Day 1 CPT: A Detailed Look at the Pros and Cons

If you’re an international student in the US, Day 1 CPT can offer you a valuable opportunity to gain work experience directly related to your field of study. Day 1 CPT universities permit this authorization from the very beginning of the first semester.

This opportunity indeed sounds attractive to students. However, before diving in, you should take a closer look at the pros and cons of Day 1 CPT to make an informed decision.

But first, let’s understand what Day 1 CPT is.

What is Day 1 CPT?

CPT is a form of temporary employment authorization available to F-1 visa holders enrolled in a full-time degree program. It allows students to gain practical experience through internships, cooperative education programs, or research projects directly related to their field of study.

Moreover, Day 1 CPT universities specifically allow students to apply for this authorization as early as their first semester. Now that you know the Day 1 CPT program, let’s see the pros and cons of this special program.

Pros of Day 1 CPT

The Day 1 CPT is a very popular option among international students, and there are definitely some reasons behind it. There are several advantages to consider when exploring Day 1 CPT:

1. Early exposure to the workplace:

Day 1 CPT allows you to gain valuable hands-on experience in the workplace. This experience complements your academic learning by giving you a practical understanding of your field and the professional skills employers seek.

2. Enhanced job prospects:

It also allows you to build a resume with relevant work experience during your studies, which makes you a more competitive candidate upon graduation. Remember, practical experience alongside academic qualifications has extra value among employers.

3. Potential for H-1B visa sponsorship:

A strong CPT experience reveals your skills and value to a potential employer. This can increase your chances of securing H-1B visa sponsorship after graduation. If you get an H-1B visa, you can secure long-term employment in the US.

4. Financial support:

CPT allows you to earn an income while studying. This earning can help you offset living expenses and tuition fees. Moreover, financial independence alleviates pressure and enables you to focus better on your studies and work.

5. Networking opportunities:

Through CPT placements, you’ll connect with professionals in your field. This can lead to valuable mentorships, job recommendations, and a stronger professional network throughout your career.

6. Reduced course load:

Some Day 1 CPT programs allow students to take a slightly reduced course load to manage both studies and work commitments. This can be helpful if you prioritize financial needs and a more balanced academic and professional experience.

7. Explore career options:

Last but not least, Day 1 CPT allows you to explore different fields related to your studies. This early exposure can help you wisely choose the right career path.

Cons of Day 1 CPT

While Day 1 CPT offers numerous benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks you need to consider:

1. Focus on academics may suffer:

You might find it difficult to balance studies with a work schedule. Hence, you should prioritize managing your time effectively to ensure your academic performance doesn’t suffer.

2. Eligibility limitations:

Not all Day 1 CPT university programs may automatically qualify for CPT authorization. It’s necessary to research specific program requirements before applying.

3. Increased scrutiny from USCIS:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may scrutinize applications for a change of status (e.g., from F-1 to H-1B) if your primary reason for studying appears to be work authorization. Hence, you should focus on demonstrating a genuine academic purpose alongside your desire for practical experience.

4. Limited job market:

Finding CPT opportunities can be challenging, depending on your location and field of study. You need to research universities situated in areas with thriving job markets aligned with your program.

5. Potential for visa denial:

If your CPT experience is deemed unrelated to your studies, it could lead to visa denial. Hence, make sure your CPT aligns with your academic program and career goals.

6. Accreditation concerns:

Some Day 1 CPT universities might have questionable accreditation. Hence, verifying a university’s accreditation by a reputable agency recognized by the US Department of Education is crucial.

Final Thoughts

Day 1 CPT can be a valuable tool, especially if you’re seeking to enhance your academic experience with practical work experience. However, as everything has a good and bad side, you should consider both the pros and cons of Day 1 CPT.

Note: Day 1 CPT is not a shortcut to a visa. Maintain a genuine academic purpose and ensure your CPT experience complements your studies and career aspirations.


How long can I stay on Day 1 CPT?

The duration of Day 1 CPT depends on your program length. It can last anywhere from 12 to 36 months but always check with your university for specifics.

Can I work full-time on Day 1 CPT?

CPT regulations typically allow part-time work (20 hours per week) while enrolled in a full course of study. Full-time CPT (40 hours per week) might be possible during breaks or with reduced course loads, but consult your DSO for specific regulations.

What are the criteria and requirements for Day 1 CPT?

  • F-1 student status with a valid visa and I-94 form.
  • Enrollment in a full-time degree program at a Day 1 CPT university.
  • The program must be eligible for CPT authorization (check with the university’s DSO).
  • Internship or job offer directly related to your field of study.

Who is eligible for Day 1 CPT?

Generally, any F-1 student enrolled in a program that allows CPT can apply for Day 1 CPT. You can contact the university’s DSO for details on their specific requirements.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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