Graduate Studies

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorized off-campus employment that is directly related to your major and an integral part of your degree program. CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program.  This type of work permission is job- and location-specific, so a job offer is required before authorization can be granted. There is no application fee for CPT and authorization is granted by the Immigration Specialist.



Students that have been in F-1 status for one academic year (2 semesters - fall and spring, summer does not count) at Western Illinois University may be eligible to apply.  Please contact your graduate or academic advisor for department specific eligibility requirements. 


CPT Dates

Summer term CPT dates

Fall semester CPT dates

Spring semester CPT dates

*CPT cannot be authorized past your I-20 end date.


Application Process

  1. Submit your degree plan to Megan Whyte ( - for graduate students only
  2. Register for the internship course before the 10th day of the term.
  3. Ask your advisor to complete their part of the CPT recommendation form and return it to you.
  4. Return the completed CPT recommendation form signed by your academic/graduate advisor and the offer letter to the Immigration Specialist 

The offer letter must be on company letterhead and include the following information:

    • Job title
    • Beginning and ending dates of employment
    • Wage/salary being paid
    • Number of hours per week to be worked
    • Place of employment
    • Brief description of work

     5. Once processed, you will receive a new I-20 with CPT authorization.   Please note that CPT cannot be backdated.


Additional CPT Information:

  • You must have an offer of employment to apply for CPT and the dates must follow the dates listed above.
  • Please note that even non-paid off campus internships require CPT authorization.
  • Part-time CPT is defined as working 20 hours or less per week and it does not affect Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Full-time CPT is defined as working 21 or more hours per week. If you use 12 months of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for OPT (this is very unlikely).
  • If you are working on campus (student employment or a Graduate Assistantship), you are only allowed to work part-time on CPT.
  • If you change employers while on CPT, you need to file a new CPT application. CPT is employer specific; you can only work for the company that you have authorization to work for on your I-20.
  • You are authorized for specific dates of employment on your I-20. You may not begin before the start date or continue working after the end date.  If you expect that you will need to work past your end date, contact the Immigration Specialist.  If you work past the end date without approval, you will be working illegally and could lose future immigration benefits.
  • CPT is authorized for a semester at a time.
  • If you are completing an internship with your department on-campus, you do not need to apply for CPT.


*F-1 students on full or part time CPT during the school year must be registered as a full time student.  Students may not take a reduced course load and then apply for CPT.  There are two exceptions to this:

  1. When a program requires that all students who are done with all required academic courses proceed to an internship
  2. When a student is in his/her last semester and is completing the balance of credits for the degree