United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of compensated employment off-campus. Beginning work without appropriate authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Please check with Center for International Programs regarding your options for paid employment.
On campus Employment
International students on F-1 visas are not permitted to work off-campus. However, you may apply for on-campus jobs (including work-study jobs that have not been filled by U.S. citizens.) You are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours/week during the academic term and a maximum of 40 hours/week during the vacation periods.
In the case of economic necessity due to unforeseen circumstances which arise after your first year in the U.S., you may seek permission to work off-campus. Contact the CIP office (465-1248) for information on these regulations and application procedures.
Curricular Practical Training
According to immigration regulations, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be "an integral part of an established curriculum,” such as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." Thus, CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide work experience in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program.
F-1 students who have completed one academic year of fulltime study are eligible for CPT. CPT is available only while the student is in valid F-1 status and before the completion of his/her program. Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT. Please consult Heidi Gregori-Gahan or Nicole Vernon if you are interested in pursuing CPT.
Graduate students are allowed to participate in CPT as early as their first semester in the US if their academic program requires an internship, a practicum, or other employment.
Duration of Curricular Practical Training
USCIS does not limit the number of times or the length of time a student may engage in either part- or full-time curricular practical training. The duration of CPT is determined by the requirements of your academic program. The regulations do not prohibit multiple, concurrent CPT employers.
However, if you complete a total of 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training, you will not be eligible to pursue any Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Applying for Curricular Practical Training
The Center for International Programs can authorize CPT if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment meets one of the two conditions below.
- The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum. There are only a few academic programs at USI which require a period of off-campus employment for all degree candidates. This requirement must be formally documented in school publications.
- The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit. Undergraduate students should consult the appropriate advisor in the USI Career Services Office to determine if the proposed employment qualifies for internship credit. You must register and complete the internship during the semester that you are working under CPT authorization. For example, if you will be working in the summer, you must register and complete the internship course in the same summer semester.
If CPT is for your last semester, you must have at least one other remaining degree-required course for which to register, in addition to the CPT course unless the CPT course is the degree-required course.
Optional Practical Training is a period of up to one year during which a student is permitted to work in a position relevant to his/her field and can be used before or after completion of studies. Students remain in F-1 status with their university, although they can accept employment anywhere within the United States.
An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he or she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session.
An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
The application for practical training must be received by Immigration within 60 days of completion of your degree requirements. This application also requires the endorsement of Heidi Gregori-Gahan or Nicole Vernon in the Center for International Programs. Please do not send an I-765 to Immigration without consulting the Center for International Programs.
OPT Extension for STEM Fields
F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension.
What are the eligibility requirements for the 17-month extension of post-completion OPT?
- The student must have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List
- The student must currently be in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree.
- The student’s employer must be enrolled in E-Verify.
- The student must apply on time (i.e., before the current post-completion OPT expires).
Reporting Requirements during Optional Practical Training
You will remain in F-1 status with your USI I-20 form throughout your period of post completion OPT. Please click here for details on your reporting requirements during OPT “add PDF” and the reporting form “add PDF” with which you can notify the CIP Office of changes in your address, employment, etc.
Optional Practical Training and Travel
Now that I’ve applied for OPT, can I travel outside the U.S. while I wait for the EAD card to come?
The USCIS at this time states you can travel while your OPT is pending in order to return and search for employment. However, this interpretation is a change from the previous operating instructions. We recommend that you do not travel outside of the U.S. while your OPT application is pending. If you have an emergency and must travel it is uncertain as to your risk.
Can I travel while on OPT with my EAD and continue my job search upon reentry?
USCIS has stated if your OPT has been approved, you have obtained your EAD and you depart the U.S. before obtaining a job, your OPT is terminated and you may not reenter the U.S. The USCIS have changed the previous operating instructions and have narrowed the interpretation of the regulations 8 CFR.214.2(f)(13)(ii) to state that you must reenter the U.S. to “resume employment”.
We strongly recommend that you do not travel unless there is an emergency or you have a letter verifying either employment or an offer of employment. Again, this has been a change in the interpretation so it is unclear how your entry will be interpreted at the port of entry.
What documents do I need to reenter the U.S. with an approved OPT?
You will need your I-20 endorsed on the 3rd page by Heidi Gregori-Gahan or Nicole Vernon, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a valid visa, and a letter verifying an offer of employment.
Can I renew my F-1 visa if I travel outside the US while I am on OPT?
Yes, it is possible to renew your F-1 visa to return to the US to resume your OPT. There is a risk of denial which may be higher than while you are in active student status, since your stay is now working rather than going to school. The F-1 student visa requires that the applicant must intend to return to the home country at the end of the program, and if the visa issuing officer is not convinced of your intention to return home, the visa application could be denied.
You need to take a valid passport, recently endorsed I-20, EAD card, and a letter verifying an offer of employment showing your salary, location, job duties, and beginning date. You should also be prepared to discuss how the job experience will apply to a job in your home country and how you intend to apply it.
United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of compensated employment. Beginning work without appropriate authorization from your J-1 program sponsor (the organization which issued your DS-2019) is a serious violation of your J-1 status. Please check with the Center for International Programs regarding your options for paid employment.
On Campus Employment
Students holding a J-1 visa should consult the CIP office regarding regulations for on campus employment provided by their sponsor (e.g., USI, ISEP, World Learning, etc.)
Off Campus Employment
United States law requires you to obtain written authorization before starting any type of compensated employment. Beginning work without appropriate authorization from your J-1 program sponsor (the organization which issued your DS-2019) is a serious violation of your J-1 status.
Academic Training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study (that is, concurrent with your studies) as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances, you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while you are writing a thesis. Please contact Heidi Gregori-Gahan or Nicole Vernon in the CIP Office for further information.
To qualify for Academic Training, you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Form DS-2019. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. The Responsible Officers for students on J-1 visas sponsored by USI are Heidi Gregori-Gahan or Nicole Vernon.
- Your primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than Academic Training.
- You must be in good academic standing at USI.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study in the U.S.
- Throughout your Academic Training you must maintain permission to stay in the United States, in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage, as required by the US Department of State and USI regulations.
Duration of Academic Training
According to the regulations, your employment may be authorized for the “length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time is approved by [both] the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer.”
If your exchange is for one semester or less you are eligible for a maximum of four (4) months of Academic Training. If your exchange is for a full year, you are eligible for a maximum of nine (9) months of Academic Training. If you earn an undergraduate or a graduate degree from USI, you are eligible for Academic Training for a period not to exceed the period of time at USI or 18 months, whichever is shorter.
Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18- month limit. It is counted the same as fulltime employment. Academic Training approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of Academic Training.
Applying for Academic Training
You must apply for Academic Training, and the extension of your DS-2019 form must be processed, prior to completion of your academic program at USI. Employment must begin within 30 days of your program end date (item #3 on your DS-2019). Academic Training following completion of your program must either involve paid employment or you must provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during the training period. USI considers sufficient funds to be at least $600/month.
If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and re-enter the country for J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave. Otherwise you will not be able to re-enter.
You must have permission to work from Immigration in order to obtain a Social Security number. We suggest you wait until you are in the United States for at least 10 days before you apply for a Social Security number. Please contact the Center for International Programs at 812-465-1248 once you have obtained a job and before applying for a Social Security number. The CIP Office will issue a letter which you will need to submit with your application to the Social Security Office.
The Social Security Office does not require you to have a Social Security number before you start work. However, your employer is required to report wages using a Social Security number. While you wait for your Social Security number, your employer can use a letter from the Social Security Office stating that you applied for a number. Your employer may use your immigration documents as proof of your authorization to work in the United States.