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Employment Options for F-1 Students

Employment options for International Students in F-1 status:

International Academic Students (F-1) may work in the United States under certain circumstances. USCIS issues documents showing employment authorization based on the type of employment the students have.

 

OPT - Optional Practical Training

F-1 international students are eligible to apply for 12 months of OPT employment after finishing their course of study (e.g. a bachelor's degree). F-1 international students majoring in STEM can extend their 12 months of OPT employment by 2 more years.

The F-1 student may not begin employment until USCIS issues the Employment Authorization Document.

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STEM OPT - Optional Practical Training for Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Programs

F-1 international students are eligible to apply for 12 months of OPT employment after finishing their course of study (e.g. a bachelor's degree). In addition, F-1 international students majoring in STEM can extend their 12 months of OPT employment by 2 more years.

The F-1 student may not begin employment until USCIS issues the Employment Authorization Document.

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CPT - Curricular Practical Training

CPT is any alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required internship or practicum offered by employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum.

In most cases, a prospective employer presents a job offer with a detailed description of duties to be performed. The Designated School Official (DSO) then authorizes CPT employment on student's I-20. Each academic program has its own rules and requirements for CPT - details can be obtained from the school's international students' office.

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Cap-Gap Extension for H-1B Beneficiaries 

The term “cap-gap” refers to the period between the time a nonimmigrant's F-1 student status would ordinarily end and their H-1B status begins. F-1 students who are beneficiaries of H-1B petitions may be eligible for Cap-Gap Extension if the H-1B status is set to begin on October 1.

Under certain circumstances, an F-1 student can continue working after the expiration of the OPT employment authorization. 

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On campus employment

International students in F-1 nonimmigrant status may work on campus without the approval of a designated school official (DSO) or USCIS.

Locations where F-1 students may work include:

  • The school's premises, including on-location commercial firms that provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria; and
  • Somewhere off campus that is educationally affiliated with the school.

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Off Campus due to Economic Hardship

F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions.

After the first academic year, F-1 students can seek off-campus employment due to Severe Economic Hardship.

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Attorney Marcin Muszynski, Esq. is committed to answering your questions and to finding solutions to reach your goals.

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