Applying for CPT

Step 1: Meet with your academic advisor to discuss if and how your proposed employment might fit into a course in your major (e.g., internship or independent study course) or how it might be tied to your dissertation/thesis.

Note: Mason School of Business, Law School, and Washington Office Programs students, please refer to the Business, Law, and Washington Office Programs CPT Procedures handout for additional information.

Step 2: Once offered a job, get written confirmation from the prospective employer. The job offer letter must be on company letterhead or from an official company email account and must include:

  • title of position and a brief description of duties
  • location of work
  • start and end dates of employment, and number of hours of work per week.
  • if your internship will have periods of part-time and full-time (over 20 hours/week) employment, the job offer letter must specify the dates for each period

If some of this information is not included in the original offer letter or email, an email from the employer with the additional information is also acceptable.

Step 3: Enroll in the appropriate course that fulfills the CPT requirements.

Step 4: Complete the CPT Application Form. Before submitting, be sure your academic advisor is aware of your internship and plans, as they will receive an email with a link to an online form that they must complete before we can approve your CPT. Allow at least one week before starting work for processing.

Authorization for CPT is noted directly on a new I-20, and you will receive an email once it is ready.

Important Reminders

  • Do not begin working until your CPT is approved and you reach the start date. If you wish to continue work beyond the expiration of your CPT, you must apply to extend it before it expires. CPT is NOT granted retroactively.
  • Working at a CPT position at any time outside the authorized CPT period (even for 1 day!) is a violation of F-1 status and your immigration record will be terminated. You may be required to leave the U.S. and your future employment eligibility (e.g., OPT) and academic program may be impacted. 

Social Security

If you do not have a social security number, you may apply for one based on your CPT authorization. You will have to wait to apply until at least 30 days prior to the start date of the CPT. Read more about social security numbers.