F1 Student Employment Options

International students studying in the United States on F1 visa status may work in the US under certain circumstances. F1 work options include on-campus employment and off-campus employment (after their first academic year). F1 visa work restrictions limit employment for F1 students to 20 hours per week while class is in session and 40 hours per week during academic breaks and vacations.

Employment options for F1 students include:

  • On-Campus Employment
  • Off-Campus Employment
    • Curricular Practical Training
    • Optional Practical Training
    • Employment due to Economic Hardship
    • Employment with an International Organization

Unauthorized employment in the US is considered to be a clear violation of F1 visa status and may have serious consequences, so it is important that you only seek legal and allowed F1 work options. To discuss your university's F1 employment options, visit the International Student Services (ISS) advisor at your university or academic program before applying for employment in the US.

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment refers to any employment for the university or academic institution. F1 students might seek on-campus employment opportunities such as teaching assistant, research assistant, student services worker, library worker, and more. On-campus employment may include jobs that are not necessarily performed on campus grounds but affiliated with the university.

To apply for on-campus F1 employment, students do not have to obtain USCIS approval or any special employment authorization. Applying for on-campus employment varies depending on the job, but students may seek guidance from their university's career center.

Rules & Restrictions

F1 students who obtain on-campus employment:

  • Must maintain F1 visa status.
  • May only work up to 20 hours per week while class is in session and up to 40 hours per week during breaks and vacations.
  • May be eligible to continue working on-campus after completing their program of study, but in this case may need to file Form I-765 for employment authorization.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular practical training is an off-campus employment opportunity that is an essential part of the F1 student's academic program or a necessary requirement for degree completion, and in some cases must be used for academic credit. CPT employment opportunities might include internships, practicums, or work/study programs.

To apply for CPT, eligible F1 students must first obtain a job offer, and then initiate their request for CPT authorization from the school or university and file Form I-765 for employment authorization.

Rules & Restrictions

F1 students participating in a CPT program:

  • Must maintain F1 visa status.
  • Must have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year.
  • May only participate in CPT prior to the completion of the degree program.
  • Must be gaining practical training in an area directly related to their major field of study.
  • May only work for the specified employer during the authorized dates.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training is an off-campus employment opportunity for F1 students to gain hands on experience in their major field of study. OPT students can work before or after graduation, or both.

To apply for OPT, students do not need to wait for a job offer. OPT application should be submitted to USCIS within the 90 days before the degree program end date and 60 days after the degree program end date. Form I-765 for employment authorization must be submitted along with OPT application.

Rules & Restrictions

F1 students participating in an OPT program:

  • Must maintain F1 visa status.
  • Must work in an area directly related to their major field of study.
  • Must have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year.
  • May work before or after the completion of their degree program, or both.
  • May stay and work in the US for up to 12 months after completing their coursework.

Employment due to Economic Hardship

F1 students that demonstrate severe economic hardship may apply for off-campus work authorization. Eligible students for this category have experienced unexpected changes in their financial situation, which may include:

  • Loss of financial support or unforeseen changes in financial support
  • Loss of on-campus employment
  • Expensive medical bills

To apply for off-campus employment eligibility based on an economic hardship, F1 students should first discuss their financial situation with an International Student Services advisor at their university. If eligible, they must submit Form I-765 for employment authorization to USCIS.

Rules & Restrictions

F1 students seeking off-campus employment due to economic hardship:

  • Must have held F1 visa status for at least one academic year.
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must demonstrate that on-campus employment is unavailable or unable to meet financial needs.
  • Must provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances.

Employment with an International Organization

F1 students who receive an offer from an International Organization may apply for employment authorization to work off-campus. Such organizations include United Nations, World Trade Organization, and World Health Organization, among others.

To apply, eligible students must submit Form I-765 for employment authorization to USCIS.

Rules & Restrictions

F1 students working for an international organization:

  • Must have held valid F1 visa status for at least one academic year.
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must maintain full-time student status.
  • Must have received a job offer from an eligible international organization.

To discuss your F1 employment options based on your specific situation or seek out further guidance about searching or applying for F1 student jobs, you should visit your university's International Student Services.

For more information about the training programs for F1 students, visit Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).