend the end date on their I-20; the OISS advisor will need to discuss the nature of your program extension to determine whether CPT will further delay your completion of studies.
  • After completion of all semester hours required for a degree. 
  • For situations involving self-employment, contract work, or work for a startup run by other students.
  • For new majors added recently at HPU - OISS requires a student to have declared and been pursuing a major for at least one full semester AND have taken at least 9 semester hours of coursework towards that major.
  • After graduation or completion of a course of study.
  • While enrolled in a Professional Improvement or Non-Degree course of study.
  • Based on a course of study for a Certificate or Minor degree.
  • After applying for OPT.
  • After resuming studies following a period of OPT, unless starting a new degree program and the established curriculum requires immediate participation in CPT; otherwise the student entering a new degree program after OPT will be eligible for CPT after one academic year in the new program of study.
  • After returning to finish the current degree program following completion of OPT.
  • While participating in a Concurrent Program.
  • Anyone who has fallen out of status for any reason, including not maintaining full-time registration or working without proper authorization.

CPT Process and Application

CPT Application Instructions

  1. Your first point of contact for your CPT application would be your Academic Advisor (undergraduate students) or Faculty Advisor (graduate students). Before consulting with your Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR), download and print the CPT authorization request form.  Complete the relevant sections of the form and have your Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR) fill out their portion. Please refer to the instructions provided on the form for more information.
  2. Obtain an employment/job offer letter from your employer. The job offer letter must include all of the following information: printed on company letterhead, contain your employer’s name and full address, specify an EXACT start date and end date of employment (month/day/year), the number of hours per week you will work, and your employers signature.
  3. Depending on your degree program, you would also have to consult with the Career Development Center (CDC) or your respective college. Please note that CDC and your respective college has their own process, forms, and application in addition to your CPT application with OISS. See below for your contacts and who you need to see depending on your degree program: 
    • Communication Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR) AND your respective college.
    • Nursing Majors - Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Social Work Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • TESOL Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Pre-Med Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Health Sciences Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Education Majors – Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Sustainability Studies Majors - Academic Advisor (UG) or Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • Master of Arts in Clinical Health Counseling – Faculty Advisor (GR).
    • For all other majors applying for Internship courses ONLY – Please contact the Career Development Center (CDC).
  4. After all forms have been filled out and the appropriate sigantures have been obtained from your Academic Advisor/Faculty Advisor, you need to register for your requested CPT course with the Registrars Office. OISS will not process your CPT application if you have not registered for your requested CPT course. Not registering may result in your CPT authorization being canceled and/or denied in the future, or loss of legal immigration status.
  1. After registering for your class, submit your CPT application to OISS for processing and final approval. 
  2. Normal processing time is 3 to 5 business days upon receipt of a completed CPT application as well as the completion of the above steps, if applicable to you.  Once your CPT application is approved, you will be instructed to pick up your new I-20 in person. You CANNOT start working until you have picked up your new I-20.

OISS has final approval for all CPT requests as per SEVP/DHS.

your CPT registration will be withdrawn for the semester if deemed necessary.

Additional CPT Information

Frequently Asked Questions

You are eligible to apply for CPT up to 90 days before the end of your first year of study.  The actual CPT employment cannot begin until the first academic year is complete.  You CANNOT begin to work before you obtain your CPT authorization from OISS or continue to work after your authorization expires or you graduate.  If you do, you will be engaged in unlawful employment (i.e., you will be “working illegally” in the U.S.). Generally, it is best to apply for CPT authorization 1-4 weeks prior to the start of employment.  When you apply, you must be able to demonstrate you will continue to work towards your degree.  Therefore, you should be able to demonstrate you are registered and continuing to make academic progress for the academic term in which you will while on CPT.  For example, if you are applying during the fall semester for CPT with a Spring semester start date, you should be registered in classes for the Spring semester.  The only exception to this policy is for CPT taking place in the summer, during which enrollment is generally not required for international students.

No.  You do not need to apply to USCIS.  In fact, only OISS can authorize CPT for eligible HPU students.

You may begin working immediately after you receive your I-20 authorizing you for CPT from OISS, and as soon as the start date requested on the I-20 arrives.  DO NOT begin your employment before you receive the CPT authorization from OISS, or you will be working illegally!

OISS will require you to renew your CPT application each semester.  This means you must plan in advance to renew your authorization before your current semester’s authorization expires if you wish to continue working.  Remember, you must also be able to demonstrate that you are registered and continuing to make academic progress for the future semester at the time of application unless you will be applying to extend your CPT into the summer.

No, it is not possible to use CPT for these purposes.

In most cases, no.  While you may be eligible to be approved for full-time CPT, you are still expected to be making normal progress on your degree.  Unless your CPT is required by your program, OISS will not be willing to extend an I-20 if a student did one semester of CPT or approve a full-time CPT where you are unable to graduate on time.  If you believe that you find yourself in this situation, please talk to an OISS advisor before applying for full-time CPT.

Yes, you must always be registered as a student at HPU during the Fall/Spring semester for tuition-bearing credit - an internship registration that carries no tuition is not sufficient by itself. 

  • If you are participating in part-time CPT, you must maintain full-time enrollment (12 semester hours for undergraduate or 9 semester hours for graduate students.
  • If you are participating in full-time CPT (more than 20 hours/week), Undergraduate students and graduate students who are still completing coursework/pre-comps must still be registered for 12 or 9 semester hours while doing full-time CPT.  

It is your responsibility to determine with your academic advisor what it is appropriate for you and your degree plan.

OPT permits employment after completion of a course of study.  You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.  There is no time limit to CPT, while full-time OPT is limited to one year.  It is possible to do part-time OPT while still in the middle of a program of study, but most students are also eligible for CPT so it is very rare for students to apply for OPT before they complete their required semester hours.

Yes, as long as you do not engage in full-time CPT (more than 20 hours/week) for a cumulative total of 12 months.  Part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week) has no impact on subsequent eligibility for OPT, even if you work for more than a year.

Yes, but only with prior authorization from OISS.  If you change employers, or if you change from part-time to full-time employment, you MUST re-apply for a new CPT authorization.  You cannot make the change until you have obtained a new CPT authorization I-20, or you will be working without authorization (i.e., “working illegally”).  If you change from full-time to part-time employment, you should let OISS know so that your employment will not affect your eligibility for OPT.

If you have previously enrolled as a part-time student before, you must have an OISS Reduced Course Load Request on file for the semester(s) you were under-enrolled.  Otherwise, CPT cannot be authorized.

Yes, if the internship, work, or volunteer opportunity is related to your major field of study, you should still apply for CPT authorization even if you will not receive payment.  The definition of "employment" in immigration terms does not necessarily equate with being paid, and Homeland Security expects international students to engage in unpaid internships to be authorized for CPT.  This includes students who may be registering for internship credit through their academic department.

Yes.  For further information on traveling outside the USA and carrying proper documentation, please review the travel information section of our website.

Yes, unless you are ineligible due to one of the factors listed previously above. However, please ask OISS to notify the USCIS of the cancellation of your CPT as soon as you know you will not use the entire period authorized.

According to U.S. labor laws, work that is unpaid may still be considered employment that necessitates F-1 or J-1 off-campus work authorization.

To be considered a volunteer, the work performed by the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • No expectation of compensation.
  • The volunteer cannot displace a genuine employee, and the services provided by the volunteer should not be the same services for which he or she was previously paid and/or expects to be hired and paid for in the future.
  • Services are performed for a non-profit service, religious or humanitarian objective. In general, working for a for-profit entity is considered employment and must be for pay.

Volunteering refers to donating time to an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. F-1 and J-1 students are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the above criteria. For example, it would be okay to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, charitable food pantry, beach clean-up, or American Red Cross.

Unpaid internships, on the other hand, do not usually qualify as “volunteer” activity. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s major field of study.

Please note CPT authorization is not automatic. Student MUST OBTAIN FINAL authorization from OISS. Failure to obtain final approval from OISS will render illegal employment as denied by the U.S. government.  OISS also reserves the right to review and deny CPT applications. If denied, you are responsible for notifying Career Services Center, Academic/Faculty advisor, etc.

  • Failure to complete required course-work or sufficient credit hours to graduate because of CPT is not a compelling academic reason for a program extension and request for extension will be denied per USCIS regulations.
  • If CPT is for the student's last semester, the student must have at least one other remaining degree-required course for which to register, in addition to the CPT course unless the CPT course is the degree-required course.
  • A student must continue to maintain full-time student status for the duration of the CPT.