A Comprehensive Guide to Day 1 CPT: What International Students Need to Know

Day 1 CPT

Day 1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a unique opportunity for international students studying in the United States to gain practical work experience directly related to their academic programs from the first day of their studies. This article provides an in-depth guide to Day 1 CPT, including its definition, benefits, eligibility criteria, application process, and important considerations for students.

What is Day 1 CPT?

Day 1 CPT allows eligible F-1 visa students to engage in paid or unpaid employment as part of their academic curriculum from the start of their program. This practical training must be integral to the student’s degree program and directly related to their field of study.

Benefits of Day 1 CPT

Day 1 CPT enables students to begin gaining relevant work experience immediately, which can significantly enhance their resumes and career prospects upon graduation.

Financial Support

Engaging in CPT can provide financial benefits, allowing students to earn income while completing their studies, thus helping to offset tuition and living expenses.

Academic Integration

CPT is integrated with the academic curriculum, providing students with a practical application of classroom theories and concepts, which enriches their overall learning experience.

Eligibility Criteria for Day 1 CPT

Students must be enrolled in a degree program at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved institution that offers Day 1 CPT as part of its curriculum.

Academic Requirements

The student’s program must require practical training as an integral part of the curriculum. This requirement should be clearly stated in the program’s official description.

Maintaining F-1 Visa Status

Students must maintain lawful F-1 visa status and comply with all relevant immigration regulations, including full-time enrollment and adherence to work authorization limits.

How to Apply for Day 1 CPT

Students should first consult with their institution’s DSO to discuss eligibility and understand the specific requirements for Day 1 CPT.

Application Submission

Submit a CPT application to the DSO, including a detailed job offer letter from the employer, a job description, and a proposed start and end date for the employment.

Authorization Approval

Once the DSO approves the application, the student will receive an updated Form I-20 with the CPT authorization noted. This form is necessary for legally commencing employment.

Important Considerations for Day 1 CPT

Students engaging in CPT must adhere to the work hour limitations set by immigration regulations, which typically restrict part-time work to 20 hours per week during academic terms.

Employment Impact on Studies

Balancing work and studies can be challenging. Students should ensure that their CPT employment does not negatively impact their academic performance.

Future Employment Opportunities

Day 1 CPT participation can affect future work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students should understand how their CPT usage might impact their eligibility for post-graduation work opportunities.


Day 1 CPT offers international students a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience related to their academic studies from the outset of their programs. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and key considerations, students can make informed decisions about participating in Day 1 CPT. This program not only enhances students’ educational experiences but also prepares them for successful careers by providing early exposure to the professional world.

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