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.

 Working on Campus

Getting an on-campus job is an excellent way to get to know PCC!

To get approval for on-campus employment, first you need to:

  • Be currently enrolled in 12 or more units at PCC and maintain 12 units throughout the entire semester

To get started on your employment and apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), follow these steps:

  1. Find a department that would hire you and obtain a job offer letter from them.
  2. Submit copy of your job offer letter and a Letter Request to ISC. A Social Security Verification Letter will be issued to you.
  3. Apply for a Social Security Number through your local Social Security Administration office. Bring the following documents to your appointment:
    1. ISC Social Security Verification Letter
    2. Job Offer Letter
    3. Complete Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5)
    4. Original Passport
    5. Original I-20 (for students applying for CPT, I-20 with CPT endorsement)
    6. I-94
  4. After receiving a social security number (in the mail), bring the following items to the Human Resources department at PCC to complete your hiring:
    1. Original Social Security Number
    2. ISC Social Security Verification Letter
    3. Job Offer Letter
    4. Original Passport and Visa
    5. Original I-20
    6. I-94

You can work on-campus with a maximum 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring Semesters. During Winter and Summer sessions, you may work up to 40 hours per week.

Some on-campus sites where international students have worked in the past include the Learning Assistance Center, Campus Bookstore, First Year Experience (FYE) Center, International Student Center, Science Village, JAM, PCC Police Department and Shatford Library.

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 CPT?

Curricular Practice Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students to engage in an off campus academic internships or employment that is a required or an integral part of their academic curriculum.

  • Occurs before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20
  • Authorization is for one specific employer and for a specific period of time
  • Student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized
CPT Types:
  • Part-time: up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (Fall and Spring)
  • Full-time: more than 20 hours or more per week (only available during Summer or Winter)
    • One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible to apply for CPT, students must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Have been lawfully enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year or will complete one year within 90 days of applying
  • Have secured an internship offer directly related to the major field of study
  • Is not studying English as a second language
  • Be enrolled in a major course that requires field work or an internship course (BUS 070A or BUS 070B)
Internship Courses:
  • BUS 070A: Paid Internships
  • BUS 070B: Unpaid Internships
How to Apply to CPT:
  1. Secure the internship and obtain the job offer letter
    1. Need help? Speak with an Internship/Wk Based Learning Staff at the Freeman Center for Career and Completion. You may contact them by email at or complete and submit the internship appointment information form. 
    2. The job offer letter should be in the company’s letter head and include the following information: employment start and end date, indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, whether the training is paid or unpaid, employer’s name, employer’s address, immediate supervisor’s contact information and explanation of duties.
  2. Enroll in a major related course that requires field work or 
  3. Enroll in the internship course, approved by Dr. Kimberly J. Shediak. You may contact Dr. Shediak by email at once you have secured the internship. 
    1. Provide the following information in your email: Job offer letter (see above for job offer letter requirements)
    2. Request to enroll in an internship class
    3. If the instructor approves the internship, you will be cleared to register for the right internship class (BUS 070A or BUS070B)
  4. Complete the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request form
  5. Submit CPT request form and job offer letter to ISC Advisor
  6. You will receive an email once your CPT I-20 is ready. 
    1. Be sure to sign and date your CPT I-20
    2. You will receive additional instructions on how to apply for a Social Security Number from an Educational Advisor
    3. If any details of your CPT change, please notify the ISC Advisor, so that we may update your CPT accordingly
Responsibilities While on CPT:
  • CPT is only approved for the duration of the class
  • A new authorization is required each session/semester
  • Students cannot begin working until AFTER they have received CPT approval from ISC Advisor
  • Follow the rules of the CPT authorization; do not work outside of the start and end dates or for another company
  • Continue to maintain full time enrollment, unless approved for reduced course load
  • Report any changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to ISC within 10 days of any change

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)

Economic Hardship:

You must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year. You also must prove to USCIS that employment is needed due to SEVERE Economic Hardship caused by circumstances beyond student’s control. Must apply to USCIS for approval and show proof of hardship.


Many international students are interested in volunteering their time during their stay in the United States for a variety of reasons, like serving others or strengthening their transfer applications. You may wish to participate in a campus club service event, help out at a food bank, or volunteer in a company in your field, perhaps to “shadow” or observe to gain real-world experience. While the issue of volunteering may seem clear-cut (“I’m not getting paid, therefore I am not working”), it is actually complex and involves immigration regulations and labor law. Some of these activities are legally acceptable, and some are not. Generally any type of volunteer work that is related to a campus club activity is approved. Volunteering off-campus might not be approved. To avoid problems with your visa, please check with the International Student Center before engaging in volunteer activities that are not connected with a student club or a charitable organization.