F1 Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) refers to authorized off-campus employment which is an "integral part" of the institution's "established curriculum." It may take place only during the study program; it may not continue once the study program is complete. To qualify as a CPT opportunity, the employment must be required by the student's curriculum (a rare possibility for graduate students) or must be obtained through a cooperative education course (an option in the undergraduate curriculum in a few departments).
CPT may be either part-time (20 hours per week maximum) or full-time (over 20 hours per week). Part-time CPT is limitless and has no effect upon eligibility for Optional Practical Training. Full-time CPT is also limitless, but, as soon as it accumulates to one year's employment, it cancels all OPT eligibility.
Because CPT is subject to widely varying interpretations and potential abuse, New Mexico Tech takes a conservative view. CPT can be authorized only for a specific job with a particular employer for a specific length of time. It involves the approval and participation of a Tech faculty member, who agrees to monitor the student's progress. For undergraduates, CPT may be considered for a Cooperative Education opportunity (a "co-op" program) if the student's major department offers a course in Cooperative Education. For graduate students, CPT authorization is restricted to off-campus research employment which is required in order to complete the graduate student's thesis, independent study, or dissertation.
CPT requires consultation with and signatures of the academic advisor, the employer, and the international advisor. For graduate students, all three sections (student, advisor, and employer) on the CPT "Agreement" form must be completed and signed. The exact job description, how it is related to the student's study program, the dates and hours of employment, the identity of the job supervisor, the level of compensation, and the number of hours of registration must all be worked out in advance. For undergraduates, the co-op course must be listed in the catalog in the student's department, the "Cooperative Education Agreement" between the employer and New Mexico Tech must be in effect through the Career Services Office, and an offer letter from the company must specify the job, the dates and hours to b e worked, and the compensation. The student's advisor must write in support of this activity, explaining how it relates to the student's major field and how it will enhance the student's degree program.
To be eligible to engage in CPT, you generally must have been in full-time study for at least one academic year. Please consult Student Affairs (Fidel Center 2nd Floor) for exceptions to this rule and for registration requirements in each case. Once approved by the international advisor, CPT authorization is entered into SEVIS and a new I-20 is created. It is a simple notification process; BCIS is not involved, and no EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is required.
Caution #1: CPT employments must cease before the date of degree completion. Graduate students should be aware that degree completion may actually occur before the graduation date at the end of the semester. Continuing CPT employment beyond the actual completion date is illegal and is a violation of F1 status, a violation which cannot be remedied by reinstatement.
Caution #2: Co-op/CPT experience for undergraduates, while potentially valuable, will delay your degree completion date. Be aware that no extension of the I-20 is permitted for this delay. In addition, co-op will most likely not prove to be a source of income sufficient to help with expenses when you return to full-time coursework.
Curricular Practical Training is a complicated subject. Please contact Student Affairs for a thorough discussion.