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What are my employment options as an F1 Visa holder?

Though your employment option is limited, you are allowed to take off-campus, on-campus, part-time, and full-time employment under certain conditions. You can discuss your employment options with a foreign student advisor of your university or school. Below are various employment options for international students with F-1 visas and their requirements.

On-Campus Employment

As a foreign student, you are permitted to take on-campus employment under the following conditions:

  • You must be in good academic standing.
  • You must not work more than 20 hours per week when your university is in session. (There are no limitations on work duration during vacations periods.)

On-campus employments includes work given and paid for by the university that issued you the Form I-20, work done for a business inside the school premises which is providing services directly to the students, and work done in another place that has educational affiliation with your university (the off-campus employment must constitute an integral part of your program of studies in the university).

Off-campus employment

Students with an F-1 visa can take off-campus employment under CPT for a period of one year. The eligibility for off-campus employment includes the following:

  • You must have completed 2 semesters of studies (excluding summer) with F-1 status.
  • The work to be done must be an integral part of your program of study.
  • You should have been registered for internship for academic credit.
  • You must have an internship job offer.

There are no limitations on work duration for full-time off-campus employment. But if you have a part-time off-campus employment, you are limited to 20 hours or less of work per week.

Note that you are no longer eligible to apply for post-completion optional practical training (OPT) if you are given the authorization to take a full-time employment for one year under curricular practical training.

OPT pre-completion of studies employment option

To be eligible for OPT pre-completion of studies employment you must have completed 2 semesters of studies, excluding summers, as F-1 status. Your employment also must be related to your area of studies. There is no limitation on work duration during vacation periods but you are limited to 20 hours of work per week when the school is in session.

Note that the time spent for work during pre-completion OPT employment is part of the 12 months post completion OPT given by USCIS to international students with F-1 visas. Thus, the number of months remaining is the number of months you will work during your post-completion OPT.

OPT Post Completion of Studies Employment

It has the same eligibility and work duration with OPT pre-completion of studies employment option.

Note that if you complete your program and take up another higher degree program, you are entitled to additional 12 months of OPT.

Employment with an international organization

Students with F-1 visas are allowed to work for recognized international organizations in so far as their F-1 visa status is still valid. There are no limitations on work duration for such employment.

Severe Financial Hardship Employment

International students with F-1 visas who are facing serious financial hardship may be allowed to work if the financial needs result from unforeseen circumstances. Secondly, they should have tried other employment options and none worked out for them. They are also required to obtain approval from the International Student Services (ISS) office. Employment under severe financial hardship has no limitation during vacation periods. However, students working under financial hardships are limited to 20 hours of work during the academic year.

For detailed information on the options available to you and for expert help on your immigration process, you should contact our office and speak with our experienced and professional attorney.

Updated on January 15, 2020

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