F-1 visas are intended to enable international students to study in the United States, and there are strict employment restrictions for F-1 students while attending school in the U.S. For this reason, before being admitted to the U.S., you must have documentary evidence that you have the financial ability (e.g., present bank statements) to pay for tuition and living expenses while studying in the U.S.
If F-1 students do not follow the terms of their nonimmigrant status as stated in the regulations and accept employment off-campus without proper authorization, they are jeopardizing their lawful F-1 status, and their SEVIS record may be terminated. Once the SEVIS record is terminated due to unauthorized employment, students must depart the country immediately. Therefore, F-1 students should always consult with an international student advisor at the Center for International Education before seeking any employment in the U.S.
F-1 students are generally eligible to work on campus while attending classes. The work does not have to be related to your field of study. Inform the Center for International Education of your employment offer on campus. An advisor will verify that you are eligible for on-campus employment (i.e., confirm that you are maintaining non-immigrant status, and that the employment meets the regulatory criteria for on‑campus employment). You may only work 20 hours per week or less on-campus when school is in session, and cannot hold two paid on-campus positions at the same time. F-1 students are not eligible for federal work-study jobs.
Off‑campus employment is for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. Students are eligible for off-campus employment after they have been in F-1 status for one full academic year at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.
The Center for International Education must first recommend a student for off-campus employment on the Form I-20. The student must then file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with USCIS. If approved by USCIS, the student will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. The student may not begin employment until they have received an EAD. Similar to on-campus employment, the student may only be employed 20 hours per week when school is in session, unless eligible for an exemption under emergent circumstances as recognized by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of off-campus employment authorization which is granted through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of OPT is to allow you to gain real-world experience through a job that is directly related to your field of study (academic major). You are eligible for a maximum of 12 months of OPT and may be granted authorization while you study at HCC and/or after you’ve graduated. This program is available only to students that have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization which allows F-1 students to engage in off-campus employment directly related to their field of study. Per U.S. federal regulations, CPT must be an integral part of your curriculum or academic program. At HCC, this means you need to earn course credit for your employment. Employment on CPT may include internships (paid or unpaid), practicums, cooperative education or any other type of off-campus employment related to your major. This program is available only to students that have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year.
Visit us at the CIE at DSSC Room #322, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 813-253-7009 to learn more about any of these employment opportunities and how to apply.