Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

New CPT Guidelines for International Students During Fall & Spring Semesters

May 2019

Due to increased scrutiny of the use of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) by U.S. immigration officials, the UMass Amherst International Programs Office (IPO) has clarified the policies governing the use of CPT during the Spring and Fall semesters. As a result, to protect our students from potential repercussions, the College of Information and Computer Sciences will be very careful about approving CPT for our students.

As a reminder, below are the basic rules around CPT. To do a paid term-time work experience:

  • Students must be full-time (enrolled for 9 credits MS-only or qualifying for FT status waiver for MS/PhD and PhD students)
  • 20 hour/week limit 
  • The internship MUST be "integral" to your course of study
  • Making money or gaining work experience is NOT a legitimate reason for using CPT

Your employment letter must include the following:

  • Address of the employer 
  • Address of the employment or specifically note "remote work"
  • Start date (must be within the academic semester) and End date (must be within the academic semester or you will need to enroll in the next CPT session)
  • Rate of pay
  • Number of work hours per week (must be 20 or less)
  • Job description

For undergraduate majors, this is a particular challenge, as we currently have no academic program requiring work experience.  We are exploring what we might be able to do to create such a program, but in the interim, we will not approve any spring or fall semester CPT for undergraduates.  Please do not accept any paid positions during those terms! Note that unpaid experience is not covered by these rules, and should be allowable.

For MS-only, please consult with Career Services before exploring, and certainly before accepting, opportunities for paid work during spring or fall semesters.  Because you will need to maintain full-time student status, requiring 9 credits of on-campus coursework, CPT will only be approved in very rare circumstances.  Even if you will be in your last semester and only taking one course, you must continue to be present on campus and will be allowed to work remotely for no more than 20 hours/week.

For PhD students, full-time status is related to your engagement in research.  If your proposed work experience is supporting your research program, it may be possible to allow fall or spring CPT.  In this case, your work can be viewed as effectively a research assistantship, necessary to your doctoral program, but paid by an outside organization.  However, your thesis advisor MUST certify that the work is integral to your research.

Registration for graduate fall/spring CPT:

1. Check with Career Services prior to accepting an offer. Fall/spring academic semester requirements for approval are different than winter/summer break approval. Submit a Handshake contract prior to submitting your online application to IPO. Please refer to these instructions to create a contract in handshake: Handshake Contract Instructions

2. Obtain the CICS CPT academic registration form from Career Services (undergrads) or from Eileen Hamel (grads). The cost for fall/spring CPT will be a full University graduate credit, not the summer CPE graduate rate.

3. If approved by the College, submit the CICS form and employment letter to IPO here. It will take 2-3 days to be approved by IPO and CICS.