Employment for International Students

Employment for International StudentsIMG_5517

There are several types of employment available to international students in F-1 status, which are listed below.  Students in other non-immigrant statuses may not work on or off-campus unless authorized to do so by U.S. immigration law.   The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website contains additional information on obtaining employment authorization in the U.S.

On-campus Employment

International Students in F-1 status are allowed by immigration law to work on campus a maximum of 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters.  However, F-1 students may work full-time on-campus during the summer (annual vacation) or during other official university breaks.

Working on-campus more than 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters is prohibited by immigration law and will result in the termination of your F-1 visa status.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of work authorization granted to F-1 students by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to work in their field of study.  F-1 students are eligible to apply

  • After one full academic year of full-time enrollment
  • If they have maintained their F-1 status.

A maximum period of 12 months per degree level can be granted.  Students can choose to use OPT while they are completing their program of study (Pre-completion OPT) or after graduation (Post-completion OPT).  Students are eligible for an additional 12 months with each higher degree level.

How to Apply

  1. You must attend an OPT workshop to obtain the OPT packet and learn about the application process. OPT workshops are offered a couple of times each Fall and Spring semester.  Check with the Office of International Student Services for the most up to date workshop schedule.
  2. Gather all of the required documents.
  3. Schedule an appointment with the Director of International Student Services.  During the appointment she will help you the OPT packet together and request OPT through SEVIS.
  4. Submit your application to USCIS

When to Apply

  • Students applying for OPT prior to completion of studies can submit the application 120 days prior to the desired start date or 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year.
  • Students applying for Post-completion OPT can submit the application 90 days prior to the date of completion.
  • Applications for OPT following completion of studies must be filed prior to the end of the 60 day grace period following graduation.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training [CPT] is a form of employment authorization that allows F-1 students to work off- campus in practicum or internships, which are required for a course or the student’s major.  The requirements of CPT are:

  • The internship/practicum/research must be directly related to the student’s field of study and an integral part of the academic program.
  • Enrollment for at least one academic year prior to beginning CPT.
  • The student must receive academic credit and an evaluation for the internship/practicum/research.

How to Apply

  1. Enroll in the course which requires the internship or practicum.
  2. Meet with your academic advisor to complete the Curricular Practical Training Agreement form (Link to the form).
  3. Schedule an appointment with the Director of International Student Services to have your CPT approved.
  4. You will be given a new I-20 with the CPT authorization during the appointment.

When to Apply

You must schedule an appointment with the Director of International Student Services two weeks before your internship or practicum is scheduled to begin.

Economic Hardship

Federal Immigration Regulations state, “If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request off campus employment work authorization based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.”

To qualify for Economic Hardship work authorization, a student must meet the following conditions:

  • Have experienced hardship due to a reason listed in the immigration regulations.  These include, “loss of financial and/or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
  • Enrolled for one academic year of full-time enrollment
  • Are maintaining their F-1 status.

How to Apply

Please contact the Office of International Student Services if you feel that you may qualify to apply for Severe Economic Hardship Work Authorization.

NOTE: Unauthorized off-campus employment is considered illegal employment.  Students who participate in unauthorized employment of any kind are subject to the termination of their F-1 visa status.