Navigating Day 1 CPT: Essential Insights for International Students

Day 1 CPT

Day 1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a unique program that allows international students on F-1 visas to begin practical training related to their field of study from the first day of their academic program. This article provides a detailed exploration of Day 1 CPT, including its definition, benefits, eligibility criteria, application steps, and key considerations for students.

What is Day 1 CPT?

Day 1 CPT is an option for international students to engage in practical training, such as internships or cooperative education, immediately upon starting their academic program. This type of CPT is integrated into the curriculum and must be directly related to the student’s major. It allows students to gain valuable work experience while completing their studies.

Regulatory Background

Day 1 CPT is regulated by U.S. immigration laws under the F-1 visa program. The training must be an essential part of the academic program and authorized by the school’s designated school official (DSO). The authorization is recorded in the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and reflected on the student’s Form I-20.

Benefits of Day 1 CPT

Day 1 CPT provides students with the opportunity to start gaining practical experience in their field from the outset of their studies. This early engagement helps students apply classroom knowledge to real-world settings and develop professional skills early in their academic career.

Enhanced Academic Experience

By integrating practical training with academic coursework, Day 1 CPT enhances the overall learning experience. Students can contextualize their theoretical studies with hands-on experience, which can lead to a deeper understanding of their field.

Improved Job Prospects

Having practical experience from the beginning of their academic program makes students more attractive to future employers. It demonstrates their ability to manage both academic and professional commitments and equips them with skills that are highly valued in the job market.

Eligibility Criteria for Day 1 CPT

Eligibility for Day 1 CPT depends on the policies of the student’s institution. Some universities offer Day 1 CPT as part of specific programs designed to integrate practical training with academic studies. Students should check with their school’s international student office for specific eligibility requirements.

Academic Criteria

Students must be enrolled in a degree program that includes practical training as an integral part of the curriculum. They must maintain full-time enrollment and be in good academic standing. The training must be directly related to the student’s major.

Employment Conditions

Day 1 CPT can be authorized for part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic term and full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during breaks or vacations. The employment must be directly related to the student’s field of study and approved by the school’s DSO.

Application Process for Day 1 CPT

Students interested in Day 1 CPT should begin by consulting with their designated school official (DSO) to understand the eligibility requirements and application process.

Obtaining Employment

Students must secure a job offer that is directly related to their field of study. The job offer should include details such as job description, start date, and duration of employment. The employer must be willing to work with the institution to ensure compliance with CPT regulations.

Submitting Documentation

Students need to submit the required CPT authorization forms, including a CPT request form, job offer letter, and proof of enrollment in a course or program that requires practical training.

SEVIS Authorization

The DSO will review the application and, if approved, update the student’s SEVIS record with the CPT authorization. The student will receive a new Form I-20 with the CPT endorsement, which must be provided to the employer.

Key Considerations for Day 1 CPT

Students must maintain their F-1 visa status while participating in Day 1 CPT. This includes adhering to work hour limitations, maintaining full-time enrollment, and ensuring the employment is directly related to their field of study.

Impact on OPT Eligibility

Participating in more than 12 months of full-time CPT can impact eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students should discuss their plans with their DSO to understand the implications and make informed decisions about their practical training options.


Day 1 CPT offers international students a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience from the very beginning of their academic program. By understanding the benefits, eligibility criteria, application process, and key considerations, students can navigate the Day 1 CPT process effectively and enhance their educational and professional development. Day 1 CPT provides early career exposure, enhances academic learning, and improves job prospects, making it a crucial component of the international student experience in the United States.


Jessie Wade

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