Skip to main content
F-1 Student Employment

Earn While You Learn - Employment Options for International Students

While your F-1 visa was issued specifically for you to be able to study in the United States, there are several employment options that are permitted. Whether you are looking for employment that complements your studies and helps you build on-the-job skills or you’re in need of a little extra money to help ends meet, you have some choices.

Find Job Assistance That Meets Visa Guidelines

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that F-1 students must be coming to the United States solely to pursue a full-course of academic, language, or other non-vocational study. Nevertheless, F-1 students may work under certain circumstances.

F-1 students have the following work opportunities:

  • On-Campus Employment
  • Severe Economic Hardship
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

On-Campus Employment

Pick Up a Campus Job

International students on F-1 status are eligible to work on campus 20 hours per week while school is in session, and there is no limitation on work hours during scheduled breaks.

Students are eligible to begin employment immediately upon being admitted to the United States on F-1 status. Pursuant to Department of State regulations, this may be as much as 30 days before classes begin. Once a student obtains a campus job, there is no limit on how long the student can maintain the position.

Check with Student Services  to apply for jobs. Note that international students are not eligible for Federal Work Study jobs.

Curricular Practical Training

Put Your Knowledge to the Test with CPT and Get Course Credit

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is designed to provide eligible students with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience that is “an integral part of an established curriculum”. Such training is defined as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” The training must be a requirement or an integral part of your degree which means you must receive credit for the training.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at Urbana University.

You must be registered for a course that is essential to your program of study to be considered for CPT. Your academic advisor must sign off on the CPT Application forms. If you are determined to be eligible, OIS will authorize your CPT. With this authorization you can begin your employment. You are not eligible to work until you receive this authorization from OISP. No other authorization is required for CPT.

Students who have engaged in one year or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Part-time Curricular Practical Training does not impact your ability to use OPT at all.

Eligibility requirements and limitations at Urbana University:

  • CPT will be authorized for one semester at a time based on the academic calendar for that semester.
  • CPT is limited to a maximum period of three academic 
  • CPT authorization will not be renewed if the student does not meet Standards of Academic Progress established by the Office of International Students & Programs for F-1 international students.
  • Graduate students who are completing undergraduate level prerequisite courses will only be allowed to pursue CPT after they have completed all their prerequisite courses and are enrolled in graduate-level coursework.

Application process for CPT:

  1. Email OIS to determine if you are eligible for CPT based on current immigration regulation.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your Academic Advisor to determine academic eligibility for CPT 
  3. Secure an internship position and obtain an internship offer letter.
  4. Meet with the person who will supervise you at the internship site to discuss the internship and get the necessary documents needed for your OPT application.
  5. Have your Academic Advisor Sign off on your Application.
  6. Bring all documents to the OIS office for a final decision on your CPT
  7. Once your decision is made you will receive an e-mail notifying you of your approval or denial with the reasoning. If you are approved you will then be able to come and collect your new I20 with CPT approval. Please keep your OLD I20 as well as your new I20.

F-1 students may not begin Curricular Practical Training until the Form I-20 has been endorsed to indicate authorization. International students must not continue employment beyond the date authorized.  

Severe Economic Hardship

Find Relief When the Unexpected Comes Your Way

Severe economic hardship employment was established to provide students who have experienced a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship since obtaining F-1 status the opportunity to obtain employment authorization. The change in your financial situation must be unforeseen and through no fault of your own. Just what constitutes a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship is debatable. Some examples would include: loss of on-campus employment: unexpected loss of a scholarship; serious currency devaluation when the funds come from abroad; excessive tuition and fee increases; medical bills; burglary or robbery (with a police report); substantial increases in living costs; disruption of a sponsor’s income; death of a sponsor etc.

You will need to document to OIS your ‘severe’ and ‘unforeseen’ economic hardship. If determined the circumstances to be severe and unforeseen we will recommend to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approval of your application for a work permit. If granted, the work permit is valid for part-time employment (20 hours a week or less while school is in session) and full time during scheduled breaks. OIS’s recommendation does not guarantee approval of your application.

Severe Economic Hardship Checklist

  • Form I-765 completed and signed
  • Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/ Petition Acceptance (not required)
  • Documentation of the economic hardship
  • Photocopy of I-20 with severe economic hardship commendation made within the past 30 days
  • Photocopies of all previous I-20’s, including endorsement page
  • Photocopies of any previous EAD’s
  • Photocopy of biographical page of passport
  • Photocopy of most recent visa (not required)
  • Photocopy of electronic I-94
  • 2 recent photos of the student per DHS specifications
  • Check made out to the Department of Homeland Security for $410

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Extend Your Stay in the United States with OPT After Graduation

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 students to gain work experience to complement their academic program. All F-1 students are entitled to one year of Optional Practical Training for each higher degree they receive. OPT is available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis for one full academic year at Urbana University.

To engage in OPT employment you must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the DHS center having jurisdiction over your place of residence.

OPT employment must be related to the student's field of study. You may not accept OPT employment until the DHS approves the application and provides you with an EAD.

Please contact the OIS to set up your appointment to discuss OPT and your options after graduation.

Related Pages