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What Is Day 1 CPT and its Benefits for International Students?


Day 1 CPT offers international students a great opportunity to gain real work experience in the US while still studying. If students have a clear understanding of Day 1 CPT program’s legality, benefits, eligibility, risks, and application process, they can make well-informed decisions and seize this unique opportunity.

What is CPT Program?

International students have the opportunity to study in the United States and gain employment authorization for internships through the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Whether they are still pursuing their education or have already graduated, this opportunity is open to all. By participating in these internships, students gain valuable practical work experience that helps them develop their skills in their chosen academic fields.

Students studying on student visas in the U.S. have two options for employment authorization: CPT and OPT. Students have the opportunity to work while studying through CPT, with authorization from their educational institution. This allows students to get real-world training in the classes they choose. On the other hand, OPT offers employment options after graduation with USCIS authorization, enabling students to work in their chosen field.

Also Read: Curricular Practical Training CPT/Hybrid Program In US

What is Day 1 CPT?

In certain U.S. programs, international students can start Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) immediately through the Day 1 CPT or Immediate CPT rule. This allows them to start an internship or work right at the start of their program (typically day one). Institutions that offer this type of program are known as Day 1 CPT universities. Not all institutions and programs offer Day 1 CPT. Before applying, prospective students should thoroughly research university and program policies, as eligibility for Day 1 CPT varies depending on these factors.

Also Read: Complete Guide On Campbellsville University

Is Day 1 CPT legal?

Day 1 CPT is entirely within the bounds of the law. Internships are permitted for F1 visa students, both during their academic studies and after graduation, as approved by immigration requirements. The goal of this initiative is to promote student job experience through internships, allowing them to apply their academic skills and knowledge. Each institution has the freedom to create Day 1 CPT rules, which involve choices of off-campus CPT internships in the first year and the availability of full-time or part-time internships. These policies are determined individually by each institution.

The students need to keep in mind some prerequisites. Students using CPT must meet their universities’ attendance criteria and maintain their full-time F1 student status to begin. The standard academic requirement for graduate students is usually enrolling in 6 to 9 credit hours of courses per semester (quarter) to maintain their academic progress. Additionally, the internship or labor performed by students must be directly related to their field of study. Before starting work legally, students need to submit a CPT application and get approval from their university.

Who can take advantage of this program?

International students nearing the end of their OPT, but still waiting to be selected for an H-1B visa.

If you have an expiring OPT license and are struggling to change your status, possibly due to your employer’s lack of interest in sponsoring an H-1B visa,. If you’re unsure about your next career move due to reasons like job loss, H-1B lottery rejection, unemployment during the grace period, or general uncertainty, enrolling in a Day 1 CPT program is an attractive option. This allows you to maintain your valid F1 status while acquiring new skills, continuing your internship or job, and pursuing a change in status or job opportunities within the United States.

For international students who don’t want to wait for OPT

If you are a student who wants to gain world-class US internship and work experience and does not want to wait until your graduation, CPT provides an excellent opportunity to complete your degree along with actual work experience. This is ideal for students who want to return to their home country immediately after graduation and for students who want to pursue a career or further education in a different country without academic gaps.

Laid off H1-B visa holders

Day 1 CPT is a viable solution for H1B holders who have been laid off, as it allows them to stay legally in the United States by enrolling in an F1 student visa program. It offers opportunities for career growth and skill enhancement. By prioritizing practical skills and offering flexibility, these programs can help address job gaps and financial constraints. This strategic solution aligns with educational and career goals, providing flexibility in navigating the US job market.

F2 visa holders seeking educational and work opportunities in the country.

With Day 1 CPT, F2 visa holders can study and gain practical experience at the same time. By enrolling in a Day 1 CPT program, they can transition to an F1 student visa. This grants them the opportunity to obtain practical work experience that aligns with their area of study.

H4 visa holders without an EAD card seeking a career in the country.

H4 holders can gain work experience in their field of study through this program, enhancing their employability and career prospects. Day 1 CPT’s integration with real-life work experiences is advantageous for those seeking US job market entry. It enhances professional abilities and expands networking opportunities, potentially leading to future employment.

International professionals seeking work during their studies.

International professionals are drawn to the appealing benefits of the Day 1 CPT program. The focus on practical experience in these programs boosts career prospects. The flexibility of these programs promotes a balanced work-study schedule with networking opportunities for future career growth. Additionally, the acquired experience can enhance eligibility for other work-related visas, and working while studying can help to cover expenses.

Eligibility of Day 1 CPT Universities in the USA

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: Full-time enrollment in a course is required for the student.

Compliance with Curriculum: The job must be relevant to the student’s academic program.

CPT Approval: Students must wait for their CPT to be approved by the school before starting internships/working and adhere to the CPT start day on their I-20s.

Requirements for CPT application:

Keep A Good Academic Standing: Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

Secure a Job Offer: A job offer is necessary for CPT authorization.

Major Field of Study: Students are only allowed to pursue employment training in their major field of study.

Apply Before the Deadline: The majority of colleges have a cutoff date for CPT application submissions. Make sure to submit it on time.

Also Read: A Comprehensive Guide to the US Student Visa 

Day 1 CPT holds a different value for everyone. For some students, it can be beneficial to gain practical work experience while earning their degree. It’s important to thoroughly evaluate the benefits and drawbacks and make sure they match your long-term career goals and immigration plans.

Why Choose University Hub?

Being one of the leading education consultants in the USA, University Hub has emerged as a key player in facilitating international students’ access to CPT programs. We have partnerships with esteemed institutions like Adelphi University, Golden Gate University, Anderson University, Cumberland University, and Faulkner University that promote (CPT) Day 1 programs. Through our collaboration with these universities, we help students navigate the dynamic landscape of education at the top universities in the US and gain a competitive edge in their chosen fields.


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