Students studying in the United States on an F-1 Student Visa often wonder about their right to obtain employment during their course of study. Most universities have a department specifically designed to assist international students during their time in the US. These departments may also provide useful information regarding an F-1 students’ right to work.
During one’s first academic year of studies on a student visa they may not work unless the job is an on-campus position. This includes work that is performed on school premises or an off campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school.
After the first academic year the student has the option to take advantage of Optional Practical Training, also known as OPT. OPT is work that is related to the students’ course of study and for the purpose of practical training. It may not be a job for the sole purpose of English language training.
There are two types of OPT – pre-completion and post-completion. Pre-completion OPT is work that takes places before the student has graduated from his degree program. This work may take place during vacation and times when classes are not in session, or during the academic year provided it does not exceed twenty hours per week. Post-completion OPT is work that takes place following graduation from one’s course of study.
There is a twelve month maximum allowance for OPT and time spent working in pre-completion OPT jobs count against that limit. Students are eligible to apply for post-completion OPT ninety days before their graduation date. It’s important to note that a student cannot accrue more than ninety days of unemployment during the OPT period or they may face being out-of-status.
For additional information on obtaining a student visa, or assistance with working while on an F-1 Visa please contact our office.