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 will be able to 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.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) refers to employment that is related to your major field of study and is an integral part of your curriculum. CPT is only available to F-1 visa students who are and have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for at least one school year. An international student may be authorized for part-time employment (up to 20 hours per week) while school is in session or full-time employment (20-40 hours per week) during school breaks. CPT is only offered before a student completes a program and must be renewed every semester. The application procedure for CPT include filling out the CPT confirmation form. You must also prove an offer of employment. Please see the International Student Coordinator for complete details and authorization.
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 (http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-765.htm), and part A of the I-538 form (http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-538.htm) There is a fee of $180 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 International Student Coordinator 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.