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Employment for F-1 Students

These pages provides a summary of the various kinds of work authorization available to F-1 international students in the United States. For additional details on the conditions of and applying for CPT or OPT, please use the links to the right. To determine whether you are eligible to work in any of these categories, and for application procedures, consult your International Student Advisor. Do not assume that you are eligible to work without contacting the International Advisor.

Eligibility. To be eligible for any kind of F-1 employment, you must be in good academic standing at Muskingum, and be maintaining valid F-1 status. That means, among other things, that you must be registered full-time each semester, and must continue to make progress in your program of study. If you have questions about maintaining valid F-1 status, please make an appointment with Meri Linn.

Caution! Employment without proper authorization is a violation of your status, and can lead to serious consequences. Before you start any kind of employment off campus, you should first consult an International Advisor.


Employment –"Employment" is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, or any other benefit. Volunteer work for no pay or other compensation MAY BE considered employment, and requires authorization if the work performed is ordinarily salaried. Babysitting, yard-work, or other causal work done for pay or other benefits is considered employment for immigration purposes.

Part-time – "Part-time" means up to 20 hours per week,

Full-time – is working more than 20 hours per week.

EAD (Employment Authorization Document , Form I-765) – For some types of employment, authorization must come from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In those cases, you can work only during the period authorized, and only after you receive an EAD, a small card laminated in plastic with your photograph, listing the beginning and ending dates of your employment authorization. The EAD is available only through submitting an I-765 by mail. The fee, at the time of publication is $410 (check for current fees at, and we recommend that you allow two to four months (60-120 days) for USCIS processing.

Types of Work Authorization

On-Campus Employment

No formal application is required. To safeguard your F-1 status, you should make sure that (1) you remain a full-time student, meaning that you are registered full-time each semester and continue to make progress in your program of study, and (2) your on-campus employment does not exceed 20 hours per week (except during summer and winter breaks, when it may be full-time). On campus work generally fits into the following three categories:

  1. Employment by Your School – On campus work performed for your school is always acceptable whether it is employment in your academic department, the library, computer center, or residence halls. Work required by a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship is also acceptable.
  2. Other Employment on Your School’s Premises – Work performed on your school’s grounds or premises for an outside contractor or firm is considered to be on-campus employment as long as the employer provides direct services to students. Examples of this might be Aramark/Classic Fare Catering. Construction companies do NOT qualify! If you believe a specific employer would qualify under this provision, please contact the your International Advisor, and plan to document the qualification for your immigration file.
  3. Work Off Campus Which Qualifies as On-Campus Employment – Some types of off-campus work are defined by USCIS as “on-campus employment.” There must be an official relationship between your school and the off-campus employer, the work must be associated with your school’s curriculum or related to a graduate-level research project, and the employment must be an integral part of your program of study. Currently there are no programs which would qualify at Muskingum under this provision. Please contact your International Advisor if you think you have an offer which would qualify.

If you are concerned about the appropriateness of any employment, your Immigration Advisor will be happy to offer advice.

Off-Campus Employment


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – Available to F-1 students who have been registered full-time for at least one academic year (9 months or two semesters), and are maintaining a status that permits full-time study. To qualify as Curricular Practical Training, the employment must be required --either for everyone in your degree program or else for a particular course. One cumulative year of full-time curricular practical training will make you ineligible for Optional Practical Training (see below). You must: have the approval of your academic advisor; be enrolled for internship credit; have a job offer relating to your field of study; get authorization from a DSO (Designated School Official), and have an I-20 endorsed for CPT in order to start working in CPT. You may only work for the period authorized on your I-20. Please see your Immigration Advisor to apply for CPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT). Available to F-1 students who have been registered full-time during the previous two semesters; have not been authorized for 12 months or more of full time CPT during the current educational level; and are in a status that permits full-time study. The employment must be directly related to your major and appropriate to the level of your program of study, and may last for a total of 12 months, ending no later than 14 months after the final date of your program. Part-time OPT (up to 20 hours per week) counts at one-half the full-time rate against your 12-month eligibility. You may apply to participate in full or part-time Optional Practical Training after completion of your program. (You must apply prior to the date you complete your program of studies.)

OPT packets are available from your Immigration Advisor. Apply with recommendation from your Immigration Advisor to USCIS for authorization. EAD required.

Off-Campus Employment Based On Severe Economic Hardship. Available only after a full academic year in F-1 status. Work may be part-time (up to 20 hours per week) while classes are in session or full-time during winter and summer breaks. On campus employment opportunities must be unavailable or otherwise insufficient. You must demonstrate and document "severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond [your] control." Acceptable circumstances include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment, as long as the loss was not your fault; substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or the exchange rate; inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs; medical bills; and unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support. Apply to the Immigration Advisor for a formal recommendation, and to USCIS for authorization. EAD required.

Internship With An International Organization. If a "recognized" international organization, such as the United Nations or the World Bank, offers you an internship, you must apply to USCIS for permission to accept it. This is usually full-time employment that occurs during the summer or other vacation period. However, the list of recognized organizations is very limited – this cannot be merely a company which conducts business on an international level. Apply to the Immigration Advisor on campus for a formal recommendation, and to USCIS for authorization. EAD required.