Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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Curricular practical training (CPT) is F-1 student employment which is required for all students in your degree program, for a credit-bearing course that will count towards your degree, or for off-campus Jeff Metcalf Internships (College students only). The type of CPT requirement, for your degree, course, or Metcalf internship affects the conditions and the application process. 

CPT is approved by OIA, not the government and the application is free.  Once our office has received your complete CPT application, it will take about one week to be approved.  You will receive an email when your new I-20 with the CPT authorization is ready to pick up.

You cannot begin work until your CPT has been approved and the CPT start date printed on your I-20 has been reached.  Working outside of the dates or employer listed on your I-20 is unlawful. 

 

Course-Based and Degree-Based CPT (for most graduate students)

  • Authorization for CPT comes from the University's Office of International Affairs (OIA) rather than from a government agency. There is no application fee.
  • To be eligible for CPT you must hold valid F-1 status at the time of application and have been a full-time student in the United States in a lawful status that permits study for one academic year (3 academic quarters), preceding your employment. If you changed to F-1 status during that year, consult OIA about your eligibility for CPT.
  • You must have a job offer, in writing, before OIA authorizes your CPT.
  • Government regulations do not limit the time that CPT is available, but they stipulate that students who have received 12 months or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • For degree-requirement CPT, you need not register in any particular course in order to obtain work authorization.
  • For course-requirement CPT, you must register in the course during the quarter that you work and OIA will authorize employment for only one quarter at a time.

WARNING: Use of even one day of course-requirement CPT without registering for and completing the course for a grade is a serious violation of your F-1 status and will be considered illegal employment.

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Application Process for Course-Based and Degree-Based CPT

Submit the following items to OIA. Unless your circumstances are quite unusual, you should not need to confer with a staff member.

1. CPT Request Form

2. CPT Employment Letter Template: A signed offer letter from your prospective employer, on letterhead stationery, giving your job title and duties, the precise beginning and ending dates of employment, and specifying whether the employment will be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time. It also must state the EXACT location of the training, which means the entire address including: street, city, state, and zip.

3. Proof that your employment for CPT will be satisfying a degree requirement or a course requirement.

  • For a degree requirement: Provide a letter from the chair of your department, your academic adviser or your Dean of Students referring to the employer's letter and to the degree requirement, and confirming that your job will satisfy that requirement, in full or in part.
  • For a course requirement: Provide a letter from the faculty member responsible for the course referring to the employer's letter and to the course requirement, and confirming that your job will satisfy that requirement, in full or in part (see Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form).

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CPT for students at Chicago Booth

Almost all MBA students at Booth School of Business use CPT for off-campus internships. You are eligible for CPT after 3 quarters of enrollment, so you can use CPT for your summer internship and during your second year (MBA students). The CPT course that is usually used is 31303 - Field Research.

Booth Academic Services will send an email to all F-1 international students in spring quarter when it is time to enroll in the CPT course. Academic Services will give specific instructions on the process, including the forms needed to apply and the guidelines for the letter from your employer. Academic Services will work with your employer if modifications are needed to your employer letter. Since CPT is processed through our office, as long as you start gathering your CPT materials once you receive the email from Booth, you will have plenty of time to obtain authorization for your summer employment.

As a reminder, you are not allowed to begin employment until you have finished 3 quarters of enrollment, so your job cannot begin until the day after spring quarter. The last day you can work on a summer CPT authorization is the day before autumn quarter begins.

CPT is date-specific and employer-specific, so if you need to extend your CPT authorization beyond the initial time period or want to work for a second employer, you must submit paperwork before you do the work so that you can have your CPT authorization updated. Failure to do so will result not only in possible termination of your F-1 record, but also in your employer not paying you for the work since you were not authorized. CPT is only available to Booth MBA and PhD students.

Note that you cannot apply for a social security number until you are authorized to work, so if your employer is asking for your Social Security Number (SSN) early in winter or spring quarters you will have to tell them to wait. You can apply for your SSN up to 30 days before your CPT work start date. See our social security page for more information on this process.

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CPT for College Metcalf Fellows

Note to J-1 students: CPT authorization applies to F-1 students only.  For information on J-1 work authorization for employer-funded Metcalf internships, please see our Academic Training information.

Internships coordinated through the Career Advancement Metcalf Fellows Program are considered cooperative education; thus, international students who receive employer-funded Metcalf internships should apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  CPT authorization is only necessary for internships where you are paid directly by the employer.  Internships that are funded by a grant from the College are considered on-campus employment, and therefore do not require CPT authorization.  The source of your funding will be specified in your Metcalf Award Letter from CA.

As a reminder, to be eligible for CPT, you must have been enrolled as a full-time student for the three quarters directly preceding your employment.  Thus, if you are returning from a Leave of Absence, you are ineligible for CPT if you have not met this requirement.  Also, if you are in your first year of undergraduate study, your Metcalf internship must begin after the last day of your third quarter (usually Spring quarter).   

Once you have accepted an internship offer that requires CPT, you can apply for CPT through our office.  There are two ways to apply for Metcalf-based CPT authorization:

Online: Metcalf CPT Request Form

If you do not have access to a scanner, you can drop off the following three documents to the OIA front desk:

  1. CPT Request Form
  2. Metcalf Award Letter (copy) from Career Advancement: This letter confirms your internship offer with a specific employer and states that you will be paid directly by your employer.
  3. CPT Employment Letter Template: Because CPT is employer-specific and date-specific, we require precise details regarding your internship.  These details include the beginning and end dates of your employment, your job title and duties, your hours of work, and the exact location (address) of your internship.  This letter must be on letterhead stationery and signed by your prospective employer.  Students should provide the employer with this template when asking for this letter. 

Please allow OIA approximately one week to process your CPT application.  When your CPT has been approved, you will receive a new I-20 with the details of your CPT authorization on page 3.  Keep in mind that you can only work for the specific dates and employer listed on page 3 of your I-20.  CPT does not authorize you to work at any other organization or job, paid or unpaid.  If you need to extend your CPT authorization dates, contact OIA in advance to process your extension.  Work performed outside of the dates specified on your I-20 is considered unlawful employment and can result in termination of your F-1 status. 

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CPT for Harris School Students

Note to J-1 students: CPT authorization applies to F-1 students only.  For information on J-1 work authorization for internships,please see our Academic Training information.

Harris School students can be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for off-campus internships by enrolling in the non-credit course PPHA 51200.  This course is offered every quarter, including Summer quarter; students must enroll for the quarter in which they will be employed. 

As a reminder, to be eligible for CPT, you must have been enrolled as a full-time student for the three quarters directly preceding the start of your employment.  Thus, if you are a first-year student, your summer internship cannot begin until the day after the end of Spring quarter.  Also, CPT is only available prior to completion of your program; for post-graduation internships, you must obtain Optional Practical Training (OPT) or another type of work authorization. 

CPT is employer and date specific, so you must have a job offer before applying for CPT.  Since CPT is processed through our office, you can obtain work authorization within one week, assuming you meet all requirements and have correctly submitted all application documents (below). 

The following items are required for Harris students to be authorized for CPT:

1)      CPT Request Form

2)      CPT Employment Letter Template: CPT authorization requires precise details regarding your internship.  These details include the start and end dates of your employment, your job title and duties, your hours of work, and the exact location (address) of your internship.  This letter must be on letterhead stationery and signed by your prospective employer.  Students should provide the employer with this template when requesting this letter.

3)      Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by Kathi Marshall, Dean of Students. 

Please allow OIA approximately one week to process your CPT application.  When your CPT has been approved, you will receive a new I-20 with the details of your CPT authorization on page 3.  This document will serve as your proof of employment authorization.  Keep in mind that you can only work for the specific employer and dates specified on page 3 of your I-20.  CPT does not authorize you to work for any other organization or position, paid or unpaid.

CPT is authorized on a quarter-basis.  If you would like to extend your internship or work for a different employer during another quarter, you must enroll in PPHA 51200 again and submit the above application documents to extend your CPT authorization.  Work performed outside the dates indicated on your I-20 is considered unlawful employment and can result in the termination of your F-1 status.

Final notes: 
* Harris students can also receive CPT authorization by enrolling in PPHA 50000 for credit.
* Students with internships at recognized international organizations can also obtain off-campus work authorization through USCIS.  See Employment with International Organization or contact OIA regarding the differences between CPT and International Organization authorization.

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