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Working Opportunities for International Students in the USA
As an international student studying in the USA, you have the opportunity to explore part-time work options. However, it’s important to note that the type of visa you hold upon entry to the US may impose certain restrictions. We strongly advise you to familiarize yourself with the requirements and limitations specific to your visa type.
To gain more clarity about your visa type and its implications, we recommend seeking guidance from an immigration attorney or visiting our international student immigration center.
Employment Rules for F-1 Visa Holders
The F-1 visa is the most common type of student visa issued to international students in the USA.
Under specific conditions, F-1 visa holders are permitted to work in the United States, subject to certain restrictions and guidelines set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
There are two main categories of employment available to students with F-1 visas: on-campus employment and off-campus employment.
There are four categories of off-campus employment available to F-1 visa holders (Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Severe Economic Hardship and International Institutions).
On-campus employment is the most accessible type of employment for F-1 visa holders, as it does not require approval from the USCIS. However, please note that on-campus job opportunities are typically limited in most schools. While on-campus employment may not fully cover your financial needs for the year, it can provide valuable work experience, although the roles may not be directly related to your field of study. It’s important to obtain permission from your school’s International Student Office before commencing on-campus work, and some schools may not allow students to work during their first semester.
- Maintain valid F-1 status.
- Work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- Work full-time on campus during vacation periods and holidays, provided the student intends to register for the next academic semester.
- Employment must not displace or take away job opportunities from US residents.
OPT allows F-1 students to work off-campus during and after completing their degree. Prior authorization from the USCIS and your school’s International Student Office is required. To be eligible for OPT, students must have been enrolled and studying for at least nine months. Employment can be anywhere in the US, and the USCIS typically takes around 90 days to process OPT applications. It is crucial to work closely with your school’s International Student Office to maintain your student status throughout your OPT period.
CPT is an off-campus employment category that allows students to engage in work directly related to their degree program. CPT is typically offered through cooperative agreements between sponsoring employers and the student’s school. To qualify for CPT, students must have been enrolled full-time for at least one year and must receive academic credit or fulfill a program requirement. Prior authorization from the International Student Office is necessary, and employment is limited to specific dates and employers.
Students facing severe economic hardship beyond their control may be eligible for off-campus employment. Under this category, students can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during breaks. To qualify, students must maintain good academic standing, be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year, demonstrate evidence of economic hardship, show that on-campus employment is insufficient, and make efforts to find on-campus employment before applying.
The final category of off-campus employment is for students working for recognized international organizations listed by the State Department. These organizations may include the Red Cross, World Health Organization, African and Asian Development Banks, World Trade Organization, and others. To qualify, students must have employment or internships within their field of study sponsored by a recognized international organization. They must also maintain good academic standing and valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS is required, which may take up to three months to obtain.
Please note that the information provided here serves as a general overview, and it is essential to consult with your International Student Office for specific guidance and up-to-date information regarding employment opportunities and visa regulations.
Working as an international student in the USA can provide valuable experience and help support your financial needs, but it is crucial to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the USCIS and maintain your student status throughout your studies.