Employment Options for F-1 Students
F-1 Students are students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, elementary schools, or other academic institutions, and in language training programs. There are several avenues for F-1 students to engage in authorized employment in the United States.
- On-Campus Work. On-campus work can begin as soon as an F-1 student is admitted. The employment must either be on the school’s premises or an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school. The employment must be an integral part of the student’s educational program, and it must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session. F-1 student must demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship resulting from the emergent circumstances. Authorization is through DSO annotation on Form I-20. Full-time on-campus employment is allowed when the school is not in session or during annual vacation.
- Off-Campus Employment. F-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus on a part-time basis after having been in F-1 status for one full academic year if the student can show severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. When the school is in session, the employment is limited to no more than 20 hours a week. A student who is granted off-campus employment authorization may work full-time during holidays or school vacation. DSO must make a recommendation and student must file Form I-765 with USCIS for employment authorization.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is available to full-time students for at least one academic year. English language training students are not eligible. A job offer is required and the employment/internship must be an integral part of the established curriculum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT may be granted on a part-time basis of no more than 20 hours per week. CPT may also be granted on a full-time basis of more than 20 hours per week, but students who have received one year or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for post-completion academic training. Employment authorization is granted by DSO through endorsement on Form I-20.
- Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students who have completed a full academic year may apply for pre-completion OPT. Full-time pre-completion OPT employment is allowed during student’s annual vacation or when school is not in session. While school is in session, employment must not exceed 20 hours per week. Students in English language training programs are not eligible. The employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. DSO makes a recommendation for OPT, and the student must file Form I-765 with USCIS for employment authorization. Student may not begin employment until the date indicated on the employment authorization document.
- Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). An F-1 student may be authorized 12 months of practical training upon completion of the course of study. For student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, the student may apply after completion of all course requirements for the degree. Students in English language training programs are not eligible. The employment must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. Students with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree may be eligible for a one-time 17-month extension of post-completion OPT. DSO makes a recommendation for OPT, and the student must file Form I-765 with USCIS for employment authorization. Student may not begin employment until the date indicated on the employment authorization document.
- Internship with International Organizations. Student who has been offered employment by a recognized international organization must apply for employment authorization on Form I-765. A written certification from the international organization that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship is required.
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