There are different types of employment and training opportunities available to F-1 students depending upon their program of study, the amount of time they have been in the US as a student, and their personal circumstances. Following is a brief description of each type. Please speak with the Office for International Students for more details, including application timelines.
On-campus employment: F-1 students are permitted to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and for more than 20 hours per week when classes are in recess. There is no waiting period for this benefit.
Off-campus employment: Students must receive approval from US Customs and Immigration Service before beginning off-campus work.
Curricular Practical Training: Also called CPT, is training that is an integral part of the student's academic curriculum (for example, a required internship). Students must be enrolled in a degree-granting program, and generally are required to have completed a full academic year before starting CPT. Exceptions to the full academic year requirement may be made for students enrolled in a graduate-level program. Students in the Intensive English or Academic English programs are not eligible for CPT. CPT may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. However, 12 or more months of full-time CPT will affect the student's eligibility for Optional Practical Training. Students must receive approval from a Designated School Official before beginning CPT.
Optional Practical Training: There are three subtypes of Optional Practical Training or OPT: prior-to-completion OPT, post-completion OPT and STEM OPT. Students are required to obtain positions that are directly related to their major program of study. Students in the Intensive English or Academic English programs are not eligible for OPT.
Students are permitted up to 12 months total of prior-to-completion and post-completion OPT per academic level. Students are limited to 20 hours per week of prior-to-completion OPT while school is in session, but can request full-time training during school breaks. Post-completion OPT is expected to be full time. A student may apply for OPT prior to receiving an offer of employment, but is limited to 90 days total of unemployment.
Students with qualifying Science, Technology, Engineering or Math degrees are eligible for an additional 24 months of training after completing 12 months of standard OPT. Students are required to have an employer prior to applying for STEM OPT, and are subject to more frequent reporting requirements. Students engaged in STEM OPT are allowed up to 150 days total of unemployment.