Visa Services
Duke University School of Medicine School of Nursing Health System International House
F-1 Curricular Practical Training
F-1 and J-1 Work Authorization (Power Point)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a work authorization benefit for which eligible F-1 students may apply. It allows a student to have a job that is an integral part of an established curriculum for which academic credit is awarded. The employment must be an important component of the student's academic program (field of study). Examples include alternate work/study programs, internships, and cooperative education programs. If the primary purpose of the employment is to provide the student with work experience which will enhance his/her professional career, then the student must use optional practical training. No application must be filed with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for CPT approval. Students should contact their designated International Student Advisor in Duke Visa Services (DVS) to schedule an appointment for review and approval of the CPT application.


  1. Students are eligible for CPT if they are in F-1 status and have been studying full-time for at least one academic year. The 1-year full-time enrollments requirement may be waived only if the academic program requires that the CPT begin in the first semester or year.
  2. The practicum either may be a required or an optional part of the curriculum. *If the CPT is a requirement for all students following a given curriculum, then it does not have to confer credit. *If the CPT is a required part of an optional course in the field of study, then the course MUST be taken FOR CREDIT. (Please refer to the FAQ #2 below for more information.)
  3. The student must have a job offer in writing.

Note: There is no upper limit on the amount of time available for CPT. However, please note the following:

  • Students who use 12 months or more of full-time (20 or more hours per week) CPT will have no available time for Optional Practical Traning (OPT).
  • Students who use fewer than 12 months of full-time CPT still will be eligible for up to 12 months of OPT.


  1. Complete "Application for Curricular Practical Training"
    (Fuqua School students only should use the "Practical Training Internship Cooperative Agreement Approval Form," which is available at Fuqua's International Center. Law School students only should use the "Ad Hoc Internship Agreement Form" available from the International Studies office. MEM and MEng students will receive a specific letter from the MEM department to be used).
  2. Obtain an offer letter from your employer. The offer letter must contain specific starting and ending dates (not a range), the physical worksite address, name of supervisor and his/her contact information, salary, and a brief description of the employment.
    NOTE: This letter is required and it must include the above information.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your Advisor in the DVS and bring the following to your appointment:
    • a completed "Application for Curricular Practical Training" with required attachments [Fuqua, Law, and MEM students need the form/letter specifically designed for their programs rather than the Application for CPT]
    • the offer letter from your employer
    • a valid, unexpired passport
    • your current Form I-20 and all prior Forms I-20
    • your I-94 card
  4. If all of the required documents are in order, you will receive your CPT approval and a new Form I-20 at your appointment.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  1. Q: Is CPT a separate visa status?
    A: No. CPT is a benefit of F-1 status. While engaging in CPT, you still are considered to be an F-1 student under the visa sponsorship of Duke University.
  2. Q: An internship is not required for students in my major and there is no optional class that requires all students who take that class to do an internship, but I don’t want to use any of my OPT time. Can I use a “special readings” course or independent study?
    A: No. If the internship is not required and if there is no class which requires all students taking the class to do an internship, you are ineligible for CPT. Your only option is to file for pre-completion OPT.
  3. Q: How much does it cost to apply for CPT?
    A: There is no application fee for CPT.
  4. Q: When should I apply for CPT?
    A: For CPT, apply at least two weeks before you are scheduled to begin work.
  5. Q: Are applications for CPT ever denied?
    A: Applications for CPT are denied only when the eligibility or course criteria are not met.
  6. Q: When can I begin work?
    A: For CPT, you may begin work only after you have obtained work authorization from your International Student Advisor in DVS. CPT authorization cannot be back dated, and working prior to obtaining approval is a violation of status. If you work illegally, you will have violated your F-1 status. You will need to schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor to discuss filing for reinstatement.
  7. Q: Can I begin work as a volunteer before my application is approved?
    A: No. Under no conditions can you begin working before obtaining appropriate work authorization. U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has very rigid interpretations of what activities constitute employment. Volunteering for a position which normally provides compensation is considered employment and is, therefore, not permitted without appropriate authorization. For more information, please see our Webpage on “Volunteer Activities.”
  8. Q: How long can I work on CPT?
    A: It depends. There is no upper limit on part-time CPT, but any student who works on full-time CPT for 12 months or longer loses his/her OPT benefits entirely.
  9. Q: Do I have to work for the same employer during the entire period of my CPT?
    A: Changing employers while on CPT requires submission of a new application to your International Student Advisor. It is possible to have multiple employers simultaneously, but you must have CPT authorization for each employer before you may begin working for them.

Revised November, 2009