The acronym CPT refers to Curricular Practical Training. This condition authorizes International students that are taking degree courses in the United States to be able to work.

In many other countries, an international student is allowed to work around 20 hours a week. This is not so straightforward in the United States. Even if the student has the type of visa that allows for CPT (being this visa the F-1), it’s not automatically assumed that they are authorized to work.

These job positions are supposed to be related to the field in which the student is getting their degree. If they are authorized, they might be able to work up to 20 hours or even more than that, depending on each case.

There are Masters or Doctorate programs that offer what people call Day 1 CPT. What this means is that students will be able to work from the very first day of their program.

What’s the difference between CPT and Day 1 CPT?

Usually, CPT was an option for international students only after they had successfully approved their first year of studies. However, in the case of Day 1 CPT, things are immediate. This way, the student can work either full-time or part-time while they take their graduate courses. Entering a university that offers a Day 1 CPT comes with certain requirements that must be precisely followed.


Requirements for Day 1 CPT students

It is very important that these students attend all of their classes. Therefore, having a full-time job is probably not the best option for them.

However, some programs offer most of their courses online, making it easier for students to get the practical training they need. Furthermore, a minimum GPA must be maintained and tests or evaluations must be presented on the date they’re scheduled for.

The university has the responsibility to approve the work you’re doing, which must be related to your field of study.

In the majority of cases, someone else must supervise your work. If any of these requirements are not followed, you could get your visa revoked. This would mean you would have to leave the United States immediately.


Who is eligible for CPT programs?

For CPT to exist, it has to be instrumental for your education. This means that the university must have set this practical training as part of the requirements demanded for you to perform your studies.

Considering the fact that internships are required in a great number of courses, CPT shouldn’t be an uncommon option in many degrees. However, there are others that don’t have such a requirement of practical experience before graduation.

In this case, the student will not be allowed to work under any circumstances. It’s important to notice that if you’re an exchange student, then you’re not eligible for CPT.

Only students that are enrolled for programs that last for more than one year are eligible for CPT. This is an important distinction. Furthermore, before applying for CPT authorization, the student must show that they already have a job offer.

Lastly, only graduate students are eligible for Day 1 CPT.

There are counted exceptions to this when the course requires practical experience from the first semester in the case of undergraduates. However, this is extremely rare. Day 1 CPT is directed to graduate students in master or doctorate degrees.


Types of Day 1 CPT

There are different types of CPT and they will entirely depend on the rules and requirements of the university and program you are pursuing. These types of CPT are:

  1. Cooperative CPT: If there’s an agreement of cooperation between an employer and your institution, this type of CPT might be authorized as an educational agreement.
  2. Course-based CPT: In this case, a specific course offers the possibility of earning a degree through supervised employment. Another option is that the student creates a research project that is based on employment.
  3. Degree based CPT: Probably the most common, this type refers to those degrees that require compulsory internships. In these cases, the student must acquire work experience before being eligible for graduation.


Things to be aware of about Day 1 CPT

Due to constant changes in immigration laws and regulations, it’s important to consider the fact that, even if the university approves of the Day 1 CPT, this doesn’t mean that the Department of Homeland Security will.

You shouldn’t have any problems with your Day 1 CPT if it’s an integral part of your coursework and if you’re attending your higher education courses regularly. After all, your F-1 visa is a student visa and this should be your main activity.

Furthermore, if you already pursued one master in the United States and you want to pursue another master or a doctorate, it’s important to make sure that you’re following every regulation when applying for Day 1 CPT. Sometimes, getting advice from an immigration lawyer might be the best way to make sure you’re not breaking any laws.


Recent Updates on Day 1 CPT

In the last year, there have been denials at the port of entry for some Day 1 CPT holders. This tends to happen when the student is entering the United States for a second master’s degree.

This didn’t happen before, but it’s something to consider if this is your case. The student must be able to provide sufficient evidence that they will be living near the campus, and going there constantly for the studies.

Working should be a secondary thing, as you’re not entering with a work visa. There are no reports of this happening when the student is entering a doctorate program.

If you consider that a university that offers a Day 1 CPT is the best for you, then there are numerous options. Institutions all over the country offer master and doctorate programs that require practical training from the beginning of the semester.

Many of these offer online courses, which might allow you to have a more flexible schedule while obtaining your degree. Before making a decision, you should definitely check which university is the best for you.


I hope that this article on Day 1 CPT was helpful. For more information on different universities and scholarships in the United States, please visit the US Scholarships Page.

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