Loading
Photo Photo Photo
  Employment

As an F-1 student your options for employment are limited. F-1 students may work on-campus without authorization from USCIS. All employment off-campus requires employment authorization by the DSO or USCIS.

There are five categories of employment available to F-1 students:

On-Campus Employment

Full-time F-1 students who have maintained status are eligible to work on-campus part-time without authorization from USCIS. Student must work for Norfolk State University or for an on-campus entity that provides services for students. Work that is performed at an off-campus site that is educationally affiliated with the school (e.g. Virginia Beach Higher Education Center) is also considered "on-campus" employment.

Eligibility

Eligibility to engage in on-campus employment is "incident" to F-1 status, meaning all F-1 students who are maintaining status are eligible to pursue on-campus employment. Application Procedure No formal authorization from USCIS or the international student advisor (DSO) is required for on-campus employment, except in the case of on-campus employment over 20 hours per week for Special Student Relief.

In order to begin work, you must apply for a social security card and complete an I-9 work eligibility form. Your NSU ID card can serve as a "List B" document and your I-20 form and I-94 card can serve as "List C" documents. If your employer has questions about how to complete the I-9, please refer them to the OISSS.

Limitations

 - Employment must not displace a U.S. worker.

- Employment is restricted to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students may work full-time during official school breaks.

- Graduate students with teaching or research assistantships should be aware that these positions are considered "employment" and therefore are limited to 20 hours a week during the school year.

- Employment may begin no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes for new students with initial entry to a new program.

- Transfer students: employment can only be performed at the school that has access to the student's SEVIS record.

- On-Campus Employment Opportunities: Campus Bookstore, Dining Services, ACCESS Department ,Residence Life / Housing, Campus Police, Your Academic Department.

 

Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training

 F-1 students whose program of study includes a cooperative education experience, an internship, or other outside work component can apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Eligibility

- Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full year before being eligible for CPT. An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular practical training.

- CPT is available only while a student is in F-1 status, before program completion.

- Students in English language training programs are ineligible for CPT.

Requirements

- The employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum, i.e. required for program completion or credit-bearing. Some examples of qualifying employment include practicum, alternate work/study, internships, and cooperative education.

- The employment must be directly related to the student's field of study and commensurate with the his/her educational level.

Duration

- CPT may be granted in one-year increments. However, there is no limit on either the number of times a student may engage in either part or full-time CPT.

- Part-time training has no effect on Optional Practical Training (OPT); however, receiving 12 months of full-time CPT constitutes a forfeiture of OPT after graduation.

Application Procedures

- Make certain the employment meets the criteria above.

- Make certain all holds have been removed from your account and that required health insurance has been obtained for duration of training.

- Obtain a job offer and request a letter indicating job title, dates of employment, number of hours, and location of employment.

-  Complete Request for Practical Training Form.

- Register for the credit (if applicable).

- Bring completed form and copy of job offer letter to OISSS. OISSS will generate a new I-20 with the notation for CPT on page 3.

Limitations

- There is no limit to how much CPT you can receive-as long as it meets requirements. Training may be full or part-time.

- Part-time training has no effect on Optional Practical Training (OPT); however, receiving 12 months of full-time CPT constitutes a forfeiture of OPT after graduation. (Full-time CPT is any number exceeding 20 hours.)

- The earliest you may begin employment is the date on which your complete application (i.e. all forms submitted and holds removed) is received in the office.

- CPT terminates when you fail to comply with F-1 regulations or when you transfer and register for courses at another institution.

- Students who request a part-time CPT authorization must be registered for part-time classes.

- If you change internship employers or you will need to extend for an additional semester, the entire application process must be repeated.

- If, for whatever reason, you end your internship earlier that expected, you should notify the Office of International Student and Scholar Services by having an official letter sent from the company. This is especially important if your CPT is full-time.

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is defined as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study."

Eligibility and Job Requirements

  • Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full year before being eligible for OPT.  However, students may submit the application up to 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year, provided the employment will not begin until the completion of one academic year.  
  • Work done for OPT must be directly related to the student's major area of study and commensurate with the student's educational level.
  • Students do not need an offer of employment prior to applying for OPT.

Duration and Limitations

  • Students are allowed 12 months of OPT per academic level (Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, etc.)
  • Students may take OPT during summer vacations, before completing coursework, in the time period between completing coursework and finishing thesis or dissertation, or after receiving a degree.
  • Students with coursework remaining are limited to 20 hours per week of OPT while school is in session.
  • Students who  have completed all course requirements for a degree except for a thesis, dissertation, or equivalent, are eligible for full-time OPT while they make normal progress toward completing thesis requirement.
  • NOTE:  Any OPT taken before a degree is completed is counted against the 12 month total and reduces the time available after the degree is awarded.
  • You may not begin work until your EAD card is in hand.
  • Once you have submitted your application for OPT to the USCIS, the requested dates cannot be changed.

Post-Completion OPT

  • Students must apply for post-completion OPT before the end date on the I-20 form.
  • OPT taken after completion of the course of study will only be granted for full-time employment.  (Full-time employment equals any number of hours exceeding 20 hours per week.)
  • Post-completion OPT must be completed within a 14 month period following completion of study.
  • Transfer Students:  A student transferring to another institution may continue in OPT while in the transfer process, but must terminate employment upon registration at the transfer-in school.

Application Procedures:

  • Important!   Students should apply for OPT 2-3 months before graduation.
  • E-filing is not recommended for this petition.
  • Make certain all holds have been removed and that required health insurance has been obtained for duration of training.
  • Complete Request for Practical Training Form.
  • Locate and make photocopies of the following:
    • All prior I-20 forms issued
    • Passport
    • Front and back of I-94 card
    • All previously issued EAD cards
  • Complete USCIS Forms I-765 Request for Employment Authorization and I-538 Certification by a Designated School Official.  Item #16 on the Form I-765 should be marked with the code (c) (3) (i).
  • Obtain two immigration-style photos (passport photos).
  • Write a check or obtain a money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security.  Click here to  determine the current fee for I-765.
  • Bring all documents above to the Office of International Student & Scholar Services.  We will make the request for OPT through SEVIS,  generate a new Form I-20 with the notation on page 3, and mail the packet to the service center.
  • Important!  The Receipt Notice and  Employment Authorization Document will be mailed to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.  You will be notified by email when your notice and card arrive.  To check the status of your application, locate your Receipt Notice and click here.
 

Frequently Asked Questions about OPT:

What if my application is delayed?  When can I begin work?

Unfortunately, you may not begin work until you have your EAD card in hand.  On September 1, 2006, USCIS district offices stopped issuing interim employment authorization when OPT petition processing is delayed.


May I travel out of the country and reenter if my request for OPT is pending?

Yes, you may reenter the country to search for employment.  Take your Notice of Receipt with you when you  depart the U.S.


May I travel out of the country and reenter if I leave after OPT has been granted?

If your OPT has been approved and you depart before you get a job, then your OPT ends and you cannot reenter the U.S.

If your OPT has been approved and you have an offer of employment, you may travel and reenter to resume work for that employer.  Take your EAD card and a letter from your employer with you when you depart the U.S.


Must I notify the DSO of changes in address while on OPT?

Yes, you must continue to report changes in address to the DSO while engaged in post-completion practical training.

 

Employment authorized due to severe economic hardship

This employment benefit is granted to some students in conditions of extreme hardship where a financial need beyond the student's control arises.  The circumstances must have been unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school s/he is attending, and all other potential employment opportunities must have been pursued and proven to be insufficient.
 
Eligibility

- The student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year.

- The student must be able to prove that the employment is necessary due to  unforeseen, severe economic hardship beyond the student's control.

Some examples of unforeseen economic hardship include:

  • Loss of scholarship, assistantship, or on-campus employment
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support 
  • Student must be able to demonstrate that on-campus employment is unavailable and/or insufficient.

Application Procedures

  • Write a letter describing the unforeseen circumstances surrounding your hardship.
  • Gather supporting materials documenting the unforeseen nature of the hardship and the unavailability of other employment on campus.
  • Locate and make photocopies of the following:
    • Passport
    • Front and back of I-94 card
    • All previously issued EAD cards.
  • Complete USCIS Forms I-765 Request for Employment Authorization   Item #16 on the Form I-765 should be marked with the code (c) (3) (iii).  
  • Obtain two immigration-style photos (passport photos).
  • Write a check or obtain a money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security.  Click here to  determine the current fee for I-765.
  • Bring all documents above to the International Student Services.  We will make the request for Severe Economic Hardship Employment through SEVIS,  generate a new Form I-20 with the notation on page 3, and mail the packet to the service center.
  • Note:  EAD cards will not be mailed to a P.O. Box.

Duration and Limitations

- Approval is granted for one-year intervals.  Student must renew employment authorization on a yearly basis.

- Student may not begin employment until employment has been approved and EAD card is in hand.

- Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session.   Students may work fulll-time during vacations or holidays.

- Employment is not limited to work related to course of study- it can be for any employer.

- Authorization ends once EAD card expires, the student reaches the program completion date, or once the student transfers schools.

 

Special student relief program employment

Eligibility

Students who obtained F-1 status on or after June 10, 1998 and whose funding comes from one of the following countries are eligible for Special Student Relief: Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Duration and Limitations

- Student must be able to show that his/her financial support comes from one of the five countries above and that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship due to the economic circumstances of that country.

- Employment authorization is granted for one-year increments, or until expected date of program completion, whichever is shorter.  Authorization ends when a student transfers schools.

- Employment can be approved for full-time employment both on-campus and off-campus.

- Student can work for any employer.

- Students authorized to work under this provision may be allowed to register for less than a full course of study during the period of employment.

Application Procedures 

- On-campus authorization requires approval from the DSO.

- Off-campus authorization requires approval from USCIS.

Visit the International Student Services for complete application instructions for this category of employment.

 

Employment sponsored by International organizations

This F-1 employment benefit allows F-1 students to work for recognized international organizations within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669).

Eligibility

- Student is eligible as soon as s/he is in F-1 status and available only while student is in F-1 status, before completion of his/her educational objective.

- Student must have written offer of employment from a qualifying international organization.

Duration and Limitations

- Employment is granted by USCIS for one-year increments, or until expected date of employment completion, whichever is shorter.

- Employment can be approved for full-time; however, student must maintain a full course of study in F-1 status during period of employment.

- Employment must be with one of the qualifying organizations.  Currently, we know of no organizations with branches in the Hampton Roads area.

Application Procedures

- Obtain written certification from the international organization on the organization's letterhead that states the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization's sponsorship.
- Visit the Office of International Student & Scholar Services for complete application instructions for this category of employment.