Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Employment Options for Students on an F-1 Visa

 Employment Options for Students on an F-1 Visa
By Naimeesha Murthy
World Education Services

If you are an international student studying in the U.S., you have the opportunity to work either full- or part-time, but it’s important to remember that you are limited by certain rules because of your visa status. It is vital for you to be aware of all the regulations and requirements regarding your visa before you start working.

The F-1 student visa status allows the following categories of employment:
  • On-campus employment: International students can work on campus (as a teaching or research assistant, working in the university center, etc.) up to 20 hours per week during the academic term and full-time during the academic break periods, including summer time, as long as you are pursuing a full-time course load. Once you complete your courses, you are no longer eligible to work on-campus without special approval. 
  • Off-campus employment: Off-campus employment requires some form of written or documented authorization issued by either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the university.
    • To be eligible for off-campus employment, you must be enrolled as an F-1 student for a minimum of one academic year. Employment, both on and off campus, is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and can be full-time during the vacation or break periods.
  • Curricular practical training (CPT): CPT is off-campus employment or an internship related to your major that is an optional requirement of a course. You must be registered for a class where you will receive unit credit for the training or internship. CPT is limited to part-time while classes are in session and may be full-time during the break periods. CPT is not deducted from your 12 months of OPT. In this case, you will not be eligible for any OPT. Authorization for CPT is granted by your university’s Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) and can take about 2 weeks. No fee is required.
  • Optional practical training (OPT): OPT is employment or training directly related to your field of study. OPT provides an opportunity for students to obtain actual work experience in the U.S. related to your studies. With F-1 status, you are allowed 12 months of full-time OPT per degree program. The actual work authorization is granted by USCIS and can take up to 90 days to process a practical training application. Employment cannot begin until the immigration service has granted the authorization.
  • OPT STEM extension: Recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain government-designated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility period of up to 36 months). Be sure to research the OPT STEM extension requirements set by USCIS.
  • Employment due to economic hardship: F-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus work based on economic hardship caused by unanticipated conditions. Applications for this work permit have to be submitted and approved by the USCIS. Students applying for this type of work authorization are required to find a long-term employment on-campus. The authorization is granted by USCIS in the form of an EAD card that takes approximately 90 days for processing and requires a fee. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals.
We hope that this information has given you some insights about your work eligibility as an F-1 student. Listed below are some additional resources you can explore for your job search. Hope it helps—and good luck!
  • Myvisajobs.com is an employment website for foreign workers seeking opportunities in U.S. 
  • The Indeed site has a filter to search for jobs eligible for H-1B visas. 
  • Another employment site, Monster also has a section dedicated to H-1B sponsorship jobs. 
  • Social networking site LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional network and search for jobs. 
  • You can subscribe for access to the H1visajobs.com online database of H-1B friendly employers.

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