Types of Employment for F-1 Degree-Seeking Students

checklist

On-Campus Employment

Off-Campus Employment

What is Practical Training and What Types of Practical Training Are There?

How Much Time Am I Allowed on Practical Training?

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for Practical Training?

What is the Process to Apply for Practical Training?

As an F-1 student you are eligible for two types of employment: on-campus & off-campus employment. The information below lists the requirements of both on-campus & off-campus employment.

On-Campus Employment

  • You are eligible to work on-campus as long as you are enrolled full-time in your program of study.
  • Immigration authorization is not required.
  • Application for employment is made directly with the hiring department.
  • The job does not need to be related to your program of study.
  • You may work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session and unlimited hours during official school breaks (winter, spring and summer break).
  • All students MUST meet with Ms. Lisa Eakins before they begin working. Make an appt. with Ms. Eakins by calling 910-962-2757. When meeting with her, students must bring with them: Social Security card, passport, I-94, I-20, local and foreign addresses and a voided check for direct deposit purposes. 

Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus employment for F-1 students is called “Practical Training". 

What is Practical Training and What Types of Practical Training Are There?

The term “Practical Training” designates two specific types of employment authorization which enable F1 students to hold employment outside their colleges or universities for the purpose of gaining experience or additional knowledge in their field of study. The two types are distinguished as “Optional Practical Training” (OPT) and “Curricular Practical Training” (CPT). 

  • Optional Practical Training is defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a practical work experience that is directly related to your field of study and commensurate with your level of study. It can be authorized in any combination of the following ways: (1) during official school vacation periods: full or part-time (2) while school is in session/student is still in course work phase: part-time only (3) while school is in session/student has completed all course work but prior to completion of a thesis, dissertation or the equivalent: full or part-time (4) after completion of all degree requirements: full time only.
  • Curricular Practical Training, as defined by USCIS, must be an “an integral part of an established curriculum.” As such, CPT is work experience which is required to complete one’s degree program and must offer credit that will count towards a student’s degree requirements. This may, but will not always, include internships, cooperative education programs, thesis research or independent study. Note: the distinction between “Optional Practical Training” and “Curricular Practical Training” is that the former enhances or enriches an academic experience, while the latter is required to meet the academic or curricular degree requirements. 

How Much Time Am I Allowed on Practical Training?

  • You are allowed a maximum of 12 months of full-time Optional Practical Training during or following each advancing degree level. Some students may be eligible for a 17-month extension beyond the 12 month period—speak with your international student adviser to see if you could be eligible. Part-time OPT accrues at a rate of 50%, e.g., 6 months of part-time OPT count as 3 months of the total of 12 months you are allowed.
  • There is no time limitation for Curricular Practical Training, but a student who participates in full-time CPT for 12 or more months is not eligible for OPT at the same degree level.
  • Note: USCIS defines “part- time” employment as 20 hours per week or less and “full-time” employment as anything over 20 hours per week.

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for Practical Training?

You are eligible for practical training if you:

  • have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year;
  • are in good academic standing;
  • are maintaining your legal status; that is:
    • your passport and I-20 are valid at all times;
    • you continuously pursue a full course of study;
    • you report all address changes within 10 days of moving;
    • you follow procedures for moving from one educational level to another (e.g., from Bachelor’s to Master's), and for transferring from one school to another, if applicable.

What is the Process to Apply for Practical Training? 

Overview Application
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Pre-Completion OPT
Post-Completion OPT
Stem OPT
OPT Employment Update
Cap-Gap Extension

OPT Checklist 

STEM Extension OPT Checklist