Securing approval for Day 1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a crucial step for international students seeking off-campus employment opportunities from the beginning of their academic programs in the United States. Navigating the approval process requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and effective communication with designated school officials (DSOs) and relevant authorities. In this guide, we’ll outline the essential steps to help you successfully secure Day 1 CPT approval.

Understanding Eligibility

Meet Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for Day 1 CPT, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Eligibility requirements typically include:

  • Enrollment in a SEVP-certified institution
  • Full-time enrollment status
  • Job offer related to your field of study
  • Approval from your DSO and USCIS

Academic Program Requirements

Familiarize yourself with your academic program’s requirements regarding CPT eligibility and participation. Some programs may have specific criteria or restrictions for engaging in off-campus employment, so it’s essential to understand any academic or departmental policies that may apply.

Obtaining Job Offer and Internship

Secure Job Offer

Begin your job search early and actively seek out internship or employment opportunities relevant to your field of study. Network with industry professionals, attend career fairs, and utilize online job boards and resources to identify potential employers. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your skills and experiences that align with the job requirements.

Internship Placement

If you’re pursuing an internship, work closely with your academic advisor or career services office to explore internship opportunities and secure placement. Ensure that the internship role aligns with your academic and career goals and provides valuable learning experiences relevant to your field of study.

Application Process

Consult with DSO

Schedule a meeting with your DSO to discuss your intention to apply for Day 1 CPT and seek guidance on the application process. Your DSO will provide valuable insights into the documentation required, application deadlines, and USCIS regulations. Be prepared to provide details about your job offer or internship placement during this meeting.

Submit Required Documents

Gather all necessary documents for your Day 1 CPT application, which may include:

  • Completed CPT authorization form
  • Job offer letter or internship agreement
  • Academic advisor recommendation (if required)
  • Proof of enrollment and academic standing
  • Passport and visa documents
  • Any additional documentation requested by your DSO or USCIS

Await Approval

Submit your Day 1 CPT application to your DSO for review and processing. Once your application is submitted, await approval from both your DSO and USCIS before commencing employment. The processing time for CPT authorization may vary, so it’s essential to plan accordingly and allow for sufficient processing time.

Compliance and Reporting

Maintain Compliance

Adhere to all USCIS regulations and reporting requirements throughout your Day 1 CPT authorization period. Ensure that you maintain full-time enrollment status and comply with the terms and conditions outlined in your CPT authorization, including work hours and employer obligations.

Reporting Obligations

Report any changes to your employment or academic status to your DSO promptly, including changes in job title, employer, work location, or program of study. Failure to report changes or maintain compliance with CPT regulations could jeopardize your immigration status and future eligibility for employment benefits.


Securing Day 1 CPT approval is a critical milestone for international students pursuing off-campus employment opportunities in the United States. By understanding eligibility criteria, obtaining a job offer or internship placement, navigating the application process effectively, and maintaining compliance with USCIS regulations, you can successfully secure CPT authorization and embark on a rewarding professional experience while pursuing your academic goals. Remember to consult with your DSO for guidance and support throughout the process, and stay informed about any updates or changes to immigration regulations that may impact your CPT eligibility. With careful planning and diligence, you can maximize the benefits of Day 1 CPT and enhance your academic and career prospects in the United States.