Employment for F-1 Students
F-1 students in good status can be employed in the U.S. during and after completion of studies only with authorization. F-2 dependents may NOT accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.
On Campus Employment:
Students can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. They may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break. F 1 students should report their work to the International Student Advisor and receive a certification letter to present to the Social Security Administration in order to be able to receive a social security number. Not complying with these guidelines for on-campus employment may be a violation of status that could result in the student having to leave the United States.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
For Undergraduate F-1 students: May be authorized after being registered for full time for one full academic year.
For Graduate F-1 Students: May be is authorized before being enrolled for one academic year. This is only if the graduate program requires its students to engage in training prior to the one year condition.
This type of employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum: (off-campus job, or an internship as required by the student’s program.) Employment can be approved for 20 hours per week when school is in session, and more than 20 hours during school breaks. If students work full time during CPT, they lose eligibility for Optional Practical Training after completion of study. A written offer of employment is necessary.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
This type of employment is optional for students who wish to work full time after graduation for 12 months, provided that it is used within 14 months of completion of study. However, OPT could be authorized before completion of studies (part time only) during school session, and (full time) during school breaks. Student must be enrolled full time for one academic year to be eligible for part time pre-completion OPT. Any full time OPT authorized before completion of studies will be DEDUCTED from after completion OPT. OPT must be closely related to the student’s field of study. A job offer is not necessary.
Deadline for Applying for OPT:
F-1 students may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before their program end date and up to 60 days after their program end date. Application must be properly filed within 30 days of the date the student’s DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS.
17 Months Extension of OPT for F-1 Students with a STEM Degree:
To find out if your degree is on the STEM List please go to this website: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm.
The USCIS Web site has information on E-Verify and the enrollment procedures at www.uscis.gov/everify.
F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, or master’s, degree in a STEM field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer.
Deadline to Apply for OPT Extension:
The student must ensure that the Form I-765, the supporting evidence and the fee payment reach the proper USCIS Service Center before his or her current OPT expires. USCIS recommends that students file within 90 and 120 days of the expiration date of the current OPT.
Student responsibilities while on STEM extension OPT:
- A student pursing a period of STEM extension OPT must:
- Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week
- Work in a position related to the STEM degree
- Report to the DSO within 10 days of:
- Legal name change
- Change in residential or mailing address
- Change in employer, providing the employer name and address
- Loss of employment
- Send the DSO a validation report every six months starting from the date the STEM extension starts and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends or the STEM extension ends, whichever is first. The validation report is due to the DSO within 10 days of each reporting date and must include the student’s:
- Full legal name SEVIS identification number (if requested by the school)
- Current mailing and residential address
- Name and address of the current employer
- Date the student began working for the current employer
Limits on Periods of Unemployment during OPT and 17-month STEM OPT:
Students on post-completion OPT may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment. Students who receive a 17-month STEM OPT extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over their entire post-completion OPT period.