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Employment Options

F-1 Visa Status Employment

This is a general overview for foreign nationals currently in F-1visa status. It will provide you with an introduction to how employment is defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the various categories of employment authorization which may be available to you. This does not explain the various steps required in each application.

You should note that some applications may take several months to be approved. For detailed information about application procedures and eligibility requirements, please contact the International Student Advisor

Definition of Employment
Immigration regulations defines employment as any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit.

Some notes of caution:

  • Do not assume that you are automatically eligible to work in the U.S. Unauthorized employment is the most serious violation of your status.
  • Please consult with the International Student Advisor before accepting any off-campus employment. The International Student Advisor can help you with matters pertaining to applications for employment authorization.
  • Be careful: volunteering in a position that would normally be paid is also considered employment. This could lead to finding you worked without authorization and, therefore, violated your status.

Employment Eligibility Verification
Within the first three days of beginning work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), which will be kept by the employer. You may need your passport and visa status documents proving that you are authorized to be employed in the U.S. to complete the I-9 form. The I-9 must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission or if you change employers.

On-Campus Employment Options

On campus employment is permissible as soon as you are a full-time enrolled F-1 student at CBU.  Acceptable employment includes: work required by a scholarship, assistantship or fellowship, work in the library, computer center, administrative offices, and work performed on CBU’s premises for an outside contractor or firm as long as that employer provides direct 

F-1 Off-Campus Employment Options

Curricular Practical Training:
Under most circumstances, to be eligible for this category, you must have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for one academic year and be in F-1 status at the time of application. A job offer is required to be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training. While there is no limit to the length of time you may be employed in Curricular Practical Training, any student who works for twelve months or more in full-time training automatically loses the right to any Optional Practical Training after completion of studies.

Curricular Practical Training is defined as:

  • training that is required for all students in the degree program as part of the established curriculum (e.g. required internships as published in the school catalog), OR
  • training programs taken for academic credit which are an integral part of the established curriculum, but are not required (e.g. field study courses as published in the school catalog or practicum classes).

Internship with an International Organization:
To be eligible for this category you must be in F-1 student status. If you are maintaining lawful F-1 status and are offered employment in the form of an internship by a "recognized" international organization, you may obtain permission to engage in this work during summer vacation periods prior to graduation. You must first obtain a written certification from the international organization about the proposed employment, and then apply to USCIS. Some examples of "recognized" international organizations include the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Optional Practical Training:
To be eligible for this category you must have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for one academic year and be in F-1 status at the time of application. A job offer is not required to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training. You are eligible for a total of twelve months of full-time Optional Practical Training for each higher degree level as an F-1 student, and you may also have the option to extend your OPT by 17 months if your major is one of the STEM fields and your employer is certified for E-Verify.

You may (1) apply for periods of practical training before completion of studies, (2) save the total twelve-month period to be used after completion of studies, or (3) use a combination of both. Such employment may be full time or part time, and it may take place at any location in the U.S., but it must be directly related to your major field of study. Its purpose is to round out or complement your studies. You may apply for Optional Practical Training up to 60 days after completion of studies, although this will shorten your OPT time.

Any periods of Optional Practical Training used before completion of studies will be deducted from the total twelve-month period available. For example, if you worked full-time for two months during a summer vacation, you would only have ten months of practical training available after graduation.

Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship:
To be eligible for this category you must have been in F-1 student status for one academic year. A job offer is not required to be eligible to apply for this category of work authorization. If other F-1 employment authorization opportunities listed here are not available or are otherwise insufficient, you may apply to USCIS for off-campus employment authorization based on "severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control." You must have experienced a significant change in funding available to you in order to apply. You may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session; full time during breaks and your annual vacation.

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