Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is limited, and working without permission is a violation of status and a deportable offense. F-1 and J-1 students may not work off-campus without permission from DISSA. On-Campus Employment is permitted with certain restrictions. Students must complete employment paperwork with DISSA in order to work on-campus. A Social Security number is required for anyone receiving payment. DISSA can assist you with this process.
DISSA offers workshops every semester which explain the different types of off-campus work permission available to F-1 and J-1 students.
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular practical training (CPT), employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, is potentially available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled full-time for one academic year. Students in English language programs are ineligible for practical training.
For an internship to be curricular, it must occur before all coursework is completed, (hence, “curricular”). The only exception is if the internship will provide data directly to the thesis and the student cannot otherwise acquire the data at Penn State. CPT falls into one of these two categories:
Required Part of Degree Program
- If the academic program requires employment in your field of study to graduate, you may participate in CPT as long as you meet the other requirements of lawful status.
- If the employment is required, CPT need not be credit-bearing.
Note: The nine-month in-status rule can be waived if you are a graduate student and the program requires employment before nine months. Undergraduate students must have completed nine months of full-time study in order to be eligible for any form of CPT.
Optional Part of Degree Program
- If there exists a training opportunity which is an important part of your program and which is credit-bearing, you may be able to participate in CPT. Please note: students must be registered full-time every fall and spring semester unless they meet the criteria for being enrolled less than full time.
- Students who have not completed all coursework required for their degree may not request a reduced course load during the fall or spring semesters, unless they are in their last semester.
- Example: A student with nine credits left to complete their degree in the fall semester may not request a reduced course load in fall and move those nine credits to the spring semester.
- Students collecting data from a CPT experience for their paper or thesis must complete their CPT a month before the end of the semester so that they have time to work their research into their paper or thesis for submission to their adviser.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Curricular Practical Training
- CPT may be part time or full time. Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time CPT; employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT.
- Full-time CPT which is not a required part of a degree program (but must be credit bearing) will only be authorized during vacation periods.
Effect of Use on Optional Practical Training
Students should be aware that they will not be eligible for post completion practical training if they accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT.
Application and Authorization Procedures
- Fill out the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) eForm in iStart (Form #3.2).
- Upload the letter on employer letterhead indicating the
- job title
- exact start and end dates of employment
- # of hours of work per week
- place of employment, and
- a brief description of duties.
[Note: The place of employment MUST include the street address, city, state, and zip code.]
- Register for the course that will cover the internship.
- Your request will be forwarded to your academic adviser for verification.
- If approved by DISA, a new I-20 will be produced for you.
**Please note that failure to provide an employment letter containing all of the required elements will result in delayed processing. To facilitate DISSA review, please circle or highlight the required elements in the employer letter.**
Curricular practical training is not meant to be a convenient employment opportunity nor is it meant to be a device to save optional practical training months. If all eligibility requirements are met, an international student adviser will authorize CPT on a new I-20. You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted an extension of your permission to work.
The Department of Homeland Security requires that our office submit your most current address in SEVIS-both home country address and local address. You can change your address at any time by going to LionPATH.
Who Hires International Students on CPT?
If you plan to do CPT, it is important that you plan early by visiting Career Services to learn about their services. Finding employment is difficult, and it is even more difficult for international students for legal and cultural reasons.
Career Services can help you with the following:
- Developing career goals
- Job search strategies
- Resume writing and interviewing
- On-campus interviewing including job fairs
- Internship searches
- And more!