Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is limited, and working without permission is a violation of status and a deportable offense. F-1 and J-1 students may not work off campus without written permission from International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA). On-campus employment is permitted with certain restrictions. J-1 students must request permission for on-campus employment via iStart. A Social Security number is required for anyone receiving payment. ISSA can assist you with this process.

ISSA offers workshops every semester that explain the different types of off-campus work permission available to F-1 and J-1 students.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students who have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is temporary employment in their field of study for purposes of gaining practical experience.  Students are eligible for OPT at each higher degree level (i.e., Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD.)

Below please find an overview of the types of OPT available to F-1 students. 

The Four Types of OPT

  1. Post-Completion OPT is the most common type of OPT. It begins after the completion of a student’s degree program.
  2. Pre-Completion OPT is for work opportunities during the degree program for which CPT is not an option.  This can include summer (as long as the student will return for fall semester) or during the academic year.
  3. 24-Month STEM OPT is a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT for students who have completed a STEM field recognized by the Department of Homeland Security and who are working for employers enrolled in the eVerify program.
  4. Cap-Gap OPT is a short extension of OPT to cover the period between the end of OPT and the beginning of H1-B, for those who have a pending/approved H1-B Change of Status petition.

Note: Students who have completed 12 or more months of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT.  Part-time CPT or CPT which totals less than 12 months does not affect OPT.