All students must maintain a full course of study and have valid documentation in order to work on-campus. Students may work up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Full-time employment (21-40 hours per week) is allowed during vacation periods and summer for enrolled and continuing students. No special permission is necessary; however, students must inform the Office of International Services for which department they have attained employment.
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that is related to an F-1 student’s academic program. The work done does not count towards course credit; therefore it is the student’s option to apply for OPT. OPT may be used during a degree program as well as after completion of course requirements. The application process takes approximately three months for both initial applications and renewals.
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training:
Ш The student must have been lawfully enrolled in full-time status for one academic year preceding the OPT application.
Ш The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application. It is important to note that auditing courses, enrolling in correspondence courses and in absentia registration do no fulfill full-time student status requirements. Students who finish all coursework required for graduation and plan to enroll in absentia for the following semester must apply for OPT before completion of coursework.
Ш If applying for OPT based on graduation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your OPT application BEFORE the official completion/graduation date. Please apply early!
Bring the following to the International Office:
Ш Completed Form I-765 (.pdf)
Ш Passport, Visa, I-94 card, copies of all prior I20s issued and and copies of any previous EAD cards
Ш Check or money order for $380 made payable to: Department of Homeland Security (do not write or make corrections in the upper portion of the check)
Ш 2 recent, passport-style photos on white background. The photos must be 2 x 2 inches; the images must be 1 inch from the hair to the chin and 1 1/4 inch from eye height to the bottom of the photo.
Ш Your name and I-94 number must be printed in pencil on the back of the photos. For an example photo, see http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotoreq/pptphotoreq_5333.html
Ш Dates of OPT Authorization: The OPT card is approved for a specific beginning and ending date. You are required to submit a preferred beginning and end date for your OPT card. These dates must be given to the immigration advisor at the time of application. Please have these dates ready to give to the advisor. If you are unsure, you may discuss this with the advisor at the time of application.
Month / Day / Year
Beginning Date: ______/_______/__________
End Date: ______/_______/__________
What is the purpose of OPT?
The purpose is to allow students the opportunity to engage in off-campus employment, which is related to their major field of study, but is neither required nor earning course credit for their degree program.
Do I have to have a job offer to apply for OPT?
It is not necessary to have an offer of employment to apply for OPT. However, while on OPT, you have to be working or be actively looking for a job. In the future, if you want to apply for other benefits, USCIS may require verification of employment while on OPT.
When am I eligible to use OPT?
Students may be authorized for Optional Practical Training with the noted limitations:
Ш During vacation periods (no restriction on hours per week)
Ш During the long semesters (limited to 20 hours per week, but must maintain full time enrollment)
Ш After completion of all course requirements except for thesis or report (for Master's students). Work can be full-time or part-time.
Ш After completion of a course of study (i.e., after graduation) Work must be full-time.
How can my OPT be used?
OPT can be divided into shorter segments. OPT can be used during your program or saved for after completion of your degree program. Part-time OPT used during your program will be counted at the rate of 50% (two months part-time OPT authorization equals one month full-time OPT). NOTE: Part-time employment is 20 hours per week and less, full-time is 21 hours per week and more.
When can I start working?
OPT is recommended by an International Student Advisor but it is authorized by USCIS. It may take USCIS at least 90 days to process your OPT application. Since you may begin working only after receiving the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card we recommend that you apply early to avoid delay in starting your employment.
What will be the dates of my OPT?
You request the dates of your OPT authorization at the time of application. Discuss with the International Student Advisor your preferred dates at the time of application. For post-completion OPT, USCIS requires that the OPT be completed within fourteen months of a student's graduation date. You should take this into account when determining the dates for your OPT. When you have received OPT authorization, you use the time requested regardless of whether or not you have actually worked. (Ex.: Your work dates are 07/20/10 to 07/19/11 but you didn't start working until 12/05. Your work authorization still expires on 07/19/11).
How much OPT am I allowed to have?
OPT authorization is allowed for 12 months for every higher degree obtained by a student. It is possible for a student who graduates with a Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degree to have three separate periods of OPT during his/her stay in the U.S. However, it is not possible to accumulate several years of OPT and apply for a more than 12 months of OPT at a time. It is also possible for a student to obtain approval for a 17-month extension if the student's degree is listed in the STEM listing from USCIS.
What is my visa status during OPT?
While your OPT application is pending and after you receive OPT approval, your non-immigrant status remains as F-1.
Can I travel while my OPT is pending?
If you have completed your studies and your OPT application has not been approved (if you have not received your EAD), it is not advisable to travel outside of the United States. USCIS may request additional information regarding your application, which may be difficult to provide from abroad. If you have an emergency and need to travel before your OPT is approved, please consult an International Student Advisor before leaving the U.S.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary employment authorization directly related to an F-1 student’s academic program for which the work counts toward course credit. According to immigration regulations, the work performed has to be in the student's major field of study. see Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training Eligibility:
Ш The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application and have been in full-time student status for one academic year preceding the CPT application. Graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in internship/practical training may apply at any time.
Ш The work must be necessary to fulfill course/class requirements. In other words, it must be required of all students taking the course, not just related to a course.
Ш The course must be an “integral part of the established curriculum", (i.e., it must be required for the degree program or earning credit for the degree program). For graduate students receiving credit for thesis or dissertation, the work must be required to complete the thesis or dissertation.
Ш An International Student Advisor must authorize you for CPT before beginning any employment. Working prior to obtaining authorization could result in a loss of your F-1 status.
To apply for CPT bring the following to ISS:
Ш Passport, Form I-94, Form I-20 (original)
Ш Completed CPT Advisor Recommendation Form
Ш Letter from the employer describing the work to be performed by the student including the beginning and ending dates of employment, salary, and the employer's address.
Severe Economic Hardship
F-1 students, who have been enrolled full-time, are in good academic standing, and holding F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year are eligible to apply for employment authorization due to economic hardship. Employment may be authorized for up to a maximum of one year and is limited to 20 hours per week during academic semesters (full-time during vacation periods). To qualify under this provision you must demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control and that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your needs.
To apply for employment authorization please bring the following documents to
International Student & Scholar Services:
Ш Letter explaining severe economic hardship. In this letter, you should discuss the hardship situation, your effort to find on campus employment, and include a list of all income, assets, and expenses.
Ш Current passport, visa and I-94 card
Ш Current I-20
Ш Form I-765 (.pdf)
Ш 2 passport photos
Ш Check or money order made out to Department of Homeland Security for $380.00
Ш An International Student Advisor will review your documentation of economic hardship and, if appropriate, will recommend authorization for a period of up to one year.
Ш It will take USCIS approximately 90 days to process an application for work authorization based on economic hardship and they do not approve very many Hardship cases. So if your case is questionalble it may be better not to apply, if not approved you DO NOT get your money back.