F1 visa does allow international students to work (under specific guidelines) while they are studying in the USA. Students with a valid F1 visa are allowed to work on-campus only. Students are able to:
- Work 20-hours per week during regular full-time semesters
- Work more than 20-hours per week between quarters semester
- Work more than 20-hours per week during school breaks (including winter and summer break)
On-campus work is typically available at the cafeteria, library, research labs, or admissions offices. In these instances, students are usually employees of the institution. Students can work in more than one job but they must comply with the hour restrictions.
Working Off-Campus With An F1 Visa
International students have two options for working off-campus. It’s important to note they must complete their first academic year before they are eligible for off-campus work. The options are:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT allows students to participate in off-campus training/work/internships outlined in their degree program. Some degree programs require students to complete an internship prior to graduation.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT provides students with the option to participate in an off-campus job or internship, given it is in their field of study. There is an option for OPT extensions for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Students who would like to apply for OPT will need an additional visa. Within the umbrella of OPT there are two options for students:
- Pre-Completion OPT: Students are limited to work 20-hours a week during their study and can work up to 40-hours a week when on their break. This is a great way for students to gain experience before graduating and entering the workforce.
- Post-Completion OPT: Students who opt-in to work after they graduate are allowed to remain in the USA for up to 12 months. The job they obtain must be within their field.
Temporary Non-Immigrant Workers
After graduation, students can apply to temporarily work in the USA. The prospective employer must file a non-immigrant petition on their behalf with USCIS. If students would like their spouse or children who qualify with them they will need to apply directly at a US consulate for a visa.