Employment and practical training opportunities for international students.
International degree-seeking, exchange and visiting students may accept only an on-campus job and work for no more than 20 hours each week during the two academic semesters.
Definition of employment
Employment is the rendering of services on either a part-time or full-time basis for compensation, financial or otherwise, including self-employment (uncompensated activity is referred to as volunteering).
Part-time employment is defined as work for a total of 20 hours/week or fewer.
Full-time employment is defined as work for a total of more than 20 hours/week.
Potential effects on international students
International students who do not respect the U.S. employment restrictions violate their F1- Student Visa status. Potential effects of violating international student visa status include, but are not limited to, termination of SEVIS record and the need to regain visa status through costly and sometimes lengthy procedures. Please direct questions about employment restrictions to the International Student Office.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular practical training (CPT) is available to international degree-seeking students who have been enrolled for at least one academic year.
You must obtain permission to engage in CPT before you begin employment. To apply for CPT, submit the following to the International Student Advisor:
- A completed CPT Application your I-20 (student) copy, and
- Job offer or class registration with the contract or agreement from your academic department
Your international student advisor will endorse your I-20 for curricular practical training for the specific employer, half-time or full-time, and for the dates of your internship. You don't need authorization from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to degree-seeking international students who have maintained lawful F-1 Student status for the last 9 months.
Should I apply for OPT? Only 12 months of optional practical training are available during your U.S. studies, so you must carefully consider if and when you want to take advantage of this opportunity. For example, if you work full-time during three summers, then you will only be eligible for 3 months when you graduate. You can apply for part of your practical training after one degree and part after another. For instance, you could apply for 6 months of practical training following your bachelor's and another 6 months following your Master's, but the total amount of time cannot be more than 12 months.
When can I apply? You must submit an application to the Office of International Programs before you begin your practical training. You can apply 90 days before the completion of your studies and up to 60 days after completion.
OPT Application steps:
- Obtain your I-20ID (Student) Copy.
- Complete the I-765 - EAD application.
- A check for $410.
- Obtain your I-94 form.
- Obtain a letter from your academic advisor certifying your field of study, specifying when you will complete your studies, and a statement that the proposed employment is directly related to your major area of study and commensurate with your educational level.
- Include two photos with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to INS. The INS specifications about the photos are extremely detailed.
- Once you have completed these requirements schedule an appointment with an adviser in the Office of International Programs. Processing time is between 3 to 5 Months.
When can I begin practical training?
Once you have received your EAD and the date for employment is current, you may begin practical training. You may not begin your practical training until you receive your EAD.
Can I change employers?
You may change employers after practical training has been authorized provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone with your level of education.
Can I travel outside the United States?
You may not travel outside of the U.S. after you graduate and before you receive your EAD. Once you have been granted practical training, you can travel outside the U.S. if you have (1) a valid visa, (2) Form I-20ID (STUDENT) Copy, endorsed for travel by Student Affairs "within the last six months," and (3) the "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD). Students who do not meet these requirements may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Check with the Office of International Programs before planning any travel outside the U.S.
Whether you work or not, you must file an income tax return form.
Filing Your Taxes
The international student office will help you prepare your taxes. Contact the Office of International Programs to ask about the annual tax deadline, which usually is about the second week of April. International students with F-1 Status are required to file Form 8843. You do not need a social security number to complete Form 8843.
U.S. Tax Treaties
The United States has income tax treaties with several foreign countries. Under these treaties, residents (not necessarily citizens) of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate or are exempt from U.S. income taxes on certain items of income they receive from sources within the United States. These reduced rates and exemptions vary among countries and specific items of income. If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the United States, you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown on Form 1040NR.