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F1 CPT Rules: ICE, SEVP, Federal Regulations References- 1 Year, Day 1

Many F1 Students on Day 1 CPT from Univ. of Farmington, which is a fake school created by federal agents, were recently arrested for not maintaining F1 status and engaging in unauthorized employment, etc. In the past, we have written articles that tells if you can get CPT from Day 1 for second masters, but it does not give full picture. In this article, we will cover details on Curricular Practical Training(CPT), what is allowed and what is not allowed quoting official references from ICE, SEVP and Federal Regulations.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)  ? Main intention of CPT ? Who Gives it ?

Curricular practical training, popularly known as CPT ( Read CPT vs. OPT Difference ) ,  is given to F1 visa international students, who are enrolled in full time degree program,  to pursue practical work or training in the form of an internship, co-op or work study program.   Usually, it is part of the program curriculum and done for credit. You need to pay for the credit at school, when you enroll for it. You can do it as part time (20 hours) or full time ( 40 Hours) as authorized by DSO. Your International student advisor/ Designated School Official ( DSO) is the one who authorizes your CPT and you need approval of the department, carrer services to work on CPT. Check below CPT Official Reference and screenshot.
General Guideline on CPT - Curricular Practical Training

When can you work on CPT ? After One Academic Year or from Day 1 ?

The general rule for CPT is that, it has to be part of the established program curriculum that you are pursuing and it is usually given after one academic year. There are exceptions to this one year requirement : if you are part of a Graduate Degree/ Master’s program and if your degree program curriculum requires immediate participation in curricular practical training, then you can get waiver of the one year requirement to get CPT.  Your CPT has to authorized by DSO at school. See below screenshot and check Official CPT Federal Regulation Reference  Day 1 CPT or Exceptions to 1 year academic Requirement for CPT - Govt Publication Reference

 What is ICE and SEVP Guidance of CPT ?  Need One Year or Can get from Day 1 ?

The SEVP and ICE guidance on CPT is same as in federal regulations mentioned above. SEVP clearly mentions the same clause stating that, in general F1 students must be enrolled for one academic year before they are eligible for CPT. The only exception for this one year requirement is for graduate students, only if their degree program requires immediate CPT requirement.  So, technically, if a school designs a graduate program with CPT requirement as part of the program curriculum from Day 1 and DSO authorizes it properly, you can work from Day 1 CPT.  In general, most of the reputed schools does not offer such programs, having said that, there are schools that offer such programs. There is no restriction on how many hours you can work on CPT, but if you work for 12 months of Full time CPT, you will NOT get OPT (optional practical training). Also, there is no restriction on how much you can get paid during CPT. Check the official ICE SEVP Reference on CPT and below screenshot

ICE - CPT Requirements - One academic Year vs Day 1 CPT Requirements Official ReferenceWhat are the key requirements to maintain Proper F1 student status on CPT ?

The key requirements for all the CPT programs is that you need maintain your full time F1 student status by being enrolled as full time student, attending classes and not participating in any unauthorized activities. You need to pass all your classes and also maintain certain GPA as needed by your school. You cannot drop classes during semester without talking to DSO. See below screenshot and check out DHS.gov Official Reference on Student StatusMaintain F1 Student Status Details

 Beware of Misleading Information from Day 1 CPT Universities

Below is the screenshot from Harrisburg University(http://harrisburgu.edu/curricular-practical-training-cpt-at-hu/ )  that offers CPT from Day 1 as part of their degree program. If you read the text in green and yellow, it is very misleading, where it tells that you will be eligible to apply for OPT after 12 months of full time CPT. It may sound politically correct to some, but it is very misleading for students. The rule from ICE and SEVP is that you do not get OPT (Optional Practical Training), if you do 12 months of full time CPT.  So, beware of such promises that some of these schools do. If you are doing something like that you are considered violating F1 status and engaged in unauthorized acitivies.  In general, most of the reputed schools do not have Day 1 CPT programs. Sometimes, you may get away, but at times, you may feel the pain, when you go for H1B visa with USCIS…With the Aug 9th, 2018 F1 Visa Unlawful Presence memo, it is more critical to think twice as you may end up with 3 or 10 year bar to enter US on any visa.Harrisburg CPT Rules - Wrong Info on OPT Screenshot

Do I get up to 12 months of CPT for every masters Degree ? Can you do 12 months of CPT in Second Masters ? What is ICE Guidance ? USCIS interpretation ?

As per the official ICE Rule, you get only 12 months of Practical Training for every higher education level. Meaning, you get only 12 months of practical training  for Bachelor’s degree, 12 months for Master’s degree and 12 months for PhD. It does not specifically tell, if that 12 months is restricted to OPT, CPT or both. It is very much a grey area and subject to how someone interprets it. This was historically used to interpret for OPT only. ( check Do you get 12 month OPT for second Masters ). In the past some of it was taken for granted and was not questioned by USCIS. But, in recent times, USCIS has started to question it and even issued RFEs, denials for Change of Status in some cases. So, be careful when you use CPT in second masters for 12 months, if you have already used CPT in first masters…Discuss with an attorney or DSO on the same to get more clarification.
Change in Degree Levels and CPT OPT Eligibility and Criteria information

What are your thoughts on the CPT rules ? Day 1 CPT ?


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  2. Hi,

    I completed my first masters and I got only one year opt. I started my second master’s degree in a full-time course with Day 1 CPT from October 2017- till date. Will I come under the unlawful rule?
    Can anyone help me out?

  3. Hi,
    I have completed my First Masters in Regulatory Affairs in Drugs,Biologics and Medical Devices and currently on my post-completion opt (1year) I don’t have stem extension.My employer is going to apply for my H1-B but my opt is getting ended on May22,2019 and I had used up the 90 days of unemployment as I was employed on Aug 20,2018 ( opt start May23,2018-opt end May 22,2019).My job is aligned to the masters which I had completed.I am thinking of doing second masters in Biotech from Harrisburg University (Day1 CPT) as I work in Biotech company and to maintain my visa status.Will this cause a problem if my H1-B get picked up ??? Even if my doing my second masters with a job aligning to it??Will this lead to unlawful presence

  4. Situation: I completed my First Master’s Degree and completed OPT, STEM OPT extension which expired on Jan 3rd 2019. I started my second master’s degree in full time course with Day 1 CPT on Jan 4th 2019

    1. According to the unlawful presence will it affect my status
    2. Do I have to terminate my CPT before Febraury 5th 2019 to not to fall in unlawful presence
    3. I have the option to transfer to H4. Should I go through the consular process to get H4 stamped in india before Feb 5th 2019 or Can I apply Change of Status within the usa since I am terminating my CPT as I have valid F1 status.
    4. What are the chances of getting my H4 accepted in india or Change of Status
    5. According to the unlawful presence memo, will the 180 days count from Jan 4th 2019 (CPT Start Date) if in that case can I travel to india to get my H4 stamped before 180 days period.


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