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OFF Campus Employment

Optional Practical Training for F-1 students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) offers international students the opportunity to obtain work experience in their field of study. OPT is available during the following times: during the student's annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session; while school is in session, provided OPT does not exceed 20 hours per week; after completion of all course requirements for a degree (excluding thesis or the equivalent); or after completion of study in which OPT must begin at least 60 days after completion or graduation. Graduate students are eligible to work full time while they are working on their thesis and/or after they have completed their studies. **Full-time employment is defined in terms of working 21 hours or more per week.

a) To apply for Regular OPT, please complete the following OPT application:

Download: Optional Practical Training Application (Initial 12-month Application)

All OPT application instructions and frequently asked questions are found in the application document, above.

Have you viewed the Practical Training Seminar yet? Students must view the informational seminar before applying for OPT. Click here to view - scroll to "Practical Training Seminar."

Be sure your application is complete when you turn it into the ISSAS office for review. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

b) STEM extension applicants

The 17 month OPT extension is available only to F-1 students currently authorized for and actively participating in an initial period of 12-month OPT who meet the criteria as listed in the OPT extension packet. Please download the application for more information or to apply for the 17-month STEM extension. Students should apply for the 17-month extension 90 to 120 days in advance of the expiration of their OPT. Applications that arrive at USCIS after their original OPT expiration date will be denied.

Download: 17-month (STEM) OPT Extension Application

**Please note that the USCIS application fee for OPT is now $380.00.

All OPT application instructions and frequently asked questions are found in the application document, above.

c) Cap-Gap extensions

Are you currently on OPT and have applied for an H-1B? Click here to find information on the cap-gap extension process and how to apply.

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Curricular Practical Training for F1 Students

Practical Training is a type of employment authorization granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for F-1 students that would like to obtain practical work experience in their field of study.

Download:  Curricular Practical Training Application

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Economic Hardship

In some instances, students in the F-1 immigration status are able to apply for off-campus work based on severe economic hardship. To be eligible, students must be able to demonstrate economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. For example, death of a student's sponsor, a natural disaster in the student's home country, the devaluation of the country's currency or a very serious medical condition which have led to unforeseen financial expenditures. Students must also provide evidence that they are in good academic standing, are maintaining their immigration status by being registered as full-time students and have been in F-1 immigration status for at least one academic year. Proof must also be shown that on-campus employment is either not available or inadequate to meet the student's needs.

Severe economic hardship applications are determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the application is approved, USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) to the student. Students are limited to working 20 hours per week during the academic year on economic hardship. This means that the total number of any on-campus hours plus off-campus work may not exceed a total of 20 hours. However, during summers and school vacations, students are able to work full-time.

F-1 students interested in this employment option will need to make an appointment with an International Student Advisor at the Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services (ISSAS) to determine eligibility.

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Academic Training for J-1 Students

International students in the J-1 immigration status are eligible for study-related employment under Academic Training. J-1 students normally are able to be authorized for 18 months for this type of employment. Doctoral degree students, however, are able to receive 36 months if they have a postdoctoral position. Before beginning employment, a J-1 student must obtain work authorization in advance from the designated "responsible officer." A responsible officer is a person on-campus designated to handle the J-1 exchange visitor program.

To obtain authorization, a J-1 student must submit to the responsible officer a job offer related to the student's field of study and a completed Application for Academic Training form. This form is available in the Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services (ISSAS), Memorial Union 116, from your international student advisor.

A J-1 student is eligible for academic training during vacation periods, upon completion of all coursework except for the thesis, when the student is done with the degree program, or at other times during the student's degree program under certain circumstances and only when specific criteria have been met.

Please note that some J-1 students are not eligible for academic training due to the terms of their sponsorship. Any student unsure of the requirements established by their sponsoring agency should make an appointment with a responsible officer in the Office of International Programs.

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On this Page

Optional Practical Training (OPT) - for F-1 students

  • Regular 12-month OPT
  • 17-month OPT STEM Extension
  • Cap-Gap Extension

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - for F-1 students

Economic Hardship - for F-1 students

Academic Training - for J-1 students

Back to the main Employment page

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Please read: Important note about filing the I-765 form for OPT

IMPORTANT: We do not recommend students e-file the I-765 form for any OPT. Applying online may lead to delays with your application including an additional required biometrics appointment and Requests for Evidence from USCIS. Requests for Evidence most likely will delay the processing of your application by USCIS. Please fill out the paper I-765 and apply using the application processes listed on this page. Biometrics appointments are currently not necessary if you apply through the ISSAS office.


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Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7895 - Fax: +1 (701) 231-1014
Campus address: Memorial Union 116
Physical/delivery address: 1401 Administration Ave / Memorial Union 116, Fargo, ND  58102
Page manager: International Student and Study Abroad Services

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:19:10 AM