Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training

Off-Campus Training Benefit for F-1 Students

“…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)]. Curricular Practical Training (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 towards a 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 and a new SEVIS I-20 has been issued. A student may not continue to work after the authorized CPT end date

  • 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

  • CPT is not available to students in the final semester of their program

 Those interested in applying for CPT must meet satisfy all of the requirements listed below:

  • Must be in valid F-1 immigration status and pursuing a degree at Hawaiʻi Pacific University

  • 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

  • Undergraduate students must have completed one academic year as a full-time student in advance of the CPT authorization
  • Must meet GPA requirements:
    • Undergraduate students: CPT applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 (this includes courses from their major and other HPU courses/credits earned)
    • Graduate students: CPT applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (from HPU courses taken during graduate program)


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 may not be eligible for CPT if they:

  • Received a program extension on their I-20. In this case, the OISS advisor will need to discuss the nature of your program extension to determine whether CPT will further delay your completion of studies
  • Graduated or completed all semester hours required for a degree 
  • Intend to start their own business, be self-employed, work as a contractor, or work for a startup run by other students
  • Have not completed one full academic year of studies
  • Have not maintained their F-1 status
  • Apply based on a course of study for a Certificate or Minor degree
  • Applied for OPT (for same degree program)
  • Enrolled in a Concurrent Program
  • Have already completed the mandatory number of internship courses in order to graduate
    • NOTE: For MA Strategic Communication students - Those who elect to register for a second internship will not be eligible for additional CPT authorization
  • Have already met the number of internship hours required in order to graduate

CPT Process and Application

CPT Application Instructions

Contact OISS if you have any questions regarding your eligibility to obtain off-campus career opportunities (paid or unpaid)

Academic Requirements

  1. Visit your Academic Advisor (undergraduate students) or your Faculty Advisor (graduate students) to determine the academic internship/practicum requirements for your program. Complete the academic requirements as discussed with your advisor. Your advisor may refer you to HPU’s Career Development Center to complete additional paperwork.
  2. Once you have completed the required documentation, you will be registered for the relevant course. Do not proceed to OISS for SEVIS authorization until you are enrolled in the relevant course.

Immigration Requirements

Once you have registered for the relevant course, begin your SEVIS authorization request with OISS in order to satisfy your international requirements:

  1. Download, print and review the CPT Authorization Request form. This form is required to begin the SEVIS authorization request
  2. Obtain a job offer letter from your employer according to the instructions listed on page 1
  3. Check off that you have read the instructions on page 1
  4. Complete Section A on page 2
  5. Connect with your Academic Advisor (undergraduate students) or Faculty Advisor (graduate students) in order to complete Section B of the CPT Authorization Request form
  6. OISS will issue you a new I-20 within 3-5 business days if your CPT request is complete and approved. You cannot begin your CPT until you have this updated I-20 in your possession
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

Generally, it is best to apply for CPT authorization 1-4 weeks prior to the start of your off-campus training. You must be enrolled in the relevant practicum/internship course before OISS can potentially authorize your I-20 for CPT.

You may begin working on the start date listed in your newly issued I-20. You must have the I-20 with CPT authorization from OISS in your possession before you can begin your CPT.  DO NOT begin your CPT before you receive the proper authorization from OISS, or you will be working illegally!

If the internship, work, or training 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 who engage in unpaid internships or career-training to be authorized for CPT. This includes students who may be registering for internship credit through their academic department.

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, or beach clean-up. 

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

You must submit a new CPT application each semester that you intend to participate in off-campus training, just like you must enroll in the relevant course 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.

No, it is not possible to use CPT for self-employment or to open your own business.

Please refer to the chart below for a summary of difference between Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). If you need more clarification, please contact OISS directly.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Application Type

Apply through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with OISS assistance

Apply directly through OISS in conjunction with your academic or faculty advisor, and/or HPU's Career Development Center

Period of benefit

Taken during course of study (pre-completion OPT) or after graduation (post-completion OPT)

Taken only during course of study

Position Offer

No position (training) offer required for application

Position (training) required before application

Course Credit

May be used for course credit in rare circumstances (pre-completion OPT)

Must be used for course credit

Hours per Week

Part-time or full-time opportunities depending on benefit

May not exceed 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters


Work authorization is limited to 12 months total

Work authorization is limited depending on minimum course constraints

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 your eligibility for OPT, even if you work for more than a year.

If you change employers or organizations, 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.

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

Yes. Please note: CPT authorization is not automatic. Students 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 the relevant HPU departments, such as: Career Services Center, Academic/Faculty advisor, etc.