What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an opportunity to obtain valuable practical experience to bridge your coursework with real world application. CPT is available for both part-time and full-time opportunities. F-1 students can be authorized for part-time CPT during regular academic terms, and either part-time or full-time CPT during academic breaks (Winter, Summer, Spring).

Part-time authorization is 20.0 hours per week or less; full-time authorization is more than 20.0 hours per week.

“…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 authorization cannot be granted for self-employment or entrepreneurial endeavors, such as opening a business . CPT is intended to provide mentorship and guidance for real-world application of theoretical concepts and coursework. As such, you are required to have an employee-employer relationship with someone experienced overseeing you.

CPT is reviewed and authorized by the Mines ISSS directly.

Who is eligible for CPT?

Students who have been studying in the United States at Mines or at another institution in F-1 for at least one academic year may be eligible for CPT authorization in their first semester at Mines.  in their current degree program are eligible for CPT. CPT can only be authorized during the academic program; if you have graduated you may be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT authorization can be provided for both the academic terms and/or during the summer or winter break. 

The following are scenarios in which a student may not be eligible for CPT: 

  • Students who are in the first year of their academic program at Mines (excludes transfer or change of level students).
  • Students who have graduated and applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization.
  • Students who have otherwise failed to maintain F-1 status.

Students who have been studying in the United States at another institution in F-1 or in another immigration status for at least one academic year may be eligible for CPT authorization in their first semester at Mines. Please speak with a Mines advisor to determine your eligibility.

If you are a full-time F-1 student who has received a “Reduced Course Load” or have been on reduced registration in the past, you are eligible for CPT. Students who are currently on an immigration-related Reduced Course Load for medical or academic reasons are not eligible for CPT authorization during the semester of RCL authorization. 

Answering Work Authorization and Sponsorship Questions in Job Applications

These questions are often phrased in a very deliberate way, and is similar across many job applications. Variations include: “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?”; “Will you now or in the future require sponsorship?”; or combined in some variation of “Do you require work authorization or sponsorship now or in the future?”

Many U.S. employers prefer to know everything up front in order to make informed decisions that will affect their business(es). You are encouraged to be as truthful as possible while completing all job applications. The phrasing of these questions helps employers plan for their futures and determine up front whether they are capable of properly supporting you as an employee.

It is also recommended to work closely with the Mines Career Center to polish your cover letter and resume, and prepare for interviews. The Career Center has the tool Interstride to help make your job search as smooth as possible. Interstride itself has useful information about employers, to include information about employers who have sponsored students for statuses like H-1B and Permanent Residency.

To determine how to respond to these questions, let us first break them down.

Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?

Answer: YES

International students who have properly maintained their status and have been academically enrolled full-time for two semesters as an F-1 student are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while attending school or Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation in order to participate in off-campus work opportunities directly related to their degree program.

Will you now or in the future require sponsorship?

If you answer NO:

An answer of NO to this question indicates to the employer that you intend to use your [Optional Practical Training (and if eligible, STEM Optional Practical Training Extension)] [Academic Training] for the full authorized duration, then either return to school or depart the United States. A NO answer tells the employer that you do not need any additional immigration support from their company. If you answer NO and later ask for sponsorship for H-1B or Permanent Residency, the company could possible construe your original application as having been false.

If you choose to answer NO, be prepared to explain to a prospective employer why you have answered NO and what your long-term plans are.

If you answer YES:

An answer of YES to this question indicates that you might need their assistance in sponsorship an H-1B or Permanent Residency application in the future. Granted, the future is difficult to plan at times, therefore if you have any consideration that you may pursue a visa status requiring sponsorship in the future, then you should answer YES to this question.

If you choose to answer YES, be prepared to explain that you currently have CPT available or OPT/STEM OPT authorization for up to three years. You are encouraged to research the sponsorship process for the visa(s) you may be interested in so as to make the process as clear and approachable as possible for an employer who may not have sponsored an individual in the past.

Do I need CPT authorization for unpaid opportunities?

Yes. Even if the internship is unpaid or it is qualified as a “volunteer” opportunity and related to your major field of study, you should still apply for CPT authorization. The definition of “employment” in immigration terms does not necessarily equate with being paid, and international students engaged in any form of required internship should be authorized for CPT. This includes students who may be registering for internship credit through their academic department.

Additionally, for all unpaid opportunities, your employer should meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet #71 regarding Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Do I need to be registered in specific classes to participate in CPT?

You must always be registered as a full-time student at Colorado School of Mines during the Fall and/or Spring semester in order to maintain F-1 status.

If you are participating in CPT, you must maintain full-time enrollment. Because CPT is based on work authorization with a curricular component, specific course enrollment for authorization is required. Please review registration requirements below:

  • Undergraduate Students enroll in: 
    • Spring 2021:
      • CSM 497A (CRN 11044)
    • Summer 2021:
      • CSM 497A (CRN 50104)
    • Fall 2021:
      • CSM 497A (CRN 80450)
  • Graduate Students enroll in:
    • Spring 2021:
      • CSM 597A (CRN 10306)
    • Summer 2021
      • CSM 597A (CRN 50105)
    • Fall 2021:
      • CSM 597A (CRN 80451)

You must otherwise continue to maintain full-time enrollment in required academic terms (Fall, Spring) in order to maintain F-1 status. Full-time enrollment for summer is not required if it is not a required term for your academic program. Full-time enrollment is 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credit for graduate students.

The CSM 497A or 597A coursework must show on your record before CPT can be authorized. The 0-credit course is a Pass/Fail course which will not impact your GPA.

All CPT authorizations will require an evaluation at the end of the CPT opportunity. Evaluations should be submitted through the International Portal. Failure to submit the evaluation will result in a “Fail” for the course.

When can I apply and when can I begin CPT?

It is best to wait until priority registration begins because you are be required to have specific course enrollment related to CPT on your record. However, you are eligible to apply up to 60 days before the end of your first year of study. CPT cannot be authorized if the course registration is not showing. Generally, it is best to apply for CPT authorization 2-4 weeks prior to the proposed start of employment. 

When you apply, you must be able to demonstrate the opportunity is directly related, and/or integral to your degree program. You must be making normal academic progress on your degree. 

You may begin working on the start date listed on your new I-20 from ISSS authorizing CPT. You cannot begin working before you obtain your CPT authorization from ISSS (new I-20) or continue to work after your authorization expires. Working without this authorization on your I-20, or before the start date arrives, is a violation of the F-1 regulations and will result in termination of your status.

How do I apply for CPT?

The CPT application is relatively quick and easy. Please ensure you review the course registration information above and get registered for the necessary coursework as soon as possible. Once you have submitted your course registration, you can also work on the online application in the ISSS portal by clicking “CPT Application Form” below. A complete application includes: 

  • Complete electronic CPT Application Form
  • An academic advisor’s recommendation (through the ISSS Portal) 
  • All immigration-related documents:
    • Current Form I-20 and any previous Form I-20(s) you may have,
    • Passport
    • Form I-94 card
  • Job offer letter on company letterhead from a specific employer that includes:
    • Job title and brief job description
    • Exact dates of employment
    • Number of hours of work per week
    • Physical place of employment (Street address, no PO Boxes)
    • Supervisor name, title and direct contact information

Additional Information:

  • An application cannot be reviewed without a complete application form and the supporting documentation as outlined above
  • You may only begin working at your CPT employer after you have obtained your Form I-20 endorsed with the CPT authorization on Page 2
  • Average processing time is 5 business days but may take longer depending on the completeness of the application
  • Note: additional documentation may be requested during the review process
How do I extend my CPT authorization?

To receive CPT authorization for another semester, you will be required to submit a new application through the ISSS portal. To avoid gaps in practical training authorization, plan ahead and apply early. Remember, you must also be able to demonstrate you are registered for the appropriate coursework for the future semester and continuing to make academic progress at the time of application.

How do I submit my CPT evaluation?

All CPT authorizations will require an evaluation at the end of the CPT opportunity. Click the link, complete the form with your current supervisor, and upload it to the “Post-Decision” task in your International Portal for your original CPT request.

Evaluations should be submitted through the International Portal. Failure to submit the evaluation will result in a “Fail” for the course and could impact your future CPT eligibility. 

Can I travel outside the U.S. if I have been authorized for CPT?

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

What is the difference between Optional Practical Training (OPT) and CPT?

CPT permits practical training during a course of study whereas OPT permits practical training after the completion of a course of study.  You can review OPT information here

Part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week) has no impact on eligibility for OPT, even if you work for more than a year in part-time status.  Full-time CPT is authorization for more than 20.0 hours per week and can impact your OPT eligibility if you have full-time authorization for more than 365 days.

You should be eligible to apply for OPT even if you have done CPT in the past as long as you have not exceeded 365 days of full-time CPT and you have otherwise maintained your F-1 status.

How do I update or cancel my CPT authorization?

If you change employers, or if you change from part-time to full-time employment, you must re-apply for a new CPT authorization. Your I-20 must be updated before you may begin the new employment or the change in hours.

If you change from full-time to part-time employment, update ISSS as soon as possible to avoid accruing full-time days which may affect your OPT eligibility.

If you have been authorized for CPT and decide you will not participate in the practical training, please notify the ISSS as soon as possible.

All changes in employment must be reported to ISSS within 10 days for F-1 visa maintenance. 

Will I be eligible to extend my I-20 if I do full-time CPT?

While you may be eligible to be approved for full-time CPT, you are still expected to be making normal progress on your degree.  Under rare circumstances can ISSS review an extension request if a student has been authorized for one semester or more of full-time CPT. 

If full-time CPT will interfere with your ability to complete your academic program on time, please talk to an ISSS advisor before applying for full-time CPT.

The information contained in this web site is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees and administrators of the Colorado School of Mines, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax or any other matter. We aim to provide substantial and useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or sufficiency of the information contained in or linked from this web site or any external/associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither the Colorado School of Mines nor the Office of Global Education is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Click below to apply for CPT authorization through the International Portal.


International Student & Scholar Services
924 16th Street
Green Center, Suite 219
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 9:00a – 12:00p and 1:30p – 4:00p

Main Office Phone and Email
(303) 273-3210 / isss@mines.edu