Employment Options for International Students
Employment can be a tricky subject when it comes to students with an F-1 visa. Questions should be directed to the International Student Coordinator who also serves as the Designated School Official. They can guide you through the process. All off-campus employment must have authorization from the International Student Coordinator. If you engage in off-campus employment without authorization, you are considered out of status and will lose your F-1 visa.
Students may engage in on-campus employment if they are carrying a full course of study and as long as the work is limited to part-time (less than 20 hours per week) during the fall, winter and spring semesters when school is in session or full-time (20-40 hours per week) during the summer or when school is officially not in session. Work is limited to employers who are located on-campus and provide direct services to students. Employment may be in any field and is not restricted to your academic major. In order to become employed you will need to apply for a social security number and go through the I-9 employee verification process as instructed by your employer.
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to F-1 students who are currently in legal status (and have been for at least one school year) and who have successfully completed their program. OPT allows you to work up to 12 months anywhere in the US in a field related to your major. Unlike CPT, you do not have to have proof of an offer of employment. Practical training is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in your chosen field of study. You are not limited to only one employer. You must fill out the I-765 form. There is a fee which must be paid in order for you to be considered for OPT. The OPT checklist will help you gather all the necessary items, but please see the DSO for complete details and authorization. Receiving your work card from USCIS can takes at least six weeks, and you should apply at least 3 months prior to completing your studies. You are not eligible to apply if your application is received by USCIS after the day you graduate.