As an F-1 or J-1 student, you may find that you are interested in work opportunities in the US. Work may provide you with additional funds, or beneficial opportunities for you to practice your skills.
It is important to remember that the US government defines “work” as any activity that someone would normally be paid to perform. Even if you are not being paid, you still may need authorization. Always check with OISS before accepting any position, even if it is unpaid or “volunteer”. We will help you meet your goals in a legal way.
F-1 Students are eligible to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters, and up to 40 hours per week during the Winter and Summer semesters. On-campus employment can include work conducted at on-campus facilities such as the dining hall, library, or offices on-campus, as well as with associated businesses on-campus, such as the Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Before you accept any employment, you should check with the OISS to confirm if this opportunity is valid. If you require a social security number, or if your potential employer requires verification that you are eligible to work, you should complete and submit the On-Campus Employment Eligibility Form.
Curricular practical training, or CPT, is training that is both related and required by all students in a specific program, or all students in a specific course.
These experiences may include alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students can engage in CPT on a part-time basis (no more than 20 hrs/week) during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students can apply for full-time CPT (more than 20 hrs/week) during the Winter and Summer semesters. Graduate students in sustaining status can also engage in full-time CPT; authorization ends once the dissertation has been defended. To apply for CPT, the student must submit a completed “CPT form” (available at the OISS website) along with the necessary documents listed on the form. Once the CPT is approved, the school official will issue a new I-20 reflecting the work authorization.
To be considered for CPT authorization, you must meet the following conditions (in addition to the basic requirements listed above):
Remember, you are not permitted to begin employment prior to authorization. This includes unpaid work. OISS will not back-date employment authorization.
NOTE: Accepting work appointments without the proper authorization is a serious violation of student F-1 status. Failure to comply with all immigration regulations may cause a student to not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and, in some situations, may cause the student to be subject to deportation. CPT may be for 20 hours per week (part time) or for more than 20 hours per week (full time). Students who accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) at the time of degree completion. Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility. Once a student has filed an application for OPT, the student may not apply for CPT. A CPT application is employer specific and must be made for each experience; that is, if a student changes companies or places of work during the approved CPT period, the student must submit a new CPT application. (Students in the English Language Institute are not eligible for CPT or OPT.)
An F-1 student may be eligible for up to 12 months of optional practical training at each level of F-1 status. Employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study.
Eligible students may apply for "pre-completion OPT " (before completion of program) and/or "post-completion OPT " after completion of program). Although students may engage in both pre-completion and standard post-completion OPT, the maximum amount of time that can be granted for all standard OPT combined is 12 months per educational level.
Students do not need a job offer in order to apply for OPT. Students recommended for OPT will receive a new SEVIS I-20 with an OPT recommendation notation. Students need to have authorization from USCIS before they can begin employment. Students can apply for post OPT 90 days prior to graduation or 60 days after graduation. Once the student applies, the authorization can take up to 90 days to obtain.
To be eligible for OPT, students must meet the following conditions (in addition to the basic requirements listed above):
After you have all of the above, call (302)831-2115 to schedule an appointment with your immigration advisor.
OPT can be complex. Choose one of the following topics for more information.