The purpose of practical training is to allow F-1 students the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in academic programs to a practical work experience. There are two different types of practical training: curricular practical training and optional practical training. This handout discusses the rules and procedures that govern curricular practical training. For information on F-1 optional practical training, please see the UCIE handout, Information on F-1 Optional Practical Training. (Please note that students in English language programs are not eligible for either type of practical training.)
The Immigration Service defines curricular practical training as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practice which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
You are eligible to apply for (Curricular) Practical Training employment authorization at the UCIE office if you meet the following qualifications:
- Have maintained lawful full-time student status throughout your studies a WSU
- Have otherwise maintained your "student visa status" for a minimum of nine consecutive months.
- You are seeking:
- One semester of full- time employment or
- Continuous part-time (20 Hours or less) employment n a job related to your field of study.
UCIE can authorize curricular practical training for you if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment meets one of the three following conditions:
- The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum. (There are only a few academic programs at WSU that include a required period of off campus employment of all degree candidates.)
- The training employment must result in the awarding of academic credit or the training will be available thorugh the WSU Career Services Co-Op Program. Included in this category is employment for an internship or "practicum" course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience. (Such courses are rare at WSU.) In both of these cases you must be registered for the course during the period that you are working under curricular practical training authorization. Both graduate and undergraduate students must normally first be in F-1 status for nine months before they are eligible to engage in curricular practical training based on registration for a credit bearing course.
- Students in dissertation status where the training opportunity is an absolutely necessary component of the student's research without which the dissertation cannot be completed may be authorized to undertake curricular practical training. A letter from the student's dissertation advisor explaining in detail the relationship between the proposed employment and the student's dissertation research must be provided.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time
Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are enrolled for classes is considered part-time curricular practical training. The employment authorization written on the back of your I-20 ID copy will specify permission to engage in part-time training and you must limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training, but you must be simultaneously enrolled in full time courses to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time curricular practical training, and full time class registration is not required during authorized full-time CPT periods. The employment authorization on your I-20 ID copy will specify permission to participate in full-time training. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time curricular practical training, however if you participate in twelve months or more of curricular practical training you will not be eligible for post completion practical training. Student in the co-op program must alternate full-time work semesters with full time study semesters.
Social Security Numbers
If you plan to work in the U.S. you will need a valid Social Security number (your WSU ID is not a valid Social Security Number). To apply, please come to UCIE to get an authorization form to take to the local Social Security Office. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.
In general F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for less than five years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as F.I.C.A. tax). You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need more information about the F-1 social security tax exemption, please contact UCIE. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state and local.
Failure to Comply with Employment Regulations
It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your student status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the U.S., we urge you to consult with the responsible UCIE staff members.
Your first step is to complete the application form, which can be found below. Next, turn in the complete forms to the UCIE office. A UCIE advisor will evaluate your application, and if you are eligible, authorize either part-time or full-time curricular practical training on your I-20 ID Copy.
You may begin curricular practical training only after it is authorized by UCIE as curricular practical training does not require approval from the Office of Immigration and Naturalization Services. You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work. To continue employment (without authorization) would be a violation of your non-immigrant student status and would render you illegally present in the U.S. and beyond the ability of UCIE or the Immigration Office to regularize your status.
Please allow at least two weeks for your application to be processed.