Overview of Off-Campus Employment for F-1 Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT)  

  • Must be in F-1 status academic year (2 semesters) usually nine months before authorization can be granted
  • Work must be directly related to major
  • Limited to 12 months of full-time employment
  • Can be part time (up to 20 hours per week) or full time, but each requires a separate application
  • Can only be part time during academic semester (and must remain enrolled full time)
  • Can be part time or full time during official school breaks
  • Can be part time or full time once required course work is finished for Masters while working on thesis, dissertation or equivalent
  • Can only be full time after completion of degree
  • If used part-time, time is deducted at half the full-time rate (i.e. four months part time = 2 months full time)
  • Does not require a job offer to apply
  • Application is made to USCIS in Lincoln, NE (after receiving recommendation from IPSO DSO)
  • Processing time varies; 2-4 months usually
  • $175 application fee

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • Must be in F-1 status one academic year (usually nine consecutive months) before authorization can be granted
  • Work must be an integral part of program and directly related to major
  • Pre-completion of degree only
  • Academic credit MUST be received for the employment experience
  • Employment usually cannot extend beyond the end of the academic term for which credit is received
  • Must remain enrolled full time
  • Can be part time (up to 20 hours per week) or full time
  • No time limit; however, if used 12 months full-time, optional practical training is forfeited
  • Employment is employer specific
  • Application is made to IPSO 118 Whitesitt Hall
  • Processing usually takes 30-45 minutes; however, it is preferred you apply at least 1-2 weeks in advance
  • No application fee

Severe Economic Hardship (SEH)

  • Must be in F-1 status one academic year (usually nine consecutive months) before authorization can be granted
  • Must be able to demonstrate severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances (show money on I-20 is not available for reason's beyond student's control)
  • Is granted one year maximum at a time; can apply to extend
  • Can work any where in U.S., but restricted to 20 hours per week while school is in session
  • Application is made to USCIS in Lincoln, NE
  • $175 application fee
  • Processing time varies; 2-4 months usually
  • For more information, read the SHE Instructions online.