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international student employment

Student Work

By law, employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted. In general there are two types of employment: on or off-campus employment.

Students with F-1 visas are permitted to work on-campus part-time (up to 20 hours/week) while school is in session without United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval and as long as it does not interfere with your ability to continue as a full-time student. During your vacation periods you may work full-time (more than 20 hours/week) on-campus.

Many on-campus jobs are designated for “work study students”. Work study is a type of financial aid provided for US Citizens by the Federal Government. Sodexho is the biggest employer of international students. International students have also found employment in admissions, science labs, sustainability, the SLC and as RA's.

Under USCIS regulations, degree-seeking students who meet the requirements are eligible to work off-campus part or full-time. There are three type of off-campus work authorization: Curricular Practical Training (CPT); Optional Practical Training (OPT); and Severe Economic Hardship (SEH).

If you are considering ANY off-campus work experience (paid or unpaid), you MUST meet with the International Student Advisor to verify your eligibility, file the necessary paperwork, and obtain USCIS approval before you begin. Never work off-campus without written permission, even in unpaid “volunteer” positions.

Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration and employment regulations which apply to F-1 students. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in the cancellation of your F-1 visa and/or being barred from re-entering the U.S. for period of up to 10 years.

Curricular Practical Training

What It Is

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment which is authorized by the International Student Advisor. If practical training is required for program completion it will always qualify for CPT. If training is not required, it may still count for CPT if it is done for academic credit and is an integral part of the curriculum. CPT includes internships, cooperative education, or any other type of required practicum, paid or unpaid.

Curricular Practical Training Part time vs. Full time

Curricular Practical Training may be part time (up to 20 hours per week) while the student is enrolled in classes. Students who are authorized for part time CPT must be very careful not to exceed the 20 hour/week limit. This is NOT an average; it is absolute and includes all jobs added together, including RA positions (10 hours/week). There is however, no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training, but you must be simultaneously enrolled at CSC in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Curricular Practical Training may be full time (more than 20 hours per week) when school is not in session.

Student eligibility for CPT:

• Student must be in lawful F-1 status.

• Student must have been enrolled (full-time) for a full academic year.

• Student must have a written letter of recommendation from a professor in the major.

• Student must obtain approval by the International Student Advisor.

• Student must have an offer of employment that meets the qualifications for CPT.

Work with the Harrington Career Center to complete these steps.

Employment eligibility for CPT:

•Work must be related to your major field of study as indicated on your current I-20.

•It must be appropriate to your degree level.

The International Student Advisor/Designated School Official authorizes your CPT after reviewing the letters from your employer and your academic advisor/internship faculty advisor.

Once approved, the international student advisor will record your authorization in SEVIS and issue you a new 1-20 with the employment information, which you must have before you begin work. USCIS approval is not required for CPT. You must maintain a full course of study in F-1 status during the period of employment. If a student wishes to change jobs during the authorized period of employment, the student must go through the entire process again and re-apply for the CPT.

Other Important Information

• CPT can be done on a full-time basis in the summer or during semester breaks, but part-time only during the academic year.

• CPT authorization is only given one semester at a time. Each semester the student must be re-authorized in order to verify class registration.

Optional Practical Training

OPT allows a student 12 months of employment, as long as the work is directly related to the student's major or field of study. There are two different kinds of OPT with two different sets of rules.

Pre-completion OPT allows a student to be employed for up to 20 hours a week while school is in session, as long as one full year of studies has been completed. (More than 20 hours a week can be requested during school breaks and vacations.)

Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12 month limit at 50 percent. For post-completion OPT, only full-time employment can be requested. A graduate may work full-time for 12 months after completing a degree, but must find employment related to his or her major and be approved by USCIS before beginning work.

However, most students apply for Post-completion OPT, 12 months of employment upon graduation. The following information is on post-completion OPT.

A job offer is not required before the student can apply for OPT, and a student may change jobs during the authorized period of employment provided the new employment continues to be directly related to the student's field of study and commensurate with his or her educational level.

Students can apply for OPT no sooner than 90 days before graduation or no later than 60 days after graduation. Students are still encouraged to apply for OPT before graduation so that they can start work as soon as they receive an Employment Authorization Card (EAD). There is an application fee of $380. Please go through the International Student Services office to apply. DO NOT APPLY ONLINE.

Through OPT, students are permitted to work in a field directly related to their studies for 12 months. However, the employment must be completed within 14 months after graduation (which includes the grace period of 2 months given to F-1 students after the completion of studies).

If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) based on the international student advisor's recommendation. The SEVIS record will be updated as well. A student should not leave the country while waiting for the EAD card to arrive. Under no circumstances may a student begin working before the start date on the EAD card.

Change of Employer After Post-Completion OPT Has Been Authorized

You may change employers after you have begun authorized employment provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone having your level of education. You must notify the international student advisor if your address changes.

OPT Eligibility • Have a valid passport of at least six months after graduation

• F-1 student status

• Enrolled as a full-time student for the past nine months

• Date on line 5 of I-20 indicates completion of studies in May (or December) of the application year

• Offered or looking for a job directly related to field of studies (Keep in mind that you do not have to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT)

• Have a Social Security Number (Can still apply for one after obtaining OPT)

Travel Outside the United States

You are strongly advised not to travel outside the U.S. during the time the application for OPT is pending with USCIS. If you do travel before your EAD is approved and/or employment has been found, you are advised to carry a copy of your OPT application and documents proving your employment search when you re-enter. However, there are no guarantees that you will be permitted to re-enter the U.S.

Once you have been issued the EAD, re-entry provisions require:

• That the SEVIS I-20 be endorsed and updated on the SEVIS screen by the ISA. • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card • A valid F-1 Visa • A letter from your employer

Students who do not meet these requirements may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Please consult with the ISA if planning to temporarily depart the U.S. during the authorized practical training period.

Economic Hardship Employment

If through some unforeseen circumstance your financial situation changes drastically after you have arrived in the U.S., you may apply to the USCIS for permission to work due to economic hardship. This is only available to students who have been in the U.S. studying for nine months, and it is often very difficult to receive permission.

Valid reasons for application would include loss of on campus employment or financial aid without fault on your part, substantial fluctuations in currency value or exchange rate, medical bills, or loss of financial support from your family or sponsor.