Employment opportunities for international students are regulated by the United States Immigration Law and are therefore very limited. Students must be maintaining their non-immigrant status and in good academic standing for any type of employment. With the exception of on-campus employment, all employment opportunities for F-1 students require approval from the CIE or USCIS. Students in J-1 status must have written approval from the Responsible Officer of their exchange visitor program before accepting employment. While an international student, you may not be self-employed. The Center for International Education will hold various workshops throughout the year to help guide you through the employment authorization process.

F-1 Student Employment

On Campus Employment

F-1 students who are maintaining status may work part-time on-campus while classes are in session. “Part-time; means not more than 20 hours per week.” F-1 students do not need special authorization to work on-campus. Assistantships are considered ‘on-campus employment’ and therefore are also limited to 20 hours per week.

During vacation periods and academic breaks, you may work full-time (over 20 hours) on campus if you are returning to classes the following term. You may not work on-campus after completing your course of study.

Off Campus Employment

Working off-campus requires special authorization and is only available in certain situations. Working off-campus without authorization is a direct violation of U.S. Immigration Regulations and could result in deportation.

Practical Training is temporary employment that allows international students to gain some practical experience in their field of study, before or after completion of studies. Practical training is divided into two categories: (1) curricular practical training before completion of studies and (2) optional practical training both before and after completion of studies.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is work experience defined as part of your integral curriculum. Therefore, you must enroll in a course and receive unit credit towards your degree. You must have the CIE’s authorization before you begin employment. GPT can be part time or full time (during summer and vacation periods). However, if it exceeds 12 months full-time, you will lose the opportunity to obtain OPT. Additional Information regarding CPT is available at the CIE.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

To be eligible, you must have been in lawful student status for one academic year and be in good academic standing. USCIS approval and a recommendation from the CIE are required. If you meet the requirements, you are eligible for up to a total of 12 months of practical training for each subsequent high level of education you pursue.

You may use OPT:

  • During your studies; OR
  • After completion of your studies; OR
  • A combination of both

Pre-Completion OPT is available part time (20 hours/week) if you have not yet completed your course of study; however, most students prefer to wait and use their 12 months of OPT after they graduate (Post-Completion OPT). Additional Information regarding OPT is available at the CIE.

IMMIGRATION STATUS TYPE OF EMPLOYMENT NEEDS AUTHORIZATION? HOURS OF WORK PERMITTED
F-1 STUDENT ON – CAMPUS NEEDS TO GO TO CIE TO APPLY FOR SSN UP TO 20 HOURS PER WEEK WHILE SCHOOL IS IN SESSION
OFF – CAMPUS (OPT,CPT) NEEDS CIE AND USCIS AUTHORIZATION MORE THAN 20 HOURS PER WEEK WHILE ON BREAK