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Day 1 CPT University: Choosing the Right Program for YOU

Day 1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a benefit offered by certain universities in the United States that allows international students who are on F1 visa to start working from the very first day of their academic program provided:

  • Their course or a curriculum requires them to work from Day 1

  • The roles are related to their major field of study


Not every university in the US provides this benefit and hence the universities that do offer this benefit are termed as Day 1 CPT Universities. 

Choosing the wrong Day 1 CPT university can get you deported. It has happened once in 2019. Therefore, it is important for you to select the right Day 1 CPT university


Hi everyone, I’m Priya from It’s Ok Yaar and It’s Ok Yaar is a content platform for South Asian Immigrants and we aim to educate, entertain and empower them.


Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with Day 1 CPT, it is important to select the right university. That’s correct. It’s not important to choose the best Day 1 CPT university but it’s important to choose the “right” one. 

In this guide, I will help you understand “How To Select The Right Day 1 CPT University for YOU”


Selecting a Day 1 CPT University
Selecting a Day 1 CPT University

I will also share:

  • 3 Most Important factors you need to check when selecting a Day 1 CPT University:

  • How to choose the “right” Day 1 CPT Program

  • Controversy around Day 1 CPT Universities

  • Top Day 1 CPT Universities in USA

  • Some FAQs related to Day 1 CPT


So, let’s begin.

3 Most Important factors you need to check when selecting a Day 1 CPT University:


Accreditation:

When evaluating a Day 1 CPT university, the single most important thing to do is to thoroughly examine the school's accreditation. This involves a dual approach: 

  • identifying the accreditations the Day 1 CPT universities have and 

  • assessing the credibility and recognition of these accrediting bodies themselves.

Because, not all accreditations are born equal. 

To give you some more information:


Accreditation
Accreditation

In the U.S. education ecosystem, regional accreditation holds significant importance. For example, WASC accreditation is considered the pinnacle for universities in the Western U.S. Colleges like Stanford and UCLA have an accreditation from WASC. 


Therefore, if you see that a Day 1 CPT university holds the same accreditation, you'll know it is a safe and good choice. A Day 1 CPT University with WASC accreditation is Westcliff University


Some other “gold” standard accreditations are:


  • Higher Learning Commission

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)


These bodies are recognized for maintaining educational standards and are annually reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education.


On-Site Requirement

Another important thing to keep in mind while selecting a Day 1 CPT university is the on-site requirement. And by that I mean, don’t select a college that doesn’t require you to attend offline classes at all.


It is important to understand that USCIS does not allow exclusively online course attendance. Physical presence in classes is necessary to legally maintain your F1 status. 

It’s simple: if your studies do not require campus attendance, then there's no justification for your presence in the US, and therefore, no need for an F1 visa. While universities have the autonomy to create their curriculum, most Day 1 CPT Universities with established programs require some form of onsite class attendance. This requirement could be as frequent as weekly or as infrequent as once per semester, depending on the university's policies.


Attending a Day 1 CPT University
Attending a Day 1 CPT University

We’ve heard of cases where the USCIS has given RFE to people during their H1B process and asked for proof of attending onsite classes. They asked for proof such as travel tickets, hotel or stay receipts to prove that the person stayed in the town of their university when they attended classes. 

Be wary of any school claiming that campus attendance isn't necessary and that an internship alone suffices. Such institutions might be engaging in practices that USCIS could deem as I-20 fraud. In fact, something like this had happened in 2019. We’ll discuss more about it later in this guide.


School with Warnings

It goes without saying but do not select a university that has received warnings even if they’re offering Day 1 CPT programs with scholarships or less fees. The reasons behind these warnings are critical, as USCIS does not issue penalties without substantial grounds. 


If you're considering specific Day 1 CPT universities and want to investigate their history and reputation, we suggest you schedule a free consultation call with an expert from CPTDog. From CPTDog, you'll receive an unbiased third-party review and insights from CPTDog students about these institutions. 


Assuming that all the universities on your Day 1 CPT university shortlist are safe options, the next step is to determine the best fit for you. For that, there are certain additional parameters that you need to take into account. 

Factors to consider before selecting a Day 1 CPT University


Location: 

Like I said earlier in this guide, it is extremely important that your Day 1 CPT university should require you to attend at least a few classes on campus. Therefore, ensure that you select a university that is closer to where you work so that you can easily travel to attend your classes. 


Tuition Fees: 

Let’s be real. Everyone would want a budget friendly university considering this will be their second Masters course in the US. But take into consideration your location along with the tuition fees. There shouldn’t be a case where your tuition fees are low but you end up spending a lot of money traveling to the college because it’s in a different city. 


Duration of the course:

A DBA program may be more expensive than a shorter program, but it offers an extended period of CPT work, which can increase your chances of getting an H1B visa. Therefore, the duration of your course is also an extremely important parameter when you’re selecting a Day 1 CPT Course and University. 


How to Choose The “Right” Day 1 CPT Programs?

Choosing the correct Day 1 CPT Program requires striking the perfect Balance between relevance and distinction When selecting the ideal Day 1 CPT program, there are two essential principles to consider:

Alignment with your field of work: 

Your chosen program must align with your employment field. For instance, if you aspire to work as a software developer (or have already secured such a position), you need to enroll in a Day 1 CPT program offering relevant courses. Failing to do so could lead to your Designated School Official (DSO) denying your CPT application.


The program should differ from your previous one: 

Ensure that the program you're currently applying for differs significantly from your previous one, either in terms of major or degree level. Pursuing degrees that are too similar can lead to skepticism from USCIS regarding your true motives. They may question whether your aim is genuinely to further your education or if it's an attempt to leverage the work benefits of an F1 visa.


To overcome this concern, consider two strategies: 

  • change to a different major within the same academic tier, or 

  • elevate your studies to a more advanced degree level.


Choosing a Reputable Day 1 CPT University


Choosing the Right Program for YOU
Choosing the Right Program for YOU

Keep the below factors in mind while choosing a reputable Day 1 CPT University:

  • Accreditation by a recognized body.

  • Established program with a history of compliance.

  • Balance between online and on-site classes to meet USCIS requirements.

  • Program options aligned with your career goals.

  • Location suitable for your living situation.


We’ve covered an extensive list of Day 1 CPT Universities for you in a separate guide, where we’ve discussed Top Day 1 CPT Universities in the US as well as some of the cheapest Day 1 CPT Universities as well. 


Controversy around Day 1 CPT Universities


In 2019, approximately 250 international students in the US were arrested, detained and a majority of them were deported because they had taken admission in a college called the University of Farmington. It was said that these students knowingly took an admission in this college only to maintain their visa status and the college didn’t require them to attend any classes online or onsite, nor did they offer any homework or required students to undergo any kind of training or internship.


But the biggest problem with the entire thing was that this was a sting operation conducted by ICE agents and they’d set up a fake university. They even lured recruiters to get students enrolled in a university, get fake transcripts and eventually arrested about 10 such recruiters.

While whether the entire sting operation was ethical or not is up for debate and students maintain there was no way of knowing the university was fake or had any discernible factors distinguishing it from a real university, as it established a physical address, maintained a professional website, issued offers of acceptance and accepted tuition payments, among other actions. It even mailed students I-20 Certificates of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. 


The University of Farmington was also marketed as a Michigan institution authorized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program that allows the admittance of foreign students, according to the complaint. 


It was a big case when the news broke in 2019 and there were calls for a probe into this because a lot of people considered what ICE had done as unethical. 


However, because of this case, there’s always been some scrutiny towards Day1 CPT and which is why it is absolutely important to ensure that you don’t get into any such illegal activities, your university has onsite classes and you strictly maintain your eligibility as an F1 student while on Day 1 CPT. 


Eligibility for Day 1 CPT:

To qualify for Day 1 CPT, a student should:

  • Maintain a valid F-1 visa and I-20 form.

  • Secure an internship opportunity that is directly related to their field of study.

  • Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Ensure that the position aligns with their level of study and primary profession.

  • Obtain CPT authorization before starting the job, as it cannot be retroactive.

  • Be enrolled in classes at a Day 1 CPT university.

  • Not be a graduate student on Filing Fee status.

  • Ensure that the internship supervisor is not an F-1 or J-1 student.

  • Renew their Day 1 CPT authorization in accordance with university regulations.


Failure to comply with any of these requirements may result in the student's status being terminated.


FAQs about Day 1 CPT:

Can I work full-time on day 1 CPT?

You can work either full-time or part-time through CPT work authorization.

CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer.

If you use full-time CPT more than 11 months throughout the program, you will not be eligible for OPT post-graduation. 

Can I work outside of the U.S. while using Day 1 CPT?

Do I need an EAD card while using Day 1 CPT?

Can I travel back to India while using Day 1 CPT?

What is the 60-day rule?

Can I change employers/jobs during CPT?

If I am selected for H1b, can I drop out of school? If so, how?


We hope this guide has given you a thorough understanding of How to choose the right Day 1 CPT University for You. 

And remember, if things aren’t going your way today, they soon will. It’s Ok Yaar. Until, next time, have a wonderful day. 

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