International Students in F-1 status are restricted as to when, where, and for how long they can be employed. It is important that international students make sure that they have the appropriate permission from USCIS prior to engaging in any sort of off-campus employment.

All of these categories require that you maintain valid F-1 status. If you are out of status, you are not eligible for this or any other F-1 benefit and violation of employment regulations can put a student “out of status” and ineligible for “reinstatement to status.”

If you are an employer, please review this resource on hiring international students.  In addition, there is an abundance of Employment Resources on the Study in the States webpage.

Each employment category has specific eligibility requirements. Please review these carefully and discuss them with a DSO.

  • Graduate Public Service Internship  GPSI offers experiential learning opportunities at state and local government agencies that enhance the development of ethical, competent, and engaged graduate students.
  • Graduate Assistant  GA positions are available in each of the campus’ 20 master’s degree programs, as well as in over 30 campus research and support units.
  • On-Campus Employment  In order to engage in on-campus employment, an international student in F-1 status must be “in-status” at the school having jurisdiction over the student’s I-20 and must be pursuing a full-course of study. Employment can be up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during vacation periods. Such employment is considered “incident to status” and no special application for work permission is required. Review more information on Student Employment at UIS and use the Career Development Center, a great resource for students which provides services such as resume critiquing, career counseling, interviewing tips, and more.
  • Curricular Practical Training  CPT is temporary employment that is directly related to a student’s major and integral to the established curriculum in the student’s course of study. Sometimes called internships, professional practicum or cooperative education, CPT must be for academic credit or required of all students in the particular major. Generally, CPT can be authorized by a DSO (immigration advisor) after a student has been enrolled full-time for one full academic year, unless it is required earlier of all students in a particular program. Certification from the employer and the academic department are required as part of the application process. Certain amounts of CPT may affect eligibility for OPT.
  • Optional Practical Training  OPT is a privilege provided by the US government to international students who desire to gain employment experience in their major field of study.  Applications include filing online with USCIS, a fee, and will take approximately three months to process. Types of OPT Authorization:
    • Pre-Completion: Part-time, prior to course completion, part-time or full-time after course completion but before completion of thesis or dissertation
    • Post-Completion: Full-time, following completion of studies
    • STEM Extension: Full-time, 24 month extension of a post completion OPT.  You must apply during your last 90 days of Post-completion OPT and work for an e-verify employer. Degree must be in qualifying major from the fields of Science, Engineering, Technology, or Mathematics.
  • Severe Economic Hardship  After an F-1 student has been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year (and theoretically has used the funding evidence used to obtain the I-20), a student may apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).The student must prove that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship that was unforeseen, beyond the student’s control, and arose after obtaining F-1 status. The EAD will last up to one year. Like on-campus employment, work is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during official vacation periods. The application includes filing online with USCIS, a fee, and takes approximately three months to process.

International Organizations

Special exceptions are made to the normal limits on student and exchange visitor employment for those who wish to work for international organizations recognized within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act. Most of these organizations do not offer job opportunities in our area.

If you should be offered employment at one of these organizations, please bring a written copy of your employment offer to the Office of International Student Services. We will assist you with your application for an Employment Authorization Document. You should not apply to change your status before consulting with ISS, nor should you begin employment before receiving your EAD.