International Students : Employment

While in the United States you may find yourself wanting to seek employment to build your resume, gain work experience relevant to your field of study, or earn some extra money.  Before you begin looking for a job, know that there are specific regulations in relation to your visa that dictate the type of employment you can have, how many hours you can work, and where you work.  The regulations vary depending on your status of J-1 or F-1.   Each situation varies and you should contact the Office of International Programs prior to searching for employment to see what is required of you. 

F-1 Student Employment Options
&Naturalization Service (INS) is necessary in order to participate in on-campus employment. In addition, there is no minimum requirement for time accumulated in F-1 status. 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Prior to completion of studies, an F-1 student may engage in employment (on-campus or off-campus) that is directly related to his/her major field of study via Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT can be divided into two categories:  (1) an internship/practicum which is a required part of the program curriculum.  (2) a training program which is not required, but which is integral to one's program of study and for which academic credit is received.  Employment may be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). It is important to note, however, that F-1 students who engage in full-time CPT for 12 months or more will forfeit their period of Optional Practical Training following completion of studies. For specific information regarding application procedures and materials, please contact the Office of International Programs. To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, students must have accumulated at least nine (9) consecutive months in legal F-1 status.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in employment (on-campus or off-campus) that is directly related to his/her major field of study via Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT can be divided into four categories:

(1) part-time or full-time during the student's annual vacation period and at other times when school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled and eligible and intends to register for the next term.

(2) While school is in session, provided the employment does not exceed 20 hours per week.

(3) Full-time after completion of all course requirements for degree (excluding thesis or the equivalent).

(4) Full-time after completion of the entire course of study. 

The maximum amount of time an F-1 student may engage in OPT is 12 months. It is important to note, however, that F-1 students who have engaged in full-time CPT (see "Curricular Practical Training" above) for 12 months or more are ineligible for OPT.  If you are going to do OPT, please use the checklist to make sure you have done everything.

Work Authorization Due to Economic Hardship: If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, F-1 students may apply for off-campus work authorization based upon unforeseen economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond their control (e.g., loss of a scholarship or financial aid due to no fault of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, unexpected medical expenses, etc.). Thorough documentation concerning the conditions which necessitate such employment is required.

Work Authorization Under the Sponsorship of an International Organization: An infrequently used opportunity available to F-1 students is employment under the sponsorship of an international organization. F-1 students may be eligible for this type of work authorization if they have been offered employment by an international organization as defined by the International Organization Immunities Act [19 FR148.87].

J-1 Student Options
J-1 students are generally permitted to work on the premises of the school that issued their currently valid DS-2019, while attending that school and maintaining their J-1 status. This work is part-time, limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session or full-time during holiday and vacation periods. Work on-campus is a benefit of J-1 visa status.

Academic Training: J-1 students are eligible for academic training employment authorization for up to 18 months or the length of the program, whichever is shorter. Doctoral students are eligible for additional 18 months of post-doctoral academic training time. Academic training provides an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in an academic program to a practical work experience. This employment opportunity must be directly related to your major field of study. It may, in certain circumstances, be full or part time and may take place anywhere in the US. You may apply for academic training during your vacation periods, during the academic year, or for when you complete your studies.

Economic Hardship: J-1 students who experience a serious economic hardship due to an unforeseen change in their financial situation may qualify for off-campus employment authorization. Among the changes that can qualify a student for economic hardship employment authorization include unexpected loss of a scholarship, significant currency devaluation, or large business loss by a financial sponsor.