Employment for International Students and Scholars
J-1 scholars are authorized to work only within the parameters of their approved program, and only for the program sponsor or under an approved cooperation between the sponsor and a third party. A professor, for example, can accept an invitation to present a lecture at another school if approved by his or her sponsoring academic department.
There are only three kinds of employment permitted on the F-1 visa. Any other kind of employment, including babysitting, gardening and freelancing, is considered illegal and if discovered, would terminate the F-1 visa status. The three kinds of employment that are permitted are:
On-campus Jobs: F-1 students are permitted up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session. The job must be an on-campus position, and may include contractual organizations that operate on the school campus, like a food service company.
- Practical Training: Practical training is an authorized employment in the student’s field of study that contributes to the student’s educational experience. Curricular Practical Training (CPT): is a required internship, clinical placement or supervised activity that is part of a student’s academic program. CPT requires authorization on the third page of the student’s I-20. To request authorization from the DSO, the student must have a letter from his/her academic adviser explaining how the employment is part of the student’s educational experience. A maximum of 20 hours per week is permitted when classes are in session.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): is practical training that is not required of a student’s academic program. It can be accomplished during a summer or after the completion of coursework. The student must fill out an application, prepare the accompanying documents (including a new I-20 with OPT authorization on the third page), and send these to USCIS for adjudication. The adjudication takes between 60 to 90 days, and the student may not work until the application is approved by USCIS and he/she has the OPT card in hand.
J-1 students are limited to two kinds of employment, and must first seek authorization from OISSS before starting work.
Academic Training related to the course of study, and Severe (unexpected) Economic Need: If an F-1 student encounters unexpected financial difficulty because of unforeseen circumstances like a sponsor withdrawing support or a sudden devaluation of foreign currency, he or she may apply to USCIS for employment authorization based on severe economic need. The student should see the DSO for authorization and instructions on how to prepare the required application and its accompanying documents. Only when the student’s application is approved by USCIS and he or she has the employment authorization card (EAD), can he or she look for employment off-campus. The student is limited to 20 hours a week when classes are in session. The EAD must be renewed yearly. More information is available from OISSS.