Employment is defined as “compensation for services rendered.” This means that employment also includes jobs for which you do not receive money but for example you could receive free rent, books or tuition. It is important that you obtain permission prior to engaging in any type of employment.
F-1 international students are eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. This includes working for vendors on campus (such as Sodexo or the bookstore).
It is often difficult to find jobs on campus because many offices do not have budgets to employ student workers. Many offices may ask if you have “work study,” which is a Federally funded student grant program. As international students, you are not eligible to receive “work study” funds.
For a list of offices on campus who hire international students, please visit the Student Employment Office located on the first floor of Donahue. Please be sure to bring your on-campus employment permission form so offices know that you have permission to work.
During major school breaks, which includes the winter and summer break, international students are eligible to work full-time on campus.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment for students in F-1 status. CPT is designed to provide hands-on experience in your major field of study that is an integral part of the established curriculum. Employment that is required for your degree will always qualify for CPT regardless of whether or not you receive academic credit.
Cooperative Education is another way in which CPT can be authorized. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education provides students with opportunities to gain practical experience related to their major field of study.
There are two ways in which F-1 students at Suffolk are eligible for CPT:
1) Employment that is a required part of a degree program. This employment must be documented in the school catalog and other publications.
In order to be eligible for CPT, undergraduate students must have completed one academic year of full-time study. Graduate students may apply prior to completion of the academic year if the degree program requires that the employment begin in the first semester of school. All students must:
2) Cooperative Education Program. This employment must be approved by the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.
All students must:
All students must receive approval by the ISS and received a properly endorsed Form I-20 prior to engaging in employment.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to work off-campus in a job that is directly related to their major field of study. An offer of employment is not required to apply for OPT. OPT can be used while you are a student and after you graduate. Most students take advantage of the post- completion OPT so that they can dedicate all of their time to their job without having to attend school.
Students must be in F-1 status for one academic year before becoming eligible for OPT. While a job offer is not required in order to apply, students must start employment that is directly related to their major field of study. Students are allowed a total of twelve months of full-time OPT per degree level. Any periods of OPT used prior to completion of studies will be dedicated from the total twelve month period available.
Pre-completion OPT may be approved:
Post-completion OPT may be approved:
When to apply
Students may apply for OPT up to 90 days before the proposed start date (for pre-completion) or the date of completion (for post-completion). Due to the nature of immigration applications, it is important for students to apply as early as possible within the 90 day window to ensure a timely start whether pre- or post-completion.
The OPT application process can be complicated so students must follow these steps in order to obtain employment authorization for OPT:
Students must then express mail their OPT application to:
2501 S. State Hwy 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
The Cap Gap is an automatic extension of work authorization for those students on post-completion OPT who have filed a valid H-1B petition prior to the expiration of their current EAD (for post-completion OPT). USCIS has developed an comprehensive FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which is designed to help you ascertain whether or not you’re eligible and what you need to do.
This extension of post-completion OPT is specifically for those students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Students are only eligible if they work for an e-Verify employer and they qualify in their field.
If you qualify for a STEM extension, you must submit the application before the end of your OPT.