What is Day 1 CPT?
CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a type of work authorization that allows international students (F1 visa) to participate in internships during the academic year.
The term “Day 1 CPT” allows students to work full-time or part-time from the first day of their academic program.
However, there are some controversial points regarding Day 1 CPT. Some people may say Day 1 CPT is illegal, while some advocate the legality of Day 1 CPT.
Let’s discuss Day 1 CPT, the risk of Day 1 CPT, and how we should avoid it.
Day 1 CPT Pros & Cons
|No Time Wasted: start working as soon as first day of program start
|Require University CPT approval and I-20 to start work
|Flexible Hybrid Schedule: take most classes online and only required to attend onsite class every semester or every month
|CPT Requirements: your job description has to match CPT field of study
|Affordable Tuition: Day 1 CPT universities have lower tuition rates comparing to other grad schools, while allowing you to work full-time
|Less Scholarships: because you're permitted to work and make income yourself, Day 1 CPT Universities don't provide a great amount of scholarships
|Secure Legal Status: Day 1 CPT is a legal F1 work authorization that prolongs your legal stay in the US as well as full-time work eligibility, more years for H1B petition
|Possibility of RFE: if you did two Master's in similar field, or work full-time the entire program, the chances of H1B RFE is higher, but students are very likely to pass RFE if followed CPT policies
The Controversy of Day 1 CPT
Work from Day 1:
While most Universities do not allow work until the second academic year, Day 1 CPT Universities allow students to work from Day 1.
Why? Most Day 1 CPT programs are specifically designed to take practical experiences as a core course lesson, so real-life work experience is “required” in their academic course plan.
Fake Day 1 CPT University Arrested by ICE
In 2019, there was a Day 1 CPT arrest case which is still one of the reasons for the Day 1 CPT controversy and had a substantial impact on thousands of F1 students.
The story begins in Michigan, a fake Day 1 CPT university - the University of Farmington, was operated by federal agents to entrap students who did not want to follow the regular rules.
The University of Farmington claims that students can enroll in the University of Farmington and use Day 1 CPT without attending classes or doing homework. Amounts of students were allured by the attractive conditions and used the fraudulent Day 1 CPT to work full time from the fake University.
However, the University of Farmington did not require students to attend any academic course or do homework. This violated the CPT requirements.
The Detroit News reported that the University of Farmington was a fake school since it had no staff, no academic courses, no curriculum, and no assignment or attendance requirements. It was purely operated to provide students with fraudulent Day 1 CPT by federal agents to search for immigration fraud using fake CPT.
The Dept. of Homeland Security and ICE HSI arrested eight "recruiters" of Indian nationality and charged them on the grounds of visa fraud and harboring aliens for profit.
How to Avoid the Risk of Day 1 CPT
ICE announced the total number of students arrested was 161 (mostly Indian students), and ten school admission recruiters were arrested in this case. The Day 1 CPT arrest case has overall impacted and also impacted the regulation for Day 1 CPT Universities. These fraud agents were helping F1 students to gain fake transcripts for H1b applications…etc.
How to Avoid the Risk of Day 1 CPT
Choosing an accredited Day 1 CPT University is one of the most important factors to consider. Accreditation means University follows the academic standard: curriculum, academic assignments, quality teachers, and attendance requirements by USCIS.
Besides, to avoid the risk of Day 1 CPT, students should follow the regulation of the University and take responsibility for being an F1 student. (Such as GPA maintenance, onsite course attendance, and finishing their assignments).
Eligibility required for Day 1 CPT
Your job responsibility must be related to your academic program. For example, suppose your current position is a software engineer.
In that case, choosing a Master of Computer Science program over an MBA program makes more sense, as the Master of Computer Science program is more closely related to your job responsibility.
Only start work after your CPT approval
You should only start working after the school has approved your CPT.
If you start working without approval, you might get into trouble applying for an H1b visa or permanent residency (green card).
Work and study balance
No matter how challenging it is to attend school and work full-time simultaneously, you must adhere to all the requirements and regulations of the school.
That means you must attend school, complete assignments on time, abide by academic integrity, and complete all required courses with a GPA of 3.0 and higher. Most schools require students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to renew their CPT.
Students who like to start full-time or part-time career practice during their academic programs are recommended to choose Day 1 CPT Universities.
However, they must follow the responsibilities of an F1 student:
Students must only start working After the CPT application is approved by the university
Students must maintain grades above 3.0 GPA or higher
Students must attend the school in person per university’s requirements
Students must follow the regulation of the university
Students must work for a job that is related to the academic program
If traveling internationally, students must get travel signature from the university’s DSO