Yes! International students studying in the U.S. have opportunities to work, but there are different requirements and restrictions you should know about. It’s very important that you understand these rules. We’ve provided the following Q&A to help you understand the requirements for employment and the different opportunities available.
Q. When can F-1 Students start working?
A. F-1 students are not eligible to work off-campus during the first academic year, but they can work on-campus. When school is in session, you can work up to 20 hours per week. If you will be returning to school the following semester, you may also work on holidays and vacation periods.
Q. What qualifies as on-campus employment?
A. The work must be either at your school or at an affiliated off-campus location. This can be for an on-campus business, like bookstores or cafeterias, as long as it provides a service to students.
Q. How can F-1 students work off-campus?
A. Once you have been studying for one academic year, you may work off-campus. There are three options:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
Q. What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
A. CPT can be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education that is a part of your degree program or is a requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit. You can visit your International Student Office to authorize CPT.
Q. What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
A. OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Students can start the application process by speaking with the Designated School Official (DSO) at their school. Students can receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training.
Q. What is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)?
A. STEM degree holders may extend their OPT period. F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension.
Q. What insurance plans can F-1 students on OPT purchase?
A. F-1 OPT students with a valid I-20 can purchase any of our COMPASS, ISO Med or Voyager plans. If you have specific questions about benefits and plans, please contact our Customer Care representatives.