Can I work?
F-1 Employment Information
Employment Under the F-1 Category
In general, international students are not allowed to work in the United States. However, there are certain exceptions in which students are allowed to engage in employment.
On Campus Employment
International students are allowed to work on campus as long as the employment is performed on the educational institution’s premises, on-location firms that provide services for students on campus and any off-campus locations which are educationally affiliated to the educational institution. These types of employment cannot exceed twenty (20) hours per week while classes are in session. Notice that on-campus employment opportunities are limited.
Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
When you requested an application for your F-1 Visa at the United States Consulate or Embassy in your country, you were asked to show the ability to pay for your educational program and living expenses. However, there are times when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may recognize unforeseen or unexpected circumstances which may affect you economically.
If you are experiencing such circumstances, you may be required to work off campus in order to pay your tuition and living expenses. In order to engage in this type of employment condition, you must first obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In order to obtain such permission you will need to demonstrate that your financial circumstances are beyond your control, and that employment on campus is not available and/or unsuitable.
You must also:
- Have completed at least one full academic year as an F-1 student in the United States.
- Be in good academic standing and be in lawful status
- File the following documentation:
- Certification by the Designated School Official (DSO) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS);
- Form I-765 (application for Employment Authorization);
- Recommendation from the Designated School Official (DSO) in the student development office;
- Endorsement of the SEVIS I-20 Form (new copy);
- Copy (front/back) of I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record);
- Two (2) passport photos; and,
- Any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Document), if applicable.
Please contact the student development office in order to file all the documentation. Note that adjudication of such employment authorization may take up to 90 days.
Curricular Practical Training Authorization
International students are allowed to engage in employment through Cooperative Education and Internships Enterprise Resource Center (ERC). Students must have completed at least one full academic year as an F-1 student in the United States to work off-campus. (Graduate programs requiring internships may be exempt).
In order to obtain employment authorization, students will provide the following information to the DSO before engaging employment:
- Letter from the employer (may be downloaded from website). (pdf)
- CPT form (may be downloaded from website
- If with ERC must have copy of internship offer
- Certification by the Designated School Official (DSO) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
You must be approved and have your updated I-20 form with CPT authorization before beginning employment. Please contact the DSO in the student development office with any questions.
Optional Practical Training
As part of your program, Practical Training Employment Authorization may be given with the purpose of acquiring experience in your field of study. This type of employment is given during or after completion of studies, and for a period of time not to exceed one year (12 months). The employment is granted to eligible students for not more than 20 hours per week while school is in session or on a full-time basis if students request this authorization after completion of studies. In order to engage in Optional Practical Training before or after completion of an academic program, students must have completed at least one full academic year as an F-1 student in the United States, be in good standing, and in status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Note carefully that part-time Optional Practical Training employment will be deducted from the twelve (12) months at a half-time rate. For example, if you have been employed for six (6) months during the academic year, then three (3) months will be deducted from the total.
In order to seek Optional Practical Training, after completion of studies, you must have completed all the requirements for your academic program and be in lawful status with DHS. In addition, you must file all documents in a timely manner: 60 to 90 days before the last day of classes is strongly recommended. In addition, please note that the Graduation Ceremony IS NOT part of the academic program. Therefore, you complete your academic program on your last day of classes.
In order to engage in this type of employment, you must file the following documentation with the Designated School Official (DSO) at the student development office:
- Certification by the Designated School Official (DSO) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
- Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and its fee
- I-20 (new copy)
- Copies of previous school’s I-20
- 2 Passport Photos
- Copies of I-20, Visa, I-94 and Passport
- Any Previous EAD cards, if applicable
- Since you must have the authorization before you begin to work, be sure to apply well in advance, as the processing time at USCIS can take several weeks. No job offer is required to receive OPT authorization, but the student is expected to work or be actively seeking employment after the OPT EAD is issued.
- Effective on April 8, 2008 under the provisions of 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (ii) (C) a 17-month extension to the OPT was approved for students in the (STEM) degrees – science, technology, engineering, or math.
- Click here for the DHS website for complete information on the 17-month extension list.
Important: If you accept employment under other circumstances not listed above, this is considered breaking the law and you will be out of status. Also, every student, during Optional Practical Training, is required to report any change of name, address, or disruption of employment.