Student Employment for F-1 Students
To remain in status, it is extremely important that you follow the Federal regulations about employment. As an international student, you must contact your DSO/ARO in the office of International Programs to obtain work authorization before you accept employment. Never work without getting authorization from OIP first!
As international students, you are allowed to work on campus part-time while classes are in session and full time during vacation periods. It should be noted that on-campus work opportunities are limited.
Off Campus Employment
Off-campus employment is limited to three categories: CPT (Curricular Practical Training), OPT (Optional Practical Training). In very specific and limited circumstance, off-campus employment can be permitted for reasons of Economic Hardship.
Curricular Practical Training allows F-1 students to gain experience in their field of study prior to graduation. Most F-1 students who have been studying full time for a full academic year, 9 months (two full semesters) are eligible for CPT if:
- The employment experience is required by your degree program.
- The employment experience is related to your field of study and you will receive academic credit for it.
Review and complete, respectively, the frequently asked questions and application sheet for curricular practical training.
Please note: F-1 Students can use an unlimited amount of part-time Curricular Practical Training and still have 12 months of Optional Practical Training following completion of studies. However, if a student uses more than 12 months of full-time (over 20 hours/week) Curricular Practical Training, s/he will no longer be eligible for Optional Practical Training.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to gain experience in your field of study prior to or after graduation. Most F-1 students who have been studying full time for a full academic year, 9 months (two full semesters), are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT.
You may use OPT part time during the fall and/or spring semesters, part time or full time during vacations, or full time after graduation. You are limited to a total of 12 months while you are an F-1 student and for each degree program. Employment must be related to your field of study and at a level appropriate to it.
Complete the OPT materials submission sheet with Advisor’s Approval form for OPT.
NOTE: Due to lengthy processing time at the USCIS, we advise that you apply for practical training up to 90 days before you need it. The earliest date that you may apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training is 90 days before program completion and the latest is 60 days after program completion. Students may not begin employment on OPT until the receive approval and the EAD card start date is effective.
Also note that while on post-completion OPT, you still will be considered an F-1 student under the responsibility of the Office of International Programs. Winston-Salem State University is responsible for notifying SEVIS with any changes in your address, or if you terminate OPT, or begin a new program. You must remember to update us with these changes.
Off-campus employment for F-1 students is defined at 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(9)(ii)(A). Generally, it is employment that is for economic need and is not required to be related to the student's academic course of study. Off-campus employment is authorized only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring during a student's enrollment in an academic program or in emergent circumstances defined by Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Emergent circumstances are established when a world event impacts a group of non-immigrants and the Secretary of DHS publishes a special notice in the Federal Register to grant special relief to the group. Recommendation for severe economic hardship is granted on a case by case basis by the OISS.
- Student must have been enrolled full-time as an F-1 student for one continuous academic year.
- Student must maintain good academic standing.
- Student must have experienced an emergent circumstance as defined by DHS.
- Meet one or more of the following circumstances:
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that is not caused by the student.
- Large increases in tuition or living costs.
- Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses.
- Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for the student’s source(s) of financial support.
- Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance.
- Other substantial, unexpected expenses.
Please speak to the DSO in the Office of International Program if you feel you qualify for Economic Hardship off-campus work permission.