Off-Campus Employment

Overview

 

In certain circumstances, F-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus employment benefits. Please see the list of available employment types to learn more about your options as an F-1 student.

- Practical Training Seminar -

Click here to view the latest Practical Training Seminar - viewing of seminar is required prior to applying for any CPT or OPT.

(1) Curricular Practical Training for F-1 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

Please note: Students who must extend their CPT must submit an entirely new CPT application with an updated offer letter.

(2) Optional Practical Training for F-1 students (including Regular 12-month OPT, 24-month STEM OPT Extension and the Cap-Gap Extension)

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:

1) Read: Optional Practical Training Information (Initial 12-month Application)
All OPT application instructions and frequently asked questions are found in the application document, above.

2) Complete: Click here to electronically begin and submit the OPT Application.

Also please note:  Viewing the Practical Training Seminar is required for any student before meeting with an international student advisor about CPT/OPT or before applying for CPT/OPT. A link to the seminar is found above on this page.

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 on paper.

b) STEM OPT Extension applicants

The 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 24-month STEM extension. Students should apply for the 24-month extension up to 90 days in advance of the expiration of their OPT. Applications that arrive at USCIS after their original OPT expiration date will be denied.

Download:24-month (STEM) OPT Extension Application

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

Click here for information on STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

c) Cap-Gap OPT 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.

SEVP Portal Help Info for F-1 students on regular 12-month and STEM OPT.

The portal is a tool that F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or science, technology, engineering and mathematics or (STEM) OPT can choose to use to report changes to their home address, telephone number and employer information.

As a student who has applied for or who is currently on post-completion or STEM OPT, you will be eligible to use the portal. The portal is accessible from both your mobile device and computer.

When your OPT is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account. This email will come from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov. If you do not see the email, check your spam or junk mail folder. If you still do not see it, contact your designated school official (DSO) to have the email sent again.

The SEVP Portal will allow you to:

  1. View details about your post-completion or STEM OPT.
  2. Report changes to your address, telephone and employer information.
  3. View and update data on all your employers in one place.

Any data updates you make in the portal will be sent directly to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.

SEVP has created an SEVP Portal Help section on Study in the States with:

If you have any questions about the portal or need assistance, call the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400.

(3) Economic Hardship for F-1 Students

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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