Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

About CPT

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an F-1 off-campus work authorization option for paid or unpaid internships, externships, or jobs which are:

  1. required for all students in your degree program
  2. required for a credit-bearing course that will count towards your degree
  3. part of an established co-operative educational agreement between your department and employer (i.e. Jeff Metcalf Internships in the College).

The type of CPT requirement, for your degree, course, or co-op internship affects the conditions and the application process.  Non-degree visiting students (NDVS) or students in non-degree exchange programs are not eligible for CPT.

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.

CPT Eligibility and Time Restraints

Eligibility to Work

You can start your internship or employment only after CPT is approved and reflected on an updated I-20 and the start date is reached. Working without appropriate authorization is unlawful and may negatively impact your immigration status.  CPT cannot be approved with a start date that is in the past. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Full-time enrollment for one academic year (three quarters) or in a program requiring CPT in the first academic year

Timing and Hour limitations

CPT is available to students while they are in their academic program. If you are graduating, CPT may not be available to you.  Other considerations:

  • CPT is approved on a quarterly basis only
  • If your job will last longer than one quarter, you must submit a new, complete CPT application for each new segment
  • CPT is date, employer, and location specific; any adjustments need to be reported for a corrected CPT authorization

When to apply?

CPT Processing takes one week to be approved and work authorization cannot be authorized for a start date in the past.  We recommend applying at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your work start date. In fairness to your fellow students who have applied on-time, OIA cannot accommodate requests to expedite processing.  

CPT and OPT

When you apply for CPT, you can indicate if you are applying for part-time CPT (under 20 hours/week) or full-time CPT (over 20 hours/week).  If you use one year (12 months) of full time CPT, you will be ineligible for OPT.  Other than that, CPT has no effect on OPT eligibility. Using CPT will not subtract from your available OPT time.

Types of CPT

CPT can be authorized under three circumstances only:

  1. Degree based CPT: Employment that is a graduation requirement for all students in specific degree program.
  2. Course based CPT: Employment that is required for a specific credit-bearing course that will count towards your degree.
  3. Cooperative CPT: Employment that is part of an established, formal co-operative educational agreement between your department and a specific employer (e.g. College Metcalf internships)

More information about these options can be found below.

CPT Types and Application Instructions

About 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 and the application takes 7-10 days for approval.
  • 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 before OIA can authorize 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 (e.g. students in SSA), 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 or you must take the course before you perform the CPT work, e.g. taking the course in spring and working under CPT during the summer. OIA will authorize CPT employment for only one quarter at a time.

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Application Process for Course-Based and Degree-Based CPT

Submit the following documents to OIA at least one week before your job starts.  You do not need to see an adviser unless you have specific questions. If you would like to meet with an adviser, you must schedule an appointment in advance; advisers are not generally available on a walk-in basis.

Upload all three documents listed below to the Online CPT Application Form. Please do not email your international adviser attached copies of the CPT forms. Hard copy requests will not be accepted.  

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:

  • Online CPT Request Form
  • CPT Employment Letter Template  to prevent application delays, we strongly recommend using the template letter via the link. You must submit a signed offer letter from your prospective employer, which includes:
    • Your job title;
    • The beginning and end dates of employment;
    • Whether the employment will be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week); and
    • The exact location of the training, which means the entire address including: street, city, state, and zip code
  • Proof that your employment for CPT will be satisfying a degree requirement or a course requirement.
    • For a degree requirement (SSA students): Provide a letter from 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. Please provide your Dean of Students with the Degree Requirement CPT Recommendation Form.
    • 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).

Submission: Upload onto the Online CPT Application Form.  We cannot accept application documents via email or as hard copies.  CPT processing takes one week. You will receive an email when the new I-20 showing CPT authorization is ready for pick up or if additional documentation is needed.

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Application Process for Co-Operative CPT

CPT for students at Chicago Booth

F-1 MBA students at Booth use CPT for off-campus internships typically during summer quarter between years one and two. CPT for MBA students is course-based and requires approval from the Dean of Students. The CPT course that is typically used is 31303 - Field Research.

Booth PhD students are also eligible for course-based CPT after completing 3 quarters of full-time enrollment. Before you can apply, you must first receive approval from the Booth PhD office (Malaina.Brown@chicagobooth.edu). PhD students are also required to enroll in 31303 – Field Research.

APPLICATION PROCESS

To apply, you must obtain a "CPT employer letter" (template) from your employer. Because CPT is employer- and date-specific, we require specific information on company letterhead and signed by your prospective employer. These requirements include:

  • Your job title
  • Your specifc job duties
  • The precise start and end dates of employment
  • Whether the employment will be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
  • The exact location of the training, which means the entire address including: street, city, state, and zip code

Next, you will need to take this letter to Academic Services to enroll in Business 31303 - Field Research and receive the CPT Recommendation Form (signed by the Dean of Students).

Once you have both the employer letter and recommendation form, you can submit both documents through the Booth CPT Request Form online. Please allow up to 1 week for processing.

PhD students should follow the instructions for Course-Based CPT (above).

WORKING ON CPT

You cannot begin work until your CPT has been approved and the CPT start date printed on your I-20 has been reached. You must have your physical I-20 showing the CPT to begin working. 

If you will need a Social Security number for this internship and do not currently have one, you can review SSN information and application instructions on our webiste.

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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. General reminders:

  • to be eligible for CPT, you must have been enrolled as a full-time student for the three quarters directly preceding your employment. 
  • If you are returning from a Leave of Absence, you are ineligible for CPT if you have not met this requirement. 
  • Each separate segment of CPT (i.e. different employers, or different opportunities through the same employer such as Parker Dewey) requires a separate, complete application.
  • CPT for the same employer/same internship can only be authorized for a maximum of one quarter at a time.
  • If your internship spans multiple quarters or shifts from full-time to part-time, you will need to submit a separate application for each segment.
  • A "quarter" can include the vacation period preceding or following the quarter.  For example, Winter quarter CPT could also include winter and/or spring break, in addition to when courses are in session.

ELIGIBILITY FOR CPT

Internships coordinated through the Career Advancement Metcalf Fellows Program and Micro-Metcalf Program fall under the category of cooperative education. As such, international students who receive employer-funded Metcalf internships should apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Please note:

  • Off-campus Metcalf internships funded by a grant from the College require CPT authorization. 
  • Unpaid off-campus internships also require CPT authorization.
  • On-campus Metcalf internships (work performed for the University of Chicago) do not require CPT.
  • If you found an internship on your own, you will need to work with Career Advancement to have the opportunity recognized by the Metcalf program. For more, contact Nadejda Casperson in Career Advancement. 

For Micro-Metcalf Interns: When asked to confirm your eligibility for CPT, you can send an email to Sarah Tolman (stolman@uchicago.edu) to receive this confirmation. If you require expedited processing, you may contact Sarah for further guidance.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Once you have accepted a Metcalf or Micro-Metcalf internship offer that requires CPT, you can apply for work authorization through our office.  

Upload and submit your documents through the Online Metcalf CPT Request Form (required documents linked below)

  1. Online CPT Request Form
  2. Metcalf Award Letter (copy) from Career Advancement: This letter/email 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.

OIA typically requires one week to process your application.  When your CPT has been approved, you will receive a new I-20 with the details of your CPT authorization on page 2. 

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CPT for Harris School of Public Policy 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 Harris internship program (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 visa that is sponsored by the employer. 

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). 

APPLICATION PROCESS

Submit the following documents to OIA at least one week before your job starts.  You do not need to see an adviser unless you have specific questions. If you would like to meet with an adviser, you must schedule an appointment in advance; advisers are not generally available on a walk-in basis

Upload the documents to the Online CPT Application Form. Hard copy requests will not be accepted.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:

  1. CPT Request Form
  2. CPT Employment Letter Template: Note: this is not your job offer letter.  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. Please do not submit your job ofer letter for this purpose.
  3.  Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by your Academic Adviser in Harris student affairs. 

AFTER YOU APPLY

You will receive an email when the new I-20 is ready to pick up or if additional information is needed.  The approved CPT dates and employer will be printed on page 2 of your I-20.  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 is employer and date specific. You are only eligible to work for the employer listed and only during the dates specified.  

CPT is authorized on a quarterly 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.

OTHER NOTES: 

  • Harris students can also receive CPT authorization by enrolling in PPHA 50000 for credit.
  • If you have an internship at a recognized international organization prior to your I-20 end date, you might also be able to 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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CPT for Computational Social Science students

Students pursuing the Master's in Computational Social Science will have the opportunity to participate in The Computational Social Science Internship Program. F-1 students become eligible for CPT after 3 quarters of full-time enrollment, so you will become eligible for this program after you complete your first year in the CSS program. All students must register for MACS 95000, “Computation MA Internship,” for the duration of their internships.

HOW TO APPLY

Submit the following documents to OIA at least one week before your job starts.  You do not need to see an adviser unless you have specific questions. If you would like to meet with an adviser, you must schedule an appointment in advance; advisers are not generally available on a walk-in basis. Choose one of the following ways to submit your application:

Upload all three documents listed below to the Online CPT Application Form. Hard copy requests will not be accepted.

  1. CPT Request Form
  2. CPT Employment Letter TemplateCPT 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. Please do not submit your job offer letter for this purpose.
  3. Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by the faculty member that is responsible for the CPT course.

Upload the documents to the Online CPT Application Form

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CPT for Graham School MSCA Students

MSCA students can be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for off-campus internships by enrolling in the MSCA internship program. Students are typically eligible to participate in the internship program during their fourth quarter of study. Students must enroll for the quarter in which they will be employed. 

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 or work, you must obtain Optional Practical Training (OPT) or another type of work visa that is sponsored by the employer. 

CPT is employer and date specific, so you must have a job offer to apply.  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). 

APPLICATION PROCESS

Submit the following documents to OIA at least one week before your job starts.  You do not need to see an adviser unless you have specific questions. If you would like to meet with an adviser, you must schedule an appointment in advance; advisers are not generally available on a walk-in basis. 

Upload all three documents listed below to the Online CPT Application Form. Hard copy requests will not be accepted.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:

  1. CPT Request Form
  2. CPT Employment Letter Template: Note: this is not your job offer letter.  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. Please do not submit your job ofer letter for this purpose.
  3. Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by your Academic Adviser in Harris student affairs. 

AFTER YOU APPLY

You will receive an email when the new I-20 is ready to pick up or if additional information is needed.  The approved CPT dates and employer will be printed on page 2 of your I-20.  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 is employer and date specific. You are only eligible to work for the employer listed and only during the dates specified.  

CPT is authorized on a quarterly basis.  If you would like to extend your internship or work for a different employer during another quarter, you must enroll in internship program 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.

OTHER NOTES:

  • MScA's Student and Academic Affairs also requires you to submit an Educational Training Plan that needs to be completed by you and your employer. This document can be obtained from the Student and Academic Affaris Office.
  • Remember to work with the Student and Academic Affairs office to familiarize yourself with hour requirements and limitations while on CPT.

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