Working in the U.S.

F-1 Students: Work Authorization Options

U. S. immigration regulations restrict work authorization for international students. In general, there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

On-Campus Employment:

Enrolled F-1 students may work on the campus of Concord University. You may work ONLY 20 hours per week when classes are in session. During school breaks, you may work full-time.


* Does not have to be related to your field of study

* You may begin working as soon as you are a student


* A limited number of employment opportunities are available

Off-Campus Employment:

After being enrolled for one full academic year, F-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus employment in their major field of study. This could be full-time during semester breaks or part–time (no more than 20 hours per week) during the academic year. There are two types of off-campus work authorization called “practical training”.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training allows you to be paid for work in your field of study BEFORE you graduate. The work must either be required for your degree program or you must receive credit in a course for the work. Students may work part-time (20 hours per week or less) during the academic year or full-time during semester breaks.


* The application is filed through the International Office and does not have to be sent to the Immigration Service.

* Is not subtracted from your 12 months of optional practical training unless you work cumulatively full-time 12 months or more.


* You must receive academic credit for your work or it must be required for your degree.

Optional Practical Training (OPT):

Optional Practical Training allows you to work in your major field of study and is authorized by the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). After being enrolled for a full academic year, you are eligible to apply for OPT in your field of studies. You may receive one 12-month period of optional practical training for each higher education degree you receive. It may be used before or after completion of studies. Students in certain fields of study may also apply for a 17 month extension of this OPT.

OPT can be used full-time during the summer and winter semester break, or part-time (no more than 20 hours of total employment per week, including any on-campus work) during the academic year. However, the time spent with this type of employment authorization before you graduate will be subtracted from your 12 months of optional practical training after completion of studies. After graduation OPT is authorized for full-time only (not part-time).


* Does not need to be for-credit or required for your degree program

* Little paper work is required from your employer


* Must mail in your application to the USCIS with a fee

* Takes 60-90 days to get the approval

24-month extension of OPT for students in certain fields: F-1 students on OPT who have received a degree in the fields referred to as “STEM” fields (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), will have an opportunity to apply for a one-time 24-month extension of their regular 12 month OPT period. Criteria for the 24-month extension are:

* Your employer must be enrolled in the “E-Verify” program

* You must have graduated and be working in one of the “STEM” fields

* You must have maintained status while on OPT

Working for International Organizations:

F-1 students are also eligible to do an internship with certain international organizations. In order to do this, F-1 students need to apply for an employment authorization document through USCIS.


* The employment is for an internship with a recognized international organization and is within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship.

* The student has been enrolled for at least one full academic year.

* The employment must be within the field of study

* To apply for EAD send the following to USCIS:

* A written certification from the organization stating that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship

* An I-20 with signature by the International Student Advisor within the last 30 days

* A completed I-765

* Fee


* Does not have to be for-credit nor required for your degree program

* Does not take away from your 12 months of optional practical training after completion of studies


* Must mail in your application with fee

* Processing time is 60-90 days

Economic Hardship Employment

An F-1 student who has maintained F-1 status for an academic year and is in good academic standing may apply for “off-campus employment based on economic hardship”. Economic hardship refers to the financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. These financial problems may be the result of the death of a financial sponsor, inflation in the home country causing the devaluation of currency or exchange rate, etc.