Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is eligible?

  • Current F-1 status/visa holders or those who will gain the status/visa before CPT begins.

  • Must be enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (3 quarters) before CPT begins.

  • Students in a graduate program which requires immediate CPT for a required internship or applied project are exempt from meeting the one academic year enrollment requirement.

Will time spent at another school or as non-F-1 status/visa holder count toward meeting the one academic year enrollment requirement?

Yes! As long as there are no gaps in enrollment, previous enrollment may count towards the eligibility requirement. Students should provide an unofficial transcript or non-F-1 status/visa documents for verification.

CPT Positions

What type of position qualifies for CPT?

  • Employment

  • Internship 

  • Cooperative Education

  • Applied project

Should I get CPT approval for unpaid internships?

For any off-campus positions, students are strongly encouraged to receive CPT approval prior to starting positions for the following reasons: 1) Better academic support, 2) Can accept form of compensations if offered, 3) Proof of CPT authorization available.

Am I allowed to engage in unpaid internships?

  • In general, students should not participate in internships that are related to their major and unpaid, especially if other people are being paid to do the same work.

  • Students should refer to the Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act ( by U.S. Department of Labor before accepting unpaid offers.

How many hours per week can I work with CPT?

When applying for CPT, students can select an option to be approved for part time (20 hours or less) or full time (more than 20 hours) CPT.

If I register for an internship class for a particular quarter, when is the earliest possible start date and the latest possible end date for the internship?

  • CPT can start as early as the day after the previous quarter ends and continue until the day before the following quarter starts. For example, if you have a summer internship, the internship can start as early as the day after spring quarter ends and continue as late as the day before autumn quarter starts.

  • Students should consult with International Student Advisor if CPT dates do not correspond with quarter dates.

  • CPT start date and end date should be supported by your academic advisor.

  • However, if you are participating in CPT during your final quarter, your internship and CPT end date must be the last day of the quarter.



Which internship classes should I register for if I want to apply for CPT?

Students should register for an internship offered in their majors. Some examples of classes are: TCSS 701, TEE 497, TINFO 497, TCOM 490, TBUS 468, TACCT 601 and TCSL 570.

How many internship class credits should I register for?

Internship class credit requirements depend on a student’s major, so consult with your academic advisor. Students should register for at least one internship class credit unless internship is required to graduate by their majors.

Do I have to enroll full time while I am engaged in CPT?

In order to maintain F-1 student status, students must enroll full time each quarter except during their final quarter, they are permitted to enroll part-time to complete their graduation requirements.

Can I do CPT during my final quarter?

IYes, as long as you have not met all graduation requirements. In other words, if the internship is not required to graduate, students must have other required class(es) to take during the final quarter.

Your CPT course cannot be your only class during your final quarter. You must register for one other course, and that course cannot be 100% online.

How do international student advisors verify that the internship is an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to the student’s major area of study?

  • An internship is not required but optional for most majors at UW Tacoma.

  • By registering for an internship course, it shows that the academic department supports your internship and that it is related to your degree.

  • A support letter from an academic advisor will verify that an internship is appropriate for CPT.


What items are required to apply for CPT?

Generally, the following items are required:
  1. An internship offer letter (
  2. Registration for an internship class reflected on class schedule
  3. Support language from an academic/graduate program advisor
  4. Submission of online CPT Request (

Who approves CPT?

CPT is approved by international student advisors.

How long does it take for CPT approval?

After students submit a completed request (no missing items), a CPT-approved I-20 will be issued within 5 business days.

When is the deadline to apply for CPT?

In almost all cases, students must register for an internship class to gain CPT approval. Students should pay attention to Academic Calendar ( for the “Last day to add a course through MyUW.” The deadline is usually the third Friday of the quarter.

Students cannot begin CPT until a CPT approved I-20 is issued.

My internship is starting but I have not been approved for CPT. Can I begin working?

Absolutely not! Students can only begin CPT after receiving a CPT approved I-20 from an International Student Advisor. The International Student Advisor cannot approve CPT for past dates but only the day of or in the future.

Working at your internship before your CPT is approved is considered unauthorized work, which is a violation of your F-1 visa/status and can result in the denial of future work authorization benefits (ie, OPT, H-1b, green card, etc.)

Changes After Approval

What if I want to change from part-time CPT to full-time CPT?

Your CPT approved I-20 must be updated. Contact your international student advisor.

What should I do if my internship ends early?

Your CPT end date must be shortened. Contact international student advisor.

What should I do if my CPT employer or location change?

CPT is authorized for a specific employer and location that is printed on your I-20. Contact international student advisor if this info needs to be updated.

Can I extend CPT?

Normally CPT is approved on a quarterly basis. If you wish to extend CPT beyond the end date printed on I-20, you should contact international student advisor.

Can I withdraw from an internship class?

CPT approval is contingent on the internship class registration for most cases. Withdrawing from an internship class may affect your full-time enrollment status. Contact your international student advisor to discuss your options.

If you withdraw from your internship class without notifying your international student advisor, it is a violation of your F-1 visa/status.


Is there any effect on OPT eligibility if I engage in CPT?

Part-time CPT will have no effect on OPT eligibility. Students who engage in full-time CPT for 365 days will lose eligibility to apply for all OPT opportunities.

The exception to full-time enrollment and CPT participation is during a student’s vacation quarter (usually Summer quarter). During vacation quarter, students only need to register for the internship course.

Can I engage in CPT after I graduate?

No. If students are engaged in CPT during their final quarter, the internship must end by the last date of the quarter.

If you want to continue participating in training after you graduate, you must apply and be approved for OPT (insert link to OPT webpage here).

Do I need a Social Security Number (SSN)?

To engage in a paid internship, a SSN is required. Your international student advisor can issue a letter requesting the Social Security Administration to assign an SSN to you.

You will need to take this letter to the Social Security Administration office to request an SSN. Please review this page for additional information on required documents.