Day 1 CPT for International Students in the US

One of the Best International Students Career Development Solutions

In this Guide

Day 1 CPT provides a valuable chance for international students to acquire practical work experience in the U.S. while continuing their education. By familiarizing themselves with the Day 1 CPT program's legality, benefits, eligibility, risks, and application process, students can make well-informed decisions and seize this exceptional opportunity.

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Part I

What is CPT?

The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) offers international students the opportunity to study in the United States and gain employment authorization for internships. This opportunity is available both during their academic journey and after completing their studies. These internships serve as a valuable source of practical work experience, enhancing students' skills within their chosen academic fields.

The USCIS provides two distinct avenues for employment authorization for students studying on student visas in the U.S.: Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT allows students to work while pursuing their studies, with authorization primarily granted by their educational institution. This enables students to receive practical training in their chosen classes. In contrast, OPT provides post-graduation employment opportunities, requiring authorization from the USCIS, and allows students to engage in work related to their field of study.

The differences between CPT and OPT

The differences between CPT and OPT

Reference link: F-1 CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT) | US Department of Homeland Security

Part 2

What is Day 1 CPT?

"Day 1 CPT", "CPT from Day 1" or β€œImmediate CPT” is a specific rule in some U.S. master's or doctoral programs that allows international students to start Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) immediately. This means they can begin an internship or work right from the beginning of their program (it’s usually the first day of the program). Institutions that offer this type of program are known as "Day 1 CPT Universities."

It's important to note that Day 1 CPT isn't universally available across all institutions and programs. Prospective students should diligently research their universities and program policies before applying, as eligibility for Day 1 CPT varies based on these factors.

Please reach out to us if you would like to find out more about universities and programs that are qualified for Day 1 CPT, and we will find the best university and program for you.

Some of Most Popular Day 1 CPT Universities:

Part 3

Is Day 1 CPT legal?

Day 1 CPT is completely legal. According to the regulations set by the immigration authorities, students holding an F1 visa can participate in internships during their academic studies or after graduation. This initiative aims to encourage students to accumulate work experience through internships and to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during their academic tenure. The USCIS delegates the authority to formulate CPT policies to inspanidual universities, which includes decisions on whether to allow off-campus CPT internships during the first year, as well as the option for full-time or part-time CPT internships. These policies are determined independently by each institution.

However, there are also specific requirements that need to be fulfilled to ensure compliance and avoid any potential risks.

  • First and foremost, students who participate in CPT must ensure they maintain their full-time F1 student status and adhere to the attendance requirements set by their universities. Enrolling in 6 to 9 credit hours of courses per semester (quarter) is sufficient to meet the academic requirements for graduate students and fulfill the criteria for a full course of study.

  • Additionally, the internship/work that students undertake should be closely aligned with their area of study.

  • Finally, students must remember to submit their CPT application to the university and obtain approval before they can officially start their internship.

Part 4

Who Can Benefit from Day 1 CPT?

πŸ§‘β€πŸŽ“ International students whose OPT is nearing expiration, but H-1B has not yet been selected.

If your OPT is about to expire and you're facing challenges with changing your status, such as your employer not being willing to sponsor an H-1B visa, not being selected in the H-1B lottery, experiencing job loss or unemployment during the grace period, or simply being uncertain about your next career move, considering enrolling in a Day 1 CPT program could be a viable option. This allows you to maintain your valid F1 status, acquiring new specialized knowledge, continue your internship/job, and pursue applying for or processing your status change or job search within the United States.

😫 H1B holders who got laid off.

Day 1 CPT is a viable option for H1B holders who have been laid off, allowing them to maintain legal status in the U.S. by enrolling in an F1 student visa program. It offers a pathway for career transition and skill enhancement. The flexibility and practical orientation of Day 1 CPT programs can help in avoiding employment gaps and alleviating financial burdens. It's a strategic solution that aligns with educational and career goals, providing opportunities for repositioning in the U.S. job market.

πŸ‘« F2 visa holders who wish to study and gain practical experience in the U.S.

Day 1 CPT offers a pathway for F2 visa holders to both study and gain practical experience. By enrolling in a Day 1 CPT program, they can switch to an F1 student visa. This provides an opportunity to acquire valuable work experience directly related to their field of study, enhancing employability and career prospects. It also aligns with the goal of pursuing American education while enjoying real-life work experience.

πŸ‘©πŸ»β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘¨πŸ» H4 holders without an EAD card but wish to start a career in the U.S.

Day 1 CPT enables H4 holders to gain practical experience related to their field of study, enhancing employability and career prospects. Day 1 CPT's alignment with real-life work experiences makes it a strategic solution for those seeking to enter the U.S. job market. It not only builds professional skills but also expands networking opportunities, potentially leading to future employment.

🌍 Foreign Professionals who want to work while studying in America.

Day 1 CPT is an attractive option for foreign professionals wanting to work while studying in America. The practical orientation of Day 1 CPT programs ensures relevant work experience, enhancing career prospects. The flexibility of these programs accommodates the balance of work and study, while networking opportunities open doors to future career growth. Additionally, the experience gained may enhance eligibility for other employment-based visas, and working while studying can offset expenses.

Part 5

Eligibility and Requirements of Day 1 CPT


  • Student Status: The student must be an international graduate in the USA, enrolled in a Master's or Doctoral Degree program.
  • Full-time Student Enrollment: The student must be enrolled full-time in a course of study.
  • Compliance with Curriculum: The job responsibility must be related to students’ academic program.
  • CPT Approval: Students should only start internships/working after their CPT has been approved by the school and follow the CPT start day on their I-20s.

Requirements for CPT application:

  1. Keep A Good Academic Standing: Keep your cumulative GPA above 3.0.
  2. Secure A Job Offer: While requesting authorization on CPT, must have a job offer.
  3. Major Area of Studies: The employment training is only allowed to be done in the Major of the student's education.
  4. Apply Before the Deadline: Most universities set a deadline of CPT application. Please avoid being late.
Part 6

Risks and Precautions of Day 1 CPT

While Day 1 CPT is legal, it's essential to choose a reliable university and follow the rules to avoid potential risks, such as visa renewal issues. Planning ahead and seeking professional guidance can mitigate these risks. Get helps>

a. Status Change Risk

It is uncommon that Day 1 CPT will impact the approval of H1b visa. However, when an international student currently working through Day 1 CPT and is then granted H1b visa, the USCIS may request for extra evidence (RFE) to prove that the student has been maintaining legal status. This is why you should not work without a CPT status.

For example, if a STEM master's graduate has used up the 3-year work authorization through OPT, and then enrolls in another master's program with Day 1 CPT, this student may be requested to provide evidence that the second master's program requires attendance onsite (instead of 100% online) after being selected for the H1b visa.

Typically, when the extra evidence is requested, the school will explain the situation with a letter. In this letter, the school will state that the work experience with CPT is mandatory for the completion of the master's program, and the student is required to start working on the first day of class. Please see below for an excerpt from the Westcliff University’s student handbook, which explicitly states that all the master's programs must complete an internship prior to graduation.

If the school is able to provide such letter, plus the transcript, attendance record and other supporting material, the USCIS will likely approve the case based on our experience. However, USCIS may reject the status change request in the US and ask the student to apply for the H1b visa outside the US.

Additionally, USCIS normally will not request extra evidence if a college graduate attends a master's program and apply for Day 1 CPT or a master's graduate attends a doctoral program and apply for Day 1 CPT.

WU CPT Student Handbook

Attached is a figure from page 32 of the official school catalog
(Westcliff University)

b. F-1 visa renewal risks

Although the Day 1 CPT program is established under the framework of US immigrations laws and regulations, which is legal and compliant, it could not grant a student to work excessively in terms of time. If the student works excessively, the visa officer may believe that the student's intention to enter the US is to maintain a job or to find a new job while renewing F-1 visa. In this case, it is generally recommended to apply for the H1b visa and then leave the US. If the F-1 visa has already expired and the students is required to obtain a visa outside the US, it is important to contact the school advisor or immigration lawyers in advance to prepare all the necessary visa materials and questions from the visa officer.

Mastering Day 1 CPT: Work & Study Like a Pro!

Part 7

How to apply for Day 1 CPT?

  1. Students need to have a job offer letter before submitting their applications (Click here to view Top CPT Employers in the U.S.)

  2. Students need to register for a program that requires CPT, submit the CPT application prior to the school's deadline along with the offer letter and a CPT agreement between the school and the employer (it may be required by some schools)

  3. Wait for the CPT application to be approved by the school and receive the new I-20. Note that students must wait until the CPT takes effect before start working.

  4. Before the end of the each semester, pay attention to the renewal email from school and apply for the CPT renewal on time

Part 8

Choosing the Right Day 1 CPT University and Program

🚨 Accreditation and Legitimacy: Ensure that the university is accredited by a recognized accrediting body. Accreditation ensures that the institution meets specific educational standards and that your degree will be recognized by employers and other educational institutions.

πŸ“‘ Program Relevance: Choose a program that aligns with your career goals and field of interest. Look for courses that offer practical experience and opportunities to work on real-world projects. (➑️ View complete Day 1 CPT programs list)

πŸ“ Location: Consider the university's location in relation to your current location or potential job opportunities, cost of living, and your lifestyle preferences. (➑️ Find Day 1 CPT universities near you)

✈️ On-Site Requirements: Some universities may require on-site attendance for certain classes or activities. Understand these requirements to ensure they fit your schedule and preferences.

πŸ’° Tuition and Financial Aid: Compare tuition costs and available financial aid options. Look for scholarships or work-study opportunities that may be available to international students. (➑️ Find cheapest Day 1 CPT universities)

βš–οΈ Compliance with Immigration Regulations: Make sure the university complies with all USCIS regulations related to Day 1 CPT. Consult with an immigration lawyer or expert if needed.

πŸ™Œ Support Services for International Students: Look for universities that offer robust support services for international students, including orientation programs, counseling, and assistance with legal and cultural adjustments.

❗️By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose the right Day 1 CPT University and Program that aligns with your educational, professional, and personal goals. If you're unsure, consider seeking free professional guidance from who specializes in international student admissions and Day 1 CPT.

Part 9


Can I travel to my home country on Day 1 CPT?

Yes, but specific guidelines must be followed for travel.

+ View more about traveling on Day 1 CPT

Can I do day 1 CPT on H1B?

No, CPT is a benefit for only F1 full-time students.

Can I Work Full-Time with Day 1 CPT?

Yes, Day 1 CPT allows you to work full-time, but it must be directly related to your field of study.

What Happens if I Start Working Without CPT Approval?

Working without CPT approval can lead to legal issues and may affect current F1 status and future visa applications.

Can I Renew My Day 1 CPT?

Yes, you can apply for renewal, but you must adhere to the school's requirements and regulations.

Is Day 1 CPT Available in All Universities?

No, Day 1 CPT is not universally available across all institutions. Researching universities and program policies before applying is essential.

What If My F-1 Visa Expires During Day 1 CPT?

Visa expiration doesn’t affect your Day 1 CPT as long as you stay in the US and your I-20 is valid?

Will I get a EAD card for my Day 1 CPT?

No, your work authorization is on your updated CPT I-20.

Can I Pursue Another Master's Program with Day 1 CPT After Graduating from One?
Can I Pursue Another doctorate Program with Day 1 CPT After Graduating from One?
Can I Travel Outside the U.S. While on Day 1 CPT?

Yes, while traveling on Day 1 CPT can be complex and may lead to re-entry issues. It's advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or university DSO before planning any travel.

How Long Can I Stay on Day 1 CPT?

The duration of Day 1 CPT depends on your academic program and university policies. It's essential to follow the guidelines provided by your institution. Consult with us for more details.

Can I Change Employers While on Day 1 CPT?

Yes, you can change employers, but you must notify your university and follow the proper procedures to update your CPT authorization.

What Happens if I Lose My Job While on Day 1 CPT?

Losing a job on Day 1 CPT requires immediate notification to your university, and you may need to find a new job related to your field of study quickly.

Can I Use Day 1 CPT for an Online Program?

Day 1 CPT is associated with physical universities, and using it for an fully online program may lead to scrutiny. Consult with us for more details.

Is Day 1 CPT Available for Undergraduate Students?

Day 1 CPT is generally offered to master's or doctoral students.

Can I Extend My Day 1 CPT If I Change My Major?

Changing majors may affect your Day 1 CPT status.

How Does Day 1 CPT Affect My H1B Visa Application?

Day 1 CPT may have implications for future H1B applications, especially if used extensively. Consult with us for more details.

Can I Pursue a Ph.D. While on Day 1 CPT?

It's possible to pursue a Ph.D. while on Day 1 CPT, but specific rules and guidelines must be followed.

Is There a Fee for Applying to Day 1 CPT?

Universities may have different policies regarding fees for CPT applications. Consult with us for more details.

Can I Do Part-Time Work on Day 1 CPT?

Yes, part-time work is possible on Day 1 CPT, but it must align with your academic program and university regulations.



2) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Practical Training
3) Code of Federal Regulations: Title 8 Chapter I Subchapter B Part 214

Note: All the information above are time sensitive. We recommend contacting professional lawyers or the school DSO before making any decisions. None of the information in this article is intended to provide legal advice.

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