International Students


If you are studying at USA on a student visa, there is a special program to enable you to work in the USA in an internship while you are enrolled at the University. The purpose of an internship is for students to gain valuable job experience in their field of study while still at University, by working at a company doing work or research which is directly related to the student’s field of study. The program is based on the US Immigration rules for obtaining a new, work-authorized I-20 visa. This is separate from any employment an international student may find on campus. To fully understand the program, please attend a presentation made to students by the UIC Office of International Services. Get to know the OIS website for important information about meetings, workshops, activities, etc.

NEW: The CPT application process has changed and now requires a new letter of support to confirm to the United States government how an external internship is integral to your academic program at UIC (see page 4 of the CPT application below). Therefore, in order to complete your CPT application you will need to schedule an appointment with the Engineering Career Center. Please visit our ECC staff page and click on the staff member to find who you should schedule an appointment with for your CPT based on your academic program.

Access the CPT Application here

Complete the CPT Checklist for Spring 2018
When filling out your CPT forms for Spring 2018, on Page 3 (Filled out by employer) the start date cannot be before January 15th and the end date cannot be after May 11th. If you would like to work over the Winter break and your employer allows it, contact the ECC for further details.

The program for internships is titled CPT (Curricular Practical Training).
There are two main points to remember:

  1. Approval is given on CPT student applications by the Engineering Career Center (ECC) only; no other department within the College of Engineering gives approval on your CPT application. On the new CPT form, it is printed that for ENGR students, the ECC is the department that must sign, even though you will see that other colleges on campus have their department heads or coordinators sign. Each unit on campus is different. The ECC office tracks all CPT applications, approvals by OIS, registration for the required zero-credit course you must take, the things you must do to pass that course, and also gives you your grade in the course.
  2. Once you have approval from ECC, ECC will unlock the course registration system for you so that you can register for ENGR 289. You will register for this course prior to taking your signed application to OIS.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is CPT vs. OPT?

CPT = Curricular Practical Training and is the term that is used by US Immigration to refer to an internship, a co-operative education program, or a practicum. All international students who wish to work in their field of study while in the USA must apply for a change of Visa status in order to get permission to work in the US. At UIC, we make it very easy, and this department (Engineering Career Center, SEO 820, 818, 816) works with OIS (UIC Office of International Services) to do the paperwork. Please read below and attend one of the monthly OIS meetings on CPT.

OPT = Occupational Practical Training and is handled only by the Office of International Services, not by any other office on campus. OPT is what students apply for to become eligible to work temporarily in the US after graduating from UIC.

See the people in OIS with OPT and CPT questions. They are the experts.

When may I start working in a CPT?

There are two answers to this question.

  1. Students must attend a US college/university AS A FULL TIME STUDENT in a DEGREE-SEEKING program for a fall term and spring term of coursework prior to being able to start in a CPT position. If the student studies at a college or university other than UIC and then transfers to UIC, the student must complete 1 TERM at UIC before doing a CPT.
  2. You must have a formal, written offer from a company, asking you to accept an internship position before you come to the ECC with your CPT application form and copy of the internship offer letter. Normally, the internship job offer is typed on the company stationery, with company logo/heading, address, etc. The letter will explain what the offer is for, what your position will be, how much you will be paid, and what the start and end dates are for the job. The end date is the last day of the school term. You must bring a copy of that written job offer to the ECC office plus a CPT application form. Complete your parts of the form prior to coming to the ECC. Make sure you fill in the company address where you will be working. The rest is completed by the ECC.

How many hours can I work in CPT?

During the summer break you may work full time, which is 40 hours per week. During the fall or spring terms, while enrolled for classes at UIC, you may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Working more than 20 hours per week during the fall or spring term will violate the terms of your student visa.

How long does CPT last?

Each CPT is for one school term. It may be for fall, spring, or summer. Every single term that you are working in a CPT, you must put in a new CPT application and get a new I-20 that is connected to that term and that employer. The CPT ends on the last day of the school term in which you are working.

What forms do I bring to the Engineering Career Center to start the CPT process and what is the sequence of events?


Registration is slightly different between students who are US Citizens and Permanent Residents v. International Students. What is the same is this:

  1. The student turns in paperwork to the ECC (this includes a written job offer)
  2. ECC unlocks the course registration for ENGR 289 so that the student may register
  3. The student registers online for ENGR 289

Paperwork – what it includes:

  1. Written job offer – You need a written job offer from the company that wishes to hire you. It should be on company letterhead, and say:
    • What the job is
    • When you are to start your internship
    • When the internship will end, which must be at the end of the term – check with ECC
    • Where the internship is located
    • Who you will be reporting to
    • Your pay rate (hourly pay rate or monthly amount)
  2. CPT (Curricular Practical Training) for International Students – If you are an International Student, you must apply for and be approved for CPT before you may work off-campus. It may take up to 14 days or so for OIS to receive your new I-20 form. You may not work until you have that new I-20 in your hand. Each work authorization (new I-20) is for one term only. It may be for a fall, spring, or summer term; there are rules for how many hours you may work. For any subsequent off-campus work, the international student must apply for a new CPT, even if the work is to be done for the same company. You will need a job offer letter as shown in (1) above plus the 5-page CPT application. Follow the instructions you will find in the following web link to the Office of International Services at UIC. Download the 5-page CPT application packet and read all instructions: CPT Application

CPT Process: Page 3 of the CPT application is to be completed by the company making you the job offer. Please have that page completed before you bring all the paperwork to the ECC for approval. Please contact the ECC to set a time to review the application and job offer letter. (When filling out your CPT forms for Summer 2016, on Page 3, the start date cannot be before May 9th and the end date cannot be after August 19th)

Your CPT application process is complete after:

    • The ECC has reviewed your documents and signed off on them
    • The ECC has unlocked ENGR 289 registration for you
    • You have registered for ENGR 289
    • You have had an in-person meeting with a representative of the UIC Office of International Services (OIS). Set up an appointment in advance or use their “drop in” hours posted on the OIS website. Stay in contact with OIS to find out if your application has been approved and when your new I-20 has arrived.

How long will it take to process my new I-20?

From the time you drop off the CPT application at OIS (after you have met with ECC), it can take up to 14 days.

Is there any cost involved with completing CPT?

ENGR 289 is not a class that you attend. It is a process which adds the CPT to your permanent UIC transcript. IF YOU ARE DOING A PART-TIME CPT DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR (fall or spring term) IT COSTS YOU NOTHING. BUT, IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO A CPT IN THE *SUMMER* – WHEN YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED FOR ANY COURSES, *you must pay for UIC registration.* You *must be registered for the summer* – proving that you are a current student in order to get the USA work authorization. The fees for summer registration will cost you money. Please check website for the Office of the Registrar to learn more about tuition fees associated with ENGR 289.
Fees are generally between $1,000 and $2,000 USD. Make sure to read all details and contact the University Registrar with payment questions.

How do I pass ENGR 289?

Please read the section on ENGR 289 at the link below and see the items that must be completed and turned in to this office prior to the end of your internship in order for you to pass the course. One is a form to be completed by your immediate supervisor at your internship site, one is an evaluation survey completed by you. ENGR 289 details

Do you have more detailed questions regarding CPT or OPT?
Contact the Office of International Services (OIS) at UIC: 312-996-3121 or visit the OIS website for more information.