CPT (Immigration)

Basic information

  • Owner(s):
  • Applies to:
    • Prospective Students
    • Current Students
  • Approved by:
    • International Admissions
  • Issued: December 1, 2021
  • Last updated: December 1, 2021

CPT (curricular practical training) is a work authorization that allows students to work off-campus in jobs directly related to their major. To qualify for CPT, you must: 

  • Have completed a full school year in the U.S. (one fall semester and one spring semester).
    • For example, if you came to Calvin in Fall 2019, the earliest you could do CPT would be Summer 2020. If you came to Calvin in Spring 2020, the earliest you could do CPT would be December 2020 (after the end of the fall semester).
  • Find a job or internship directly related to your major.
    • Jobs/internships under CPT do not have to match your major 100%. However, most of what you do on a daily basis in the job or internship should be closely related to your major.
    • If you are unsure whether a job/internship is directly related to your major, send the job description to the immigration coordinator. If necessary, faculty in your department will also be consulted.
  • Enroll in a course that requires the internship.
    • Every major has a 383 course that requires an internship (EDUC 383, NURS 383, etc.)
    • There is no ENGR 383; the engineering department uses ENGR 385 and has their own procedure.
    • Some majors have other internship courses that also qualify for CPT.
    • 383 courses and ENGR 385 may be repeated for multiple semesters.
    • Required internships for Chicago Semester, student teaching, semester in D.C., etc. also qualify for CPT. If you participate in one of these programs, make sure your internship is directly related to your major.

There is no limit on the length of time you may participate in CPT. However, 12 months or more of full-time CPT will disqualify you from OPT. Less than 12 months of full-time CPT has no effect on OPT, and part-time CPT also has no effect on OPT. 

The process for getting CPT depends on which course you are taking that requires the internship: 

If you are taking a 383 course, the steps for getting CPT authorization are as follows: 

  1. Find an internship directly related to your major.
  2. Enroll in your major’s 383 course here: https://calvin.tfaforms.net/93
  3. Obtain a letter from your employer following the format laid out in this form: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/intercultural-student-development/files/international-students/cpt-employers-offer-letter-template.pdf
  4. Using information from the letter you received, fill out the bottom of the form found in step 3.
  5. Send both the letter AND the completed form from step 3 to the immigration coordinator.
  6. You may not start working until you receive your new I-20. You many only work during the dates indicated on page 2. If you intend to continue working after these dates, see extension procedures.  

If you are taking a different course (including ENGR 385) that requires an internship, the steps for getting CPT authorization are as follows: 

  1. Find an internship directly related to your major.
  2. Fill out this academic recommendation form. There are parts for you and parts for your academic advisor to complete: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/intercultural-student-development/files/international-students/cpt-academic-recommendation.pdf
  3. Engineering students should ask Professor Ermer to fill out the recommendation, not their academic advisor.  
    Obtain a letter from your employer following the format laid out in this form: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/intercultural-student-development/files/international-students/cpt-employers-offer-letter-template.pdf
  4. Using information from the letter you received, fill out the bottom of the form found in step 3.
  5. Send the completed academic recommendation from step 2 and both the letter AND the completed form from step 3 to the immigration coordinator.
  6. You may not start working until you receive your new I-20. You may only work during the dates indicated on page 2. If you intend to continue working after these dates, see extension procedures.

CPT requires a start date and end date from the beginning. Please work with your employer to determine a hard and fast end date for your job or internship before you begin the paperwork. Extending the end date part way through the internship is strongly discouraged, and such changes cannot always be accommodated. 

CPT is authorized one semester at a time, and authorization for the semester ends at the end of the semester. You must be enrolled in a course that requires the job or internship for the entire duration of the job or internship.  

If your job or internship spans multiple semesters, you will need to apply for CPT before each of those semesters begins.  

Example: If you participate in an internship from August 1 until September 30, you will need to enroll in both the summer and fall sections of the course that requires your internship. You will also need to submit the CPT forms with dates for the summer and then again for the fall.   

Q: What is required of my company if we hire a current international student?

A: The student will ask you for a brief letter before beginning employment, and sometimes periodically after that. Students may need to update their I-9 more frequently than other employees, since their work authorization can only be granted one semester at a time. 

Q: How should we handle the I-9 for an international student?

A: USCIS guidance on I-9s can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9  

Q: Is this sponsorship?

A: No, you are not sponsoring the student.  

Q: How long can students work under CPT?

A: CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. It can be renewed for as long as the student enrolls in courses that require the employment. 

Q: What if I want to continue employing a student after they graduate?

A: International students may apply for a one-year work authorization called OPT. Students with a qualifying STEM major may apply for an additional two-year extension if they work for a company enrolled in E-verify (details about the STEM extension are here). Companies interested in continuing to employ an international student after the one or three years of OPT would need to sponsor the worker for a work visa, such as H1-B.  

Q: Who can I contact with questions?

A: Calvin’s immigration coordinator, Brent Wilkinson, can be reached at bw28@calvin.edu or 616-526-6897. 

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