International Student Employment

This information is official government-provided information from: Study in the States.

The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously. Therefore you must first contact your Designated School Official or DSO if you intend to work in the United States. If your DSO knows you are working without permission, your DSO must report it through SEVIS and your record can be terminated. That means that you will have to leave the United States immediately, and you may not be allowed to return.


On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is work that F-1 students whose status is Active in SEVIS status may apply for. On-campus employment is specific to work that takes place on campus or at an off-campus location that is affiliated with the school. Examples of on-campus employment include working at a university bookstore or cafeteria.

However, there are some things to keep in mind.

  • For on-campus employment opportunities visit your DSO, the Career Development Offices in the A_LAB, or see postings on the Career Development Please note: International students studying on F-1 visas are not eligible for federal work-study jobs.
  • Although you may work shortly after you arrive, you must be in Active status and your DSO must approve your request. After your DSO approves your request, you’ll be given a letter of approval. This letter, along with a letter from your employer, will help you get a Social Security number. When school is in session, you may work a maximum of 20 hours per week.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT must relate to your major or course of study, and although you can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, you must have your EAD card before you begin working.

The rules surrounding OPT are complicated, and you must see your DSO for training before applying for OPT.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

An F-1 student may be authorized by the Designated School Official (DSO) to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the DSO. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement. CPT may only be done for academic credit, must be finished prior to the completion of your degree program, must be done in the semester in which you are currently enrolled, and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program. Students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion optional practical training.

The rules surrounding CPT are complicated, and you must see your DSO for training before applying for CPT.

Social Security Number

In order to work in the United States, every eligible F student needs a Social Security number (SSN). If you do not know if you are eligible to work, please speak with your designated school official (DSO).

For more information visit the Social Security Administration website.