As a way to more fully understand your new learning environment, you may want to consider getting a job during your stay.

Employment is a benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to eligible F-1 visa students who have been in good academic standing and have not violated any F-1 status rules and regulations. You should always consult an International Student Advisor first to check your eligibility before searching for a job.

Off-Campus Employment 

There are a few different type of work opportunities you can engage in as an international student:

Practical Training

Practical training is defined as work experience in the student’s major field of study that can be conducted off-campus. Two types of practical training are available to international students: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training. 

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment that allows international students to apply their classroom knowledge in a work environment. This training must be directly related to your major field of study. There are two types of OPT: pre-completion OPT and post-competition OPT. Students are allowed 12 months of OPT for each degree level.

Pre-Completion OPT:
  • Maintained F-1 Visa status for one full academic year, within 90 days of doing so
  • Have not worked for 12 months or more with full-time CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
    • Part-time CPT does not affect OPT
Post-Completion OPT: 
  • Must apply between 90 days before graduation date and 60 days after graduation date (with an associate degree)
    • Graduation date is the day that you complete your final degree requirement
  • Have not worked for 12 months or more with full-time CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
    • Part-time CPT does not affect OPT
How to Apply to OPT:
Post-Completion OPT:
  1. File for graduation with academic counselor (need associate degree)
  2. Complete the OPT Request Form with an academic counselor
  3. Collect and complete all required documents (see below)
  4. Receive a new I-20 from ISC Advisor
  5. Mail OPT packet to USCIS office (between 90 days before your graduation and 60 days after your graduation)
  6. Receive work authorization
Application Documents: 
  • Form I-765: 
  • Application fee ($410.00)
    • Make check to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Form G-1145: 
  • Copies of ALL I-20’s issued to you (first and second page), including the new OPT I-20
  • Copy of passport identification page
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Copy of I-94: 
  • Recent passport photos with name and I-94 number written on the back
  • Photocopy of previously issued EAD (if any)
Mailing the OPT Application:
  • Pick up OPT packet with your new OPT I-20
    • Include all documents from the application checklist
  • Mail your OPT application to USCIS: Make sure to click on “Foreign Students” on the accordion drop-down and look at OPT. 
 After Applying:
  • Wait 3-5 months for response
  • Track status of OPT status on USCIS website: 
  • After your application is processed, you will receive your approval notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) & Social Security card (if applicable)
Responsibilities While on OPT:
  • Report Employment
  • Report Unemployment
    • Only 90 days of allowable unemployment
    • If you use all unemployment days, you should transfer out, change status or leave the U.S.
  • Field of Study
    • All employment must be in your field of study.
    • You must be able to explain the relation between employment and field of study
Employment Responsibilities: 
  • Post-Completion OPT
  • Work at least 20 hours per week
  • Multiple jobs are acceptable (all in your field of study)
  • Self-employment is acceptable as long as you have a proper business license, tax ID number and keep records
  • International Travel with OPT
    • Must maintain F-1 Visa status
    • Required documents: 
      • Valid F-1 visa
      • I-20 with travel signature (signature valid for 6 months while on OPT)
      • Employment authorization card (EAD)
      • Proof of employment recommended (letter from employer)
    • Should I Travel while OPT is Pending:
      •  Very risky & not recommended
      • Will need EAD card to re-enter the U.S
After OPT Ends:
  • Post-Completion OPT
    • You have a 60-day grace period
    • Things you can do during this grace period:
      • Transfer out to another U.S school
      • Prepare to leave the U.S
      • Change visa status (if applicable)