Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

About CPT

Curricular practical training (CPT) is an F-1 off-campus work authorization option for employment which is: 1) required for all students in your degree program, 2) required for a credit-bearing course that will count towards your degree, or 3) for 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 students 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 cannot begin work until your CPT has been approved, you have the I-20 showing CPT in hand, and the CPT start date printed on your I-20 has been reached.  Working outside of the dates or working for an employer other than the one listed on your I-20 is unlawful.  CPT cannot be approved with a start date that is in the past. 

CPT eligibility requirements include:

  • Valid F-1 status
  • Full-time enrollment for one academic year (three quarters) prior to quarter when work is performed
  • Enrollment in a degree program (non-degree students are not eligible for CPT)
  • CPT option available in your department (see below)*
  • A specific job offer that meets your department's CPT requirements
  • The job occurs before your I-20 end date

*CPT options vary from department to department.  Your indiviudal department may or may not have a CPT option available.

Timing and Hour limitations

CPT can be used only before the program end date listed on your I-20.  After your program end date, your only employment authorization option is post-completion OPT.

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 and maintain eligibility for CPT throughout. As long as you otherwise remain eligible, there are no restrictions to the length of time you can use CPT.

When Should I Apply?

CPT Processing takes one week to be approved and work authorization cannot be authorized for a start date in the past.  You must apply for CPT at least one week before your job start date.  We recommend applying at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your work start date. Due to a large volume of applications, OIA cannot accomodate expedited processing requests. Please make sure to plan ahead.

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. Co-Operative 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.

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 documents to OIA at least one week before your job starts.  We cannot accomodate expedited processing requests. 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:

  1. Drop off all three documents listed below in hard copy at the OIA front desk.  You can drop them off on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary.
    OR
  2. Upload the documents to the Online CPT Application Form. In this case, you do not need to come to OIA to submit your application.

Please only use one method to submit your application.  Submitting both an online and hardcopy application will delay your application.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:

1. CPT Request Form (not needed if submitting through the Online CPT Application Form)

2. CPT Employment Letter Template: Note: this is not your offer letter*. To prevent application delays, we strongly recommend using the template letter linked above. Your must submit a signed offer letter from your prospective employer, on letterhead stationery, which includes:

  • Your job title
  • Your specifc job duties
  • The precise 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).
  • The exact location of the training, which means the entire address including: street, city, state, and zip code.

*Important note: Your employer letter must contain all information listed on the template above. 99% of the time your offer letter will not suffice for CPT application purposes.  If you are going to submit an offer letter, please highlight where all of the required information is on the letter.  Note that submission of an insufficient employer letter will delay your application processing.

3. 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:  Bring hard copies of all documents to OIA's front desk to drop off or upload onto the Online CPT Application Form.  We cannot accept application documents over email.  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

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. CPT is available to Booth MBA and PhD students only.

APPLICATION PROCESS

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.

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. Working outside of the dates or working for an employer other than the one listed on your I-20 is unlawful.

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. If you need to extend your CPT authorization beyond the initial time period, you must submit a new, complete application at least one week before your current CPT end date . Failure to do so will result in the termination of your F-1 record.

SSN

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.

ELIGIBILITY FOR CPT

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).   Your CPT eligibility ends on your I-20 end date.

CPT is authorized on a quarterly basis only.  Each quarter of CPT requires a separate, complete application.  If your internships 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.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Once you have accepted a Metcalf internship offer that requires CPT, you can apply for work authorization through our office.  There are two ways to apply for Metcalf-based CPT authorization. Please only use one method to submit your application.  Submitting both an online and hardcopy application will delay your application.:

OPTION 1:  Upload and submit your documents through the Online Metcalf CPT Request Form (required documents linked below)

-OR-

OPTION 2:  If you do not have access to a scanner, you can drop off the following three documents to the OIA front desk in hard copy:

  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: Note: this is not your offer letter* 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.

    *IMPORTANT NOTE: Your employer letter must contain ALL INFORMATION LISTED on the template above. 99% of the time your offer letter will not suffice for CPT application purposes.  If you are going to submit an offer letter, please highlight where all of the required information is on the letter.  Note that submission of an insufficient employer letter will delay your application processing.

OIA requires one week to process your application. We cannot accomodate expedite requests.  When your CPT has been approved, you will receive a new I-20 with the details of your CPT authorization on page 3. 

WORKING ON CPT

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, you must submit a new, complete application at least one week before your current CPT end date. Work performed outside of the dates specified on your I-20 is considered unlawful employment and will result in termination of your F-1 status. 

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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.  We cannot accomodate expedited processing requests. 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:

  1. Drop off all three documents listed below in hard copy at the OIA front desk.  You can drop them off on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary.
    OR
  2. Upload the documents to the Online CPT Application Form. In this case, you do not need to come to OIA to submit your application.

Please only use one method to submit your application.  Submitting both an online and hardcopy application will delay your application.

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.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Your employer letter must contain ALL INFORMATION LISTED on the template above. 99% of the time your offer letter will not suffice for CPT application purposes.  If you are going to submit an offer letter, please highlight where all of the required information is on the letter.  Note that submission of an insufficient employer letter will delay your application processing.

3)      Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by your Academic Adviser in Harris student affairs. 

AFTER YOU APPLY

Your CPT application will take one week to process. We cannot accomodate expedited processing requests. 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

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.

Students pursuing the Master's in Computational Social Science will have the opportunity to participate in The Computational Social Science Internship Program which will be implemented starting Summer 2017. 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.  We cannot accommodate expedited processing requests. 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:

OPTION 1: Drop off all three documents listed below in hard copy at the OIA front desk.  You can drop them off on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary.

1)      CPT Request Form

2)      CPT Employment Letter TemplateNote: 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 offer letter for this purpose.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Your employer letter must contain ALL INFORMATION LISTED on the template above. 99% of the time your offer letter will not suffice for CPT application purposes.  If you are going to submit an offer letter, please highlight where all of the required information is on the letter.  Note that submission of an insufficient employer letter will delay your application processing.

3)      Faculty Member CPT Recommendation Form: This document will be completed and signed by the faculty member that is responsible for the CPT course.

OPTION 2: Upload the documents to the Online CPT Application Form. In this case, you do not need to come to OIA to submit your application.

Note: 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. Working outside of the dates or working for an employer other than the one listed on your I-20 is unlawful.

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 the 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 a new, complete application at least one week before your current CPT expires. Failure to do so will result in the termination of your F-1 record.

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 website.

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