Achieving academic success is the first priority of International Students. After meeting that priority, it is highly recommended that students engage in out-of-class learning opportunities to further enrich their experiences. These opportunities may be located on-campus or off-campus. These opportunities may also come with or without compensation. As International Students holding F-1 or J-1 student status, some opportunities may require prior authorization from ISS office.
This page covers basic information about policies, procedures, and on-campus resources available to engage in the following practical experiences: On-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training and volunteering.
Overall Tips to Consider:
Put academics as the first priority! Some positions may even have a GPA requirement of 2.5 or higher. Earning some income may be attractive but remember to assess the learning opportunities of the position first!
It is the students’ responsibility to understand and act within F-1 or J-1 visa regulations. Do not engage in unauthorized work.
Plan ahead! Consider job hunting time, application deadlines, timeline for work authorization approval and more!
Use on-campus services, faculty advisors and classmates as resources.
Don’t get disappointed if turned down. Keep applying! The entire process will help you gain important skills in job hunting, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing and networking.
On-campus jobs allow students to gain practical experience, build professional networks and develop transferable skills. No prior authorization from International Student Services is necessary for F-1 international students to work on-campus. J-1 students must receive prior authorization from ISS in order to accept a job offer.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
International Students can participate in training that is directly related to their majors using OPT authorization. OPT authorization must be filed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services based on a recommendation from International Student Services. Approval takes approximately 3 months. Most students use OPT after graduation to engage in 12 months of full-time employment.
Social Security Number (SSN)
Applying for a SSN: A social security number is only issued to those who have a paid job offer on-campus or off-campus.
Already found an employer? Fill out the SSN Support Letter Request form. ISS will issue a support letter.
With an on-campus employer, get an Employment Offer Letter from Student Employment Office. With an off-campus employer, ask the employer to provide an offer letter.
Bring the ISS and employer letters, SSN application form, passport, I-94 print out and I-20 to Social Security Administration Office. More detailed instruction is available on the SSN Support Letter Request form.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
International Students can participate in training that is directly related to their majors using CPT authorization. CPT authorization must be approved by International Student Services. This opportunity is available for current F-1 students only. Most students use CPT to engage in positions that are paid and located off-campus.
STEM OPT Extension
A 24-month STEM OPT extension is available to international students who earned a qualifying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. As with regular OPT authorization, an application must be filed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services based on a recommendation from ISS. Students must be currently participating in regular post-completion OPT to be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension.
Basic Volunteer Rule:
International Students may accept volunteer positions on-campus or off-campus which meet the following conditions:
- Positions that provide no form of compensation.
- Positions that are normally held by volunteers.
Accepting volunteer opportunities on-campus or off-campus require no prior authorization from ISS. However, if there are any doubts, please consult with ISS before accepting opportunities.
The Center for Community Engagement and Service can introduce students to a number of volunteer opportunities! Visit CCES’s website to view position listings!