Employment options for international students are limited but available. F-1 and J-1 international students are eligible to work on-and off-campus with certain restrictions. Please familiarize yourself with the following information based on your visa type.
If you have any questions about your eligibility to work on- or off-campus, please consult your International Student and Scholar Services (ISS) advisor.
Please note: All off-campus work authorization requires prior approval from the ISS.
USCIS OPT Application Fee Increases on December 23, 2016. The filing fee for USCIS form I-765 will increase to $410 on December 23, 2016. Any OPT applications received by USCIS on or after December 23 will require the new fee. Read more about the new fee schedule on the USCIS Our Fees page.
F-1 On Campus
Non-immigrant students in F-1 status are eligible to work at the school they are attending and which issued them their SEVIS I-20 (F-1) form. On-campus employment includes all on campus jobs, assistantships and fellowships. In order for a student to be considered eligible for on-campus employment, s/he must be enrolled as a full-time student and must be in lawful F-1 student status.
You may apply for on-campus jobs by visiting the Office of Student Employment.
On-campus employment for F-1 students is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year i.e. when school is in session. This 20-hour limit per week includes all types of employment combined, both on-campus and off-campus. F-1 students who are maintaining their status are eligible to work full-time during holidays and annual vacation periods, provided they intend to register for the next academic session.
If you were to violate your status and continue working on-campus, you would be engaging in illegal employment and would potentially risk deportation. You would also jeopardize your eligibility for any future benefits from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as "practical training," "academic training" and/or adjustment to another non-immigrant status.
A student who has completed all requirements for her/his degree is no longer eligible for on-campus employment. Students in F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant status are NOT ELIGIBLE for any positions specifically held aside for students awarded aid under the federal work-study program.
F-1 Off Campus - Curricular Practical Training
What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
CPT is off-campus work authorization that may be obtained from ISS. It requires that you receive academic credit for the work experience for which you request authorization.
Applying for CPT
- Complete the CPT Application Guide & Tutorial. Detailed CPT application instructions are available by viewing the tutorial.
- Complete the CPT I-20 Request Form. You will complete the "Student Information" section and your academic advisor will complete the "Academic Recommendation" portion of the form. Submit the completed request to the ISS front desk. Please note: incomplete I-20 request forms may result in delayed processing times.
- Pick up your CPT I-20 from ISS before beginning your CPT employment. Your CPT I-20 will be available approximately 5-7 business days after you submit your I-20 request form.
Where can I get my questions answered?
- Review the CPT Application Guide & Tutorial. The application guide is designed to provide you with the information needed to complete your CPT request. ISS highly recommends that you begin by reviewing the entire tutorial.
- Still have more questions? Visit ISS during Walk-in Wednesdays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. or schedule an appointment with your ISS advisor by contacting the front desk at (312) 362-8376.
F-1 Off Campus - Optional Practical Training
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study" that may be obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a benefit of maintaining lawful F-1 status. OPT authorization allows F-1 students to gain work experience in their field of study. Eligible F-1 students earn 12 months of OPT at each academic level (i.e., bachelor's, master's, PhD).
Applying for OPT
- Complete the OPT Application Guide & Tutorial. Detailed OPT application instructions are available by viewing the tutorial. The tutorial is designed to assist you in completing your own OPT application. Contact your ISS advisor if you have questions.
- Complete the OPT I-20 Request Form. You will complete the "Student Information" section and your academic advisor will complete the "Academic Recommendation" portion of the form. Submit the completed request to the ISS front desk. Your OPT I-20 will be available approximately 5-7 business days after you submit your I-20 request form. Please note: incomplete I-20 request forms may result in delayed processing times.
- Compile and mail your application materials to USCIS. Carefully collect and review your application materials for accuracy. Make a copy of the complete application for your records. Follow instructions for mailing your OPT application.
J-1 Student On Campus
Non-immigrant students in J-1 status are eligible to work at the school they are attending. However, students must obtain written authorization from their program sponsor (the instituation that issued their SEVIS DS-2019) before they start working on campus. On-campus employment includes all jobs, assistantships and fellowships. In order for a student to be considered eligbile for on-campus employment they must be enrolled as a full-time student and must be in lawful J-1 status.
On campus employment for J-1 students is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the academic year i.e. when school is in session. This 20-hour limit per week includes all types of empoloyment combined, both on-campus and authorized off-campus. J-1 students who are maintaining their status are eligible to work full-time during holidays and annual vacation periods, provided they intend to register for the next academic session.
You can apply for on-campus jobs by visiting the Office of Student Employment
. J-1 students must recieve written permission from ISS prior to beginning any on-campus work
. You will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) which is used to report your wages.
If you were to finish your program early or violate your lawful J-1 status and continue working on-campus you would be engaging in unlawful employment and would risk long term immigration consequences. You would also jeapardize your eligiblity for any future benefits from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as academic training and/or adjustment to another non-immigrant status.
A student who has completed all requirements for their degree is no longer eligible for on-campus employment. Students in F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant status are NOT ELIGIBLE for any positions specifically held aside for students awarded aid under the federal work-study program.
J-1 Student Off Campus - Academic Training
As a J-1 student, you may work off-campus (other than at DePaul) ONLY if you have obtained special work permission from the ISS BEFORE beginning your work.
This is what you need to know about working off-campus:
- You need special work permission to work outside DePaul (off-campus).
- You may not begin work until you have received written permission from the ISS.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
- You must be in good academic standing and maintaining lawful J-1 status to be eligible for work authorization.
- You need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) which is used to report your wages.
Academic Training (AT)
The type of off-campus work authorization for which most J-1 students are eligible is known as Academic Training. Academic Training is available before and after completion of your program of study. If you stay within the specified time limits, you may work either part-time or full-time while classes are in session as well as during vacation periods. You must apply for and receive written authorization for Academic Training from the ISS before beginning employment.
For more information, please see the following handout: Academic Training for J-1 Students.
Quick Reference: Characteristics of CPT
- Preconditions: Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a DHS-approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT. Exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular training. Available only while student is in F-1 status, before completion of the educational objective. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for CPT.
- Location: Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location and period approved and recorded by the DSO in SEVIS.
- Duration: Depends on the specific period granted by the DSO. Granted based on dates corresponding to start/end of term. It can only be approved before completion of the academic objective (degree completion).
- Hours Per Week: Can be approved for part-time (20 hours or less) or full-time (over 20 hours).
- Field/level of Work: Must be an integral part of an established curriculum, in the student's course of study.
- Offer of Employment: Must have an offer of employment from an employer offering work that qualifies as curricular practical training.
- Effect on Other Work: Use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Traning (OPT). Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
- Approval Process: Must receive written authorization from DSO, who records authorization in SEVIS and issues SEVIS I-20 with notation, before work begins. USCIS approval is not required.
- Miscellaneous: Must continue to maintain a full course of study in F-1 status during the period of employment.
Severe Economic Hardship
Work permission based on unforeseen severe economic hardship is available to students who:
- Have maintained lawful F-1 or J-1 status for one academic year. (At DePaul University this is equivalent to at least three (3) consecutive quarters or two (2) semesters.)
- Are currently in good academic standing and can demonstrate that they have suffered an unforeseen change in their financial circumstances.
- Have found that on-campus work opportunities are not available or adequate.
For more information, schedule an appointment
with an ISS advisor.
STEM Extension OPT & Recent Updates
F-1 Students who received a U.S. Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) field may be eligible for an extension of post completion OPT. On March 11, 2016 the US Department of Homeland Security published a new STEM Final Rule, with an effective date of May 10, 2016. Contact your ISS advisor for more information.
OPT STEM EXTENSION RESOURCES:
NAFSA: Association of International Educators: A summary of the STEM final rule, current updates and resources can be found on the NAFSA website.
STEM OPT Hub:
Detailed information for students and employers can also be found on the DHS Study in the States OPT STEM Hub.
Applying for 24-month STEM Extension:
Please begin by reviewing the 24-Month STEM Extension Tutorial. Contact your ISS advisor for more information.