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Student Employment

Employment opportunities for foreign students are limited in the United States. Obtaining authorization to work in this country is often a difficult process. In general, there are two types of employment: on-campus employment and off-campus employment. ISO information sheets, complete instructions, and application forms for all types of employment can be downloaded at Also, please download the F-1 Practical Training file (PDF).

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is permitted for full-time students without special authorization from the USCIS so long as it is performed:

  • On the University’s premises and where the employer is either the University or a commercial firm which provides services to students on campus (such as the bookstore or cafeteria), or
  • At an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the University

In either case, you must be pursuing a full course of study and may not work more than 20 hours/week during the academic year (employment that is required for an assistantship or fellowship counts toward the 20 hours/week maximum). During vacation or recess periods, students in F-1 status may work more than 20 hours/week as long as they are registered for the coming year. Also, any on-campus employment cannot displace a U.S. resident.

Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus employment is any type of work or services performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit. A work permit is required before any off-campus employment is allowed. See an advisor at ISO for advice and assistance.

ISO has handouts and application forms for the following:

  • F-1 Optional Practical Training: an employment opportunity available to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a fulltime basis for one full academic year. Student must apply prior to the completion of study. Training must be directly related to the student’s field of study. OPT may occur during or after the program of study. Training may be part-time during studies or full-time during vacations and holidays. OPT after course completion must be full-time. No job offer is required. The training is limited to a maximum of 12 months within the 14-month period following the completion of study. OPT terminates when the student enters another educational program or fails to comply with F-1 regulations.
  • Curricular Practical Training: an employment available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year. CPT employment must be “an integral part of an established curriculum.” The training must be a requirement of the program of study and/or receive course credit. CPT is limited to a maximum of 12 months, unless an extended period is required for the program of study. If full-time for 12 months or more, the student becomes ineligible for optional practical training. CPT requires a written job offer indicating job title, dates of employment, number of hours, and location. Training terminates when the student completes the program or fails to comply with F-1 regulations.
  • Off-campus Employment Due to Severe Economic Need
  • Employment with an International Organization: It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits granted to F-1 students or you may lose your valid student status.