The most important employment issue that you always need to keep in mind is the issue of legal (or "authorized") versus illegal (or "unauthorized") employment. You must always make sure that any employment you plan to engage in is legal employment.
Different requirements exist for each type of F-1 employment, but there is one basic requirement that must be met for any F-1 employment: You must be enrolled in a full course of study.
Once employment is authorized you must maintain eligibility or you will lose your right to continue employment, even if it was authorized in writing.
Suffolk students in F-1 status may work "on campus" up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during holiday and vacation periods.
USCIS defines on-campus employment as the following:
Type 1: Employment at Suffolk University: Any on-campus work for which you receive a paycheck (or other compensation, such as room and board, etc.) from Suffolk University.
Type 2: Certain Off-Campus Employment where there is an official educational relationship between Suffolk and the off-campus employer. USCIS regulations allow work at an off-campus location provided the:
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus.
To be eligible for the initial 12 month OPT period, the student must:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students when the practical training employment is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic program.
The employment (usually an internship or practicum) is a degree requirement of all students in the program. Each school and each degree program within the school has different requirements that affect your eligibility for CPT. Please check with ISSO.
You must have been in lawful F-1 status for at least one academic year.
You must have an offer of employment that qualifies for CPT.
You must provide proof that the proposed employment is either a degree requirement for all students in your program or that you will receive academic credit based on your proposed employment experience.
Your first step is to contact your academic department chair, faculty advisor or designated internship coordinator to evaluate your eligibility for curricular practical training. If all eligibility requirements are met, you will need to present ISSO with a completed CPT Request Form signed by your academic adviser. CPT request forms are available in the ISSO office and on SUConnect.
Curricular practical training is authorized by ISSO; it does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). A new SEVIS I-20 will be issued denoting employment authorization, including the employer and the dates authorized, on page three. You may not change employers or continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your CPT. Work undertaken after the expiration date of your CPT will be considered unauthorized employment.
During the academic year, CPT employment is limited to part time, i.e. no more than 20 hours per week and you must continue to be enrolled as a full time student.
Full time CPT, which is more than 20 hours per week, is generally available to students only during the summer break.
In your CPT authorization which appears on page three of your I-20, it will be noted whether your CPT is part time or full time.
The time you spend in full time curricular practical training will not be deducted from the twelve months of allowable optional practical training UNLESS you use 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training.
Your I-20 form authorized for CPT is all you will need to provide your employer. Within the first three days of beginning work you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification, USCIS Form I-9. Your I-20 with curricular practical training employment page (Page 3) and your unexpired passport should meet the documentation requirements of the I-9.
If you don’t have a U.S. Social Security Number, you should apply for one while using CPT.
In some instances, a student who is able to prove severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control, which arose after obtaining the F-1 students status, may be eligible for permission to work off campus. Students must have been in student status for one full academic year, and must be able to document the circumstances causing the economic need. If authorized, employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during the break or vacation periods. Applications must be endorsed by ISSO and submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for approval. This application may take up to ninety days to process. Contact ISSO for more information.