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The Basic

What is Day 1 CPT?

Day 1 CPT programs are specifically designed to seamlessly blend classroom learning with practical work experience in the real world.

Students studying in the United States have the opportunity to engage in internships, which offer valuable work experience and reinforce the knowledge and skills acquired during their studies, thanks to regulations set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

USCIS permits two types of internships:

  1. Curriculum Practical Training (CPT): This occurs during the course of study.
  2. Optional Practical Training (OPT): This can be undertaken at the end of the study period.

A pivotal distinction between CPT and OPT lies in their approval processes:

  • CPT: Approved by the educational institution, CPT can be implemented without undergoing a USCIS review process. It is integrated into the student's curriculum, providing practical experience directly related to their major field of study.

  • OPT: In contrast, OPT involves a more extensive approval process. While the educational institution assists the student in gathering and initially reviewing the necessary documents, the application is submitted to USCIS for final approval, providing students with practical experience related to their field of study after completing their academic program.

Understanding these key differences and adhering to the respective guidelines is crucial for students aiming to gain practical experience during or after their academic journey in the U.S.

OPT/CPT comparison table

  OPT Day 1 CPT
Usage Period Before or after graduation Before graduation, from the first day of enrollment until graduation
Duration 1 year or 3 years (for STEM fields)

Master's programs: 2-3 years; Doctoral programs: 4-6 years

Authorization U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Designated School Official (DSO) at the school
Employer Requirement No Yes
Number of Times Once per education level Unlimited
Considerations Using OPT before graduation deducts from available OPT time Full-time CPT work for 12 months disqualifies you from using OPT after graduation


U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS Clarification on Work Permits (CPT and OPT) for International Students
U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS Clarification on Work Permits (CPT and OPT) for International Students
CPTDog 新


Day 1 CPT University Location Map
Day 1 CPT allows students in certain master's or doctoral programs to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from the very first day of their program. While most schools restrict students from participating in CPT during the initial semester or year, some permit on-campus internships during the first year and off-campus ones after a year of program progression. However, if a program necessitates immediate internships at the onset, students may apply to commence an internship from the first day of enrollment, known as Day 1 CPT.

Is Day 1 CPT Illegal?

Regarding the legality of full-time CPT or Day 1 CPT, USCIS does permit full-time CPT. The authority to formulate CPT policies, including decisions about on-campus/off-campus CPT internships during the first school year and whether to allow full-time or part-time CPT internships, has been delegated by USCIS to universities. Each university creates its policies, and USCIS does not intervene.

uscis cpt explanation

USCIS primarily focuses on ensuring that the student has not engaged in illegal work during the full-time CPT period, that there are no gaps in student status and H1b status conversion, no illegal stays, and that attendance is in accordance with the school's regulations.

View the latest list of employers that support CPT 

Choosing Day 1 CPT Programs

When exploring Day 1 CPT programs, we recommends prioritizing master's and doctoral programs that necessitate CPT internship experience as a graduation requirement within the school's curriculum. To confirm whether the Day 1 CPT program is mandated by the school before application submission, please contact your Goelite consultant. They will evaluate your situation and provide advice on school selection.

Official Description of CPT

As per the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website: At the graduate or doctoral level, if a degree program requires CPT for work experience from the first semester, students may contact the school's DSO (Designated School Officer) to obtain authorization. Authorization must be obtained from the school!


Do I Really Need Day 1 CPT as My Backup Plan?

There are six key situations where Day 1 CPT schools become really important. If any of these sound like you, it might be time to think about joining a Day 1 CPT university.

  1. International Students on OPT or STEM OPT
    International students who are on OPT or STEM OPT might consider Day 1 CPT programs if they face challenges like their employer not sponsoring H1b visas, not being selected for H1b visas, experiencing unemployment, or being uncertain about their future direction. This allows them to continue working or seek employment in the United States.

  2. Academic Crisis, Expulsion, Emergency Transfer
    Students facing an academic crisis or expulsion, and given a tight deadline for transfer, might opt for CPT schools due to their flexible enrollment schedules. They can accept students swiftly (in as little as 1-2 days), preventing the dilemma of leaving the country or staying illegally after SEVIS termination.

  3. Students Whose OPT Applications Were Rejected
    For students whose OPT applications get rejected and find that their grace period has elapsed, CPT schools offer a rapid solution. With numerous schools to choose from and expedited application processes, they can secure acceptance and I-20 within 1-2 days, leave the country, and reactivate their student status.

  4. Full-time Workers in China Eyeing U.S. Opportunities
    Individuals working full-time in industries like IT or CS in China, who have received U.S. job offers or plan to job-hunt in the U.S. without an H1b visa, might choose Day 1 CPT programs. This allows them to study in the U.S. while continuing full-time work or initiating their job search and H1b application.

  5. Individuals with Denied Work Permit Extensions
    Those with H1b, H-4 EAD, L-2 EAD, or other work permits, who face USCIS denials for work permit extensions, or are unemployed, might opt to change to F-1 status and enroll in Day 1 CPT programs. This allows them to transition to full-time employment or continue working.

  6. Parents Accompanying Their Children
    Parents accompanying their children might consider CPT schools due to their flexible schedules. With a requirement to attend school once per semester and the remainder of classes online (completable in 2 hours per week and schedulable daily), it provides a convenient arrangement for U.S. chaperones.

Are There Any Catches About Day 1 CPT?

No worries, Day 1 CPT is completely above board - it's recognized by the USCIS, legal program you can confidently apply to. However, keep in mind there are 3 important caveats you should be aware of.

  1. Job and Course Relevance:It's vital that your employment under CPT is relevant to your course. For instance, if you're a programmer, opting for MS Computer Science makes more sense than an MBA because the course content aligns better with your job.

  2. Adhering to CPT Approval Protocols:Always wait for school approval on your CPT before starting work. Beginning work before CPT approval can jeopardize your lawful student status during H1b and future green card applications. Remember, schools vary in how quickly they process SEVIS and CPT applications.Be mindful of gaps between OPT expiry and new CPT effectiveness. During these gaps, without OPT or CPT, you cannot work. It’s wise to undergo a rehire process or take a leave of absence, ensuring you communicate with your manager about not working for a few days. This communication can serve as proof of work permission and legal compliance in future H1b or green card applications.

  3. Maintaining Academic Standards:Even while working full-time, as an international student, it's crucial to strictly adhere to your school’s rules and regulations. Regular attendance, timely assignment submissions, and upholding academic integrity, especially by attending all required coursework and maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher, are typically mandatory.Most schools necessitate students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to renew their CPT, ensuring you remain academically eligible and in compliance with regulations.

How to Find a Day 1 CPT University?

  • School Accreditation
  • Onsite Frequency
  • Transportation
  • Renewal Frequency
  • Coursework Pressure

School Accreditation and Reputation

Choose schools with a long history, solid reputation, and both national and regional accreditation.
Regional accreditation, like WASC, is crucial and often more stringent than national accreditation.
Verify a school’s accreditation status on the U.S. Department of Education’s official website.

--We have compiled a list of schools with excellent reputations for you.

>>Click here to view the list of schools.

Onsite Class Frequency:

USCIS mandates that F-1 visa international students cannot take 100% online classes (except during epidemics).
Schools like Ottawa University may require onsite attendance every two months, while others like Westcliff University might require it once per semester.
Finding a University with a suitable onsite frequency can significantly ease your burden. We recommend a frequency of once per semester.

Transportation Accessibility:

Choose a school with convenient transportation options, considering direct flights, train and bus routes, and driving convenience, especially if frequent travel to the school is required.

The best option is naturally to find a suitable school near where you live, as this can significantly save on travel time. Of course, if your field of study is quite specialized and there are no suitable schools nearby, you can contact us. We will recommend a suitable school for you free of charge.

CPT Renewal Frequency:

In short, if you want to work while studying, your school must periodically renew your CPT. Some schools allow renewal every semester, while others do it annually.

Of course, renewing once a year is more ideal, but you don't need to worry too much about this. Renewing once per semester won't be too troublesome.

Coursework Pressure:

Don't assume that you can achieve a good GPA without studying in these schools. For the sake of your status, you need to maintain your GPA above 2.5-3.0.

Therefore, avoiding programs with excessive coursework pressure can help you maintain a healthy GPA and avoid the need to transfer schools.

Not sure which schools have high academic pressure? No worries, contact us, and we'll help you choose a suitable school.


15 Common Mistakes About Day 1 CPT

What is USCIS's policy on the DAY 1 CPT program?

The decision to approve a CPT is made by the university.

This includes decisions on whether on-campus or off-campus CPT internships are allowed in the first academic year, and whether full-time or part-time CPT internships are permitted.

These policies are set by the school itself, and USCIS does not intervene.

Day 1 CPT Universities that does not require class attendance. Some institutions have policies that don't mandate class attendance. However, be cautious: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has previously scrutinized such institutions. If a school doesn't ask you to attend class, it's better not to join. You don't want to have problems with your F-1 student status because of these schools.
What is blacklisted Day 1 CPT schools, is this true?

It's true that some schools have been investigated by the Immigration Department. If you see some schools claiming the following two Point, trust me, RUN!

  1. No need to attend classes on campus: The university guarantees that you won't have to physically go to school every semester.
  2. No Accredited: Recently, the ACICS (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools) accreditation came under scrutiny and was subsequently blacklisted by the USCIS. While ACICS was intended to monitor and ensure the quality of a school's education, management negligence led to its accreditation being revoked by the USCIS.

Schools Affected by the Blacklist:

  1. New York Institute of English and Business
  2. Best Care College
  3. Agape College of Business and Science
  4. Bergin College of Canine Studies
  5. Beverly Hills Design Institute
  6. California Aeronautical University,
  7. California University of Management and Sciences
  8. Empire College
  9. Merit University
  10. Nobel University
  11. 1San Diego Global Knowledge University
  12. University of North America(UoNA)
  13. Stratford University
  14. American University of Fairfax
  15. and more..
Can I get H1B visa during CPT? Yes, if you have received an offer from a U.S. company or plan to come to the U.S. to look for a related job, you can choose the Day-1 CPT program to come to the U.S. to study, while you can continue to work full-time or start looking for a job to participate in the H1B lottery.
What are the potential risks for students who choose to attend a Day 1 CPT university but do not participate in regular classes?
  1. Status Violation: Non-attendance can lead to the loss of valid F-1 student status.
  2. Deportation Risk: Students may face deportation and re-entry bans.
  3. Future Immigration Issues: Violations can hinder eligibility for future immigration benefits, like H-1B applications.
  4. Increased Scrutiny: Students might face additional scrutiny by ICE and during visa renewals.
  5. Re-entry Challenges: Possible issues when trying to re-enter the U.S.
  6. Financial Loss: Potential loss of tuition and other fees. 
Can I choose a program that I have attended before?


Guidelines for Choosing a Program for Day 1 CPT university:
  1. Avoid Repeating Majors: Never enroll in the exact same major with the same degree level that you've previously completed.
  2. Similar Majors: To convincingly demonstrate to USCIS the necessity of your chosen major, avoid enrolling in majors that are very similar to what you've studied before. For instance, if you've completed an MS in Data Science, it's advisable not to pursue an MS in Business Analytics, even if the name is different.


What is the homework load like at a Day 1 CPT university? Day 1 CPT university generally have very little academic pressure. Most of the courses at the school are online-based, and you only need to attend the school once a month or once per semester at most, and the attendance usually happens on weekends as well, so it doesn't affect your full-time job at all and your day-to-day life.
Is it worth it to apply a Day 1 CPT university? Day 1 CPT universities' Tuition are a much lower than other universities, only $10,000 to $15,000 a year. There are also a lot of scholarship opportunities for students to take advantage of.
How to choose a suitable major within Day 1 CPT programs? Day 1 CPT universities majors are actually very diverse, whether you want to choose business, art, or engineering science, there are many schools and programs to choose from. If you're not sure what program to choose, take a look at the school introduction page or contact one of our professional consultants for help in choosing the right school and program.
How long can one stay in the US at the maximum by utilizing DAY 1 CPT? DAY 1 CPT has a variety of masters and PhD programs, you can do a number of different masters programs (2 to 2.5 years each), and even PhD programs(3 to 4 years each), which will give you 5 to 10 years to legally stay in US. So, don't worry about not winning the H1B lottery for a few years.
Can Day 1 CPT schools help me gain more knowledge and enrich my academic background?

Day 1 CPT schools are primarily suitable for individuals who already possess the necessary background and skills to secure a job in the United States. These schools may not have the highest reputation in terms of education quality, making it challenging for employers to recognize the abilities of graduates. 

Therefore, Day 1 CPT programs are typically more suitable for those who urgently need to resolve their work status rather than individuals seeking to enhance their education and background.

For those looking to improve themselves, it is advisable to choose regular schools or even community colleges, as they offer the opportunity to enroll in CPT programs after one year, allowing for a valid work permit.

If I choose a STEM program, will I still be able to get 3 years of OPT after graduation? You may not be able to use OPT after graduation: if you use full-time CPT for more than 365 days, then you cannot apply for OPT after graduation.
If I apply to a Day 1 CPT school, will I be able to continue working the moment I receive my offer letter? No. The school needs to approve the CPT before the student can start working. If a student starts working before the CPT is approved, you might find some trouble during the H1b application and future green card application process. The USCIS may consider the applicant as not maintaining lawful student statu.
As long as I have a DAY 1 CPT work permit, I can work for any company I want.

Not all companies are able to accept the DAY 1 CPT work permit.

The process can be more complex than OPT because the company needs to confirm the signing of a CPT Agreement with the school. While larger companies typically have experience with this process, some smaller companies may be hesitant to cooperate.

However, it is worth reaching out to the HR representative of the company to discuss the possibility. If the HR confirms that they are unable to sign the CPT Agreement, it may be necessary to explore whether the school can waive the agreement and provide an Employment Verification Letter or alternative documentation. For further assistance or to communicate with us, please click here.

Is Day 1 CPT application process troublesome?

Whether you are well-versed in the DAY 1 CPT application process or just starting out, if you're looking to find the perfect DAY 1 CPT university and receive expert guidance tailored to your specific situation, we can connect you with the right schools and provide professional counseling.

By communicating directly with admissions officers, we can help expedite your application process, secure your I-20, maximize scholarship opportunities, and pave the way for the freedom to work in the U.S. Don't hesitate, evaluate your application for free by clicking the link !

Contact Us

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Fill out a simple form, our experts will match you to the most suitable Day 1 CPT program according to your background, location, etc. We will also list scholarship opportunities for you. You can expect our reply within 2 business days.

*Due to high demand, our response might be delayed. The current response time is 1-3 business days. But rest assured, once you fill out the form, our experts will call you as soon as they can.