Employment & Volunteer Options

The primary intent of an F-1 student is to study. It is important that your academics take precedence over any employment opportunities. There are several employment options available and volunteering is permissible if it adheres to the guidelines noted below. 


Volunteers are individuals who donate their services, usually on a part-time basis, for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives. Volunteers are not employees of the religious, charitable or similar non-profit organization and there should not be any expectation of pay for the service provided.

Before doing any volunteer work, review the criteria test:

  • No expectation of compensation in any form.
  • Cannot displace someone who would be paid for providing the same service.
  • Cannot be work for which the individual was previously paid or would expect to be paid in the future.
  • The service provided must be less than a full-time occupation.
  • The service provided is for a non-profit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objective.
  • Cannot be at a for-profit organization.

On Campus Employment

As an F-1 student, you are eligible to work on campus without requiring DSO approval; however, you will need to contact your DSO for assistance in obtaining a social security number. Email one of the international advisors to set up an appointment to review the process for obtaining a social security number.

You must have a job offer prior to requesting an appointment. Ask the on campus employer to provide you with an offer letter. The offer letter should be on UNCSA letterhead and signed by the hiring manager. The on campus employer may contact one of the international advisors for an offer letter template if they do not have one on file. 


  • You must be enrolled full time each semester.
  • You may work no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • You may work full-time on-campus during official university holidays and breaks.
  • You may not engage in on-campus employment after the program end date listed on your I-20.
  • The employment cannot displace a U.S. worker.

On Campus Job Options

Historically, international students have found on campus jobs in the following departments: Transportation (requires a NC Driver’s License), Fitness Center, Library, Residence Life as Residence Assistant (RA), Residence Life Maintenance, ArtistCorps and graduate assistant (GA) with their specific art school (as available). Please note you are not eligible to work in any federally funded position or work study job.

U.S. Taxes

When you get an on-campus job, you may be required to pay tax on your earnings. You may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the U.S. Please work with your employer and the UNCSA Payroll Office to ensure you complete the necessary paperwork. Refer to the appropriate websites for more information about U.S. Taxes, Social Security, and UNCSA tax compliance.

Your international advisor is not able to provide assistance with tax questions. You may contact the UNCSA Payroll Office for additional tax documents required for on campus employment or when receiving grant funds from UNCSA or UNCSA Foundation. Please note if you require tax advice, you must contact a tax professional.


Off Campus Employment

F-1 Students are not allowed to work off campus, this includes any gigs or internships, without DSO approval. There are only two ways to work off campus and those are Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Both of these options must be an integral part of your arts curriculum.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: alternate work/study, cooperative education, gigs, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

CPT is the employment option available while the degree is in progress. CPT requirements are outlined below:

  • Integral part of the curriculum
  • Must have completed one academic year of coursework
  • Must be in good academic standing and making progress toward degree completion
  • Must have a job/internship offer letter (can be paid or unpaid)
  • Must not interfere with coursework
  • Must not work more than 20 hours per week during school sessions
  • Must obtain DSO approval prior to beginning job/internship/gig
  • Must complete all required paperwork
  • Must register/or have arts advisor to register you for the REQUIRED internship course each semester the internship takes place

To apply for CPT, submit a request to your DSO as soon as you learn about an opportunity you wish to pursue. They will send you the appropriate CPT paperwork that must be completed before your request can be approved. The deadline to request CPT is usually the same as the add/drop registration date for each semester.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is a benefit to obtain off-campus work authorization during or after completion of your degree. OPT is defined in the regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. 

To be eligible to apply for OPT, the student:

  • For post-completion OPT: Must have conferred or be on track to receive a degree or professional artist certificate from UNCSA.
  • Must have completed a full academic year of study.
  • Must not have fallen out of F-1 status during your program dates on your I-20.
  • Must not have completed 12 months of full-time CPT.
  • Must not have a prior record of OPT at the requested degree/certificate level.
  • At the time of applying, the applicant does not have to have an offer of employment
  • Must not exceed 90 days of unemployment
  • Must depart the U.S. within 60 days of last day of employment or transfer to another U.S. institution by completing the Transfer Out Form.

Reporting Responsibilities to DSOs

  • Activate your SEVP account portal email link (from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov, with the subject line, "Optional Practical Training Approval - the next step. Create an SEVP Portal account)
  • Download the SEVIS Student User Guide
  • Contact one of the international advisors if you get locked out of your account
  • Update physical home address within 10 days of moving (if applicable)
  • Update mailing address (if applicable)
  • Update telephone number(s) (If applicable)
  • Add new employer(s) within 10 days (you will not be able to back date)
  • Delete employers if employment never occurred
  • Enter each employer’s information, including:
    • Employer name
    • Employer address
    • Employer EIN
    • Dates of employment
    • Supervisor's name, email and telephone number
    • Other editable employment fields
  • Scan a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card to one of the international advisors (review card for errors)
  • If you need to request a new or updated I-20, a travel authorization signature, or need help entering your employer information, contact your DSO.

All F-1 students interested in applying for OPT must schedule a OPT review meeting with a DSO, submit OPT paperwork back to the DSO, and complete form I-765 after receiving their new I-20 with the OPT request.