International Student Scholar Services

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is any off-campus employment in the form of internships, practicums, etc. CPT requires employment authorization in advance.  All internships must be approved by the Career Center to be eligible for CPT.  

All students on CPT must report changes in personal information as well as employment information to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at Columbia College Chicago within 10 days. Failure to receive pre-authorization could result in a status violation of your F-1 visa. 

Here's how to start the process: 

Once you have an internship, request approval for your internship at Internship Credit Request

  1. Please be sure to fill out all information.  You must include a start date and an end date along with the complete address (including the postal code of the internship site.  I cannot sign incomplete contracts and they will be returned to you for correction if it is sent to me incomplete. 
  2. Once your internship is approved, the career center will send the completed contract to me to sign.  If complete, I will sign it and issue your new I-20 for CPT. 
  3. Do not start your internship (especially if it is paid) until you have a new I-20 as it could be considered a violation of your student visa status. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

How to Apply Online for Post-Completion OPT

DO NOT submit your online OPT application without your new I-20 with your OPT recommendation on page 2.   Failure to get a new I-20 issued BEFORE you submit your online application will result in a denial of your application and the loss of your application fee.  To request your new I-20 from ISSS, see details at the end of these instructions.  

The online version of the I-765 application is similar to the paper process and requires you to submit the same information.  

Regardless of the method you choose to apply for post-completion OPT, either online or by paper, please remember that the I-765 application is your personal application for employment authorization. It is your responsibility to follow all USCIS instructions and ensure that you submit all the necessary documents required for OPT approval. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at Columbia College Chicago will NOT have access to your application and cannot correct, edit, or change any information on your application for you. ISSS can provide some guidance and will offer several information sessions to guide you through the OPT application process, but it is the student’s responsibility to ensure your I-765 is complete and accurate.  All supporting documents should be submitted with the initial application.  Failure to request a new I-20 with your OPT authorization BEFORE filing almost always results in a denial of your application.  The application fee is non-refundable. 

Please follow these steps to file online.   

Step 1: Prepare Your Documents

When you submit the online I-765 application for Post-Completion OPT, you will need to have the following documents ready to upload.  

Save all documents as .pdf or .jpeg documents and follow USCIS's requirements for file names. Do not use foreign characters.   


  1. Passport Identification page.
  2. Form I-94 arrival record - retrieve your most recent I-94 record and save as a .pdf    
  3. Digital Photos - you must prepare a digital passport-style photo taken within the last thirty days and the photo must follow the U.S. Department of State Photo Composition Template. Be sure to check that your photo file has an acceptable name that follows USCIS's file name formatting outlined in the instructions and is saved as either a .jpeg / .jpg or .png file type. The online OPT application has a photo tool you can use to check your photo. If you are taking your own photos, this link may help you:  
  4. Any I-20s with CPT authorization or previous OPT authorization, if applicable. Include any I-20s with CPT authorization from Columbia College Chicago or any school you previously attended.
  5. An I-20 from a previous school or degree program, if applicable. The online application does not explicitly ask for this, but it is recommended you include previous I-20(s) as unsolicited evidence. 
  6. Any previously issued Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) cards, if applicable
  7. Your new OPT I-20 obtained from the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
    1. Once you have read through this entire application packet and are ready to apply, please request your new I-20 got OPT per the instructions at the end of this document. 
    2. Be sure to sign your new I-20 in ink at the bottom of page 1, in the "Student Attestation" section
    3. Confirm your I-20 has your OPT recommendation with the requested start date.

Step 2: Create Your myUSCIS Account

 Step 3: Prepare and Submit Your Online I-765 Application for Post-Completion OPT

Important Notes on Timing: You will be able to save and return to the application at a later time and date, but you should complete all application steps and submit your application within 30 days of your OPT I-20 issuance date or your application will be denied. 

Section 1: “Getting Started”

 Section 2: “About You”

 Section 3: “Evidence”

To complete the online I-765 form, you will need to upload required documents and evidence, which you should have already prepared.  Refer to specific instructions in Step One.   

Section 4: “Additional Information” 

This section is to provide additional explanation or information for your responses in your I-765 or for your uploaded evidence. This section does not allow for uploads.

In this section you can include additional information such as:

Previous SEVIS ID #s or previous academic studies (Section: About You; Page: Your immigration information; Question: What is your SEVIS number?)

If you have missing I-20s for previously authorized CPT or OPT, include those details (Section: Evidence, Page: Form I-20, Question: I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status)


Section 5: Review and Submit

 MyUSCIS will review your I-765 for completeness.  It is your responsibility to check that all uploaded documents are correct.   Correct any errors under the “alerts and warnings” section. If there are no alerts or warnings, your I-765 has been checked for completeness. There is an option to print this page or save your draft I-765 as a .pdf file. Please review your application for accuracy and save a copy for your records. 

Section 6:   Submit Payment 

Do NOT submit your online OPT application without your new I-20 with your OPT recommendation.

Step 4: Monitor Your Account for Updates and Follow-up 

Monitor Your myUSCIS Portal 

After you have submitted your OPT application, you are responsible for monitoring your USCIS account for messages and updates. Through your account, you should be able to: 

It is recommended that you notify International Student and Scholar Services if USCIS requests any additional information regarding your case, so that we can help to advise you on your options. 

Change of U.S. Address 

While your OPT is processing, it is recommended you do not change your mailing address. If you believe you will move during your OPT application process, please use a friend or family member’s address as your mailing address.

 If you need to change your US address and need to have your EAD sent to another US mailing address, you should update your address information in your USCIS account portal by following the change of address instructions on USCIS's Tips for Filing Forms Online page. 

Remember, it is a requirement of your F-1 status to make address updates within 10 days of any change. Once your OPT is approved, you can make address updates at the SEVP Portal. If you need to update your address while your OPT is pending, update your mailing address on your MyColumbia student account and ISSS will be notified automatically to update your address in SEVIS.   


STEP ONE:  Undergraduate students – (Graduate students proceed to step two) Your academic advisor must confirm you will complete your degree in the semester you are applying for OPT. ISSS cannot issue your new I-20 without confirmation from your advisor.  Please have them e-mail  You may use this sample e-mail for your request: 

Dear (academic advisor)

     In order to apply for OPT, International Student and Scholar Services requires confirmation that I am on track to graduate at the end of the SEMESTER/DATE.  Could you please send an e-mail to to confirm that if I successfully complete this semester, I will finish my degree.




STEP TWO:  Once ISSS has confirmation of your degree completion (or if you are a graduate student, step one is not required), please e-mail your desired start date and attach a signed copy of the Student’s Responsibilities for OPT.   ISSS will issue your I-20 within 3 business days after receiving your request.  

 Reporting Requirements while on OPT:  Post-Completion of Studies

All students on post-completion OPT must create an SEVP Portal account within 30 days of OPT approval.  During their OPT, they must report changes in personal information as well as any changes in employment information in the SEVP Portal within 10 days of any change. 


Changes in Personal Information include:

Changes in Employment Include:

If you have not updated your employment within 90 days of your OPT start date, you may be considered out of status and your immigration record could be terminated. If this happens, you should make plans to depart the US immediately.

ISSS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommend that students also keep clear written or electronic records of all periods of employment and unemployment while on OPT.  This information should include: job title; proof of employment duration (start and end dates); number of hours worked per week; location; contact information for supervisor/manager; description of work responsibilities; and, evidence that work performed is/was related to your field of study. Please note, the ISSS office is not responsible for any record keeping.

It is also a good idea to keep records of any pay stubs, W-2 forms, copies of contracts, offer letters, and, employment verification letters.