Immigration Law Associates
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Working while in F-1 status

On-campus employment
Once a person is initially admitted to the U.S. in F-1 status, he may work on-campus only. During the school year, an F-1 student is allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus. He or she may work 20 hours or more per week when school is not in session (e.g. spring break, Christmas vacation, etc.)


Off-campus employment
A student in good standing, who has been enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year, may ask permission from the Designated School Official (DSO) to work off-campus under certain conditions.


Practical training
A student in F-1 status who has been enrolled as a full-time student for one academic year may apply for practical training as long as it is directly related to the student's course of study, and its purpose is for practical training, and the training is not for English language proficiency.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is typically in the form of work/study, internships, cooperative education, etc. A job offer and DSO authorization are necessary to pursue CPT. CPT may be available to graduate students as early as their first academic term, depending on the school's curriculum and requirements.

Applications for CPT are submitted to and approved by the DSO. Although completion of a year of full-time CPT disqualifies the student from Optional Practical Training (OPT), part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to F-1 students during their studies ("pre-completion OPT") or after completing their degree program ("post-completion OPT"). A total of 12 months of full-time OPT is available to F-1 students for each progressive degree level. Applications for OPT must be discussed with the DSO and filed with the USCIS. An EAD will be issued by the USCIS for the requested period of work authorization.

Students who have completed a degree in certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible an additional 24 months of OPT. For more information, see OPT extension for STEM degree students.


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