Employment for F-1 Students
Students holding F-1 student visas are allowed to work on the Fisk
University campus. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week
while school is in session and can be a full-time (40 hours) during the
vacation periods. No special immigration permission is required for
Student jobs are often listed in Academic Departments, the Financial Aid Office and the Career Center.
To work off-campus, F-1 students must receive authorization from
Designated School Official, and/ or United State Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to the beginning of employment. A
student may be authorized for off campus employment under the following
- Severe, unforeseen economic necessity
- Internship with an International Organization
- Employment based on the Special Student Relief program
Off-campus employment must be recommended in the Student and
Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) by the Designated School
Official, and adjudicated and approved by USCIS, which issues an
Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card evidencing the employment
authorization. A student cannot begin the off-campus employment
until he or she receives the authorization from Designated School
Official (DSO), and or from USCIS.
Below is an overview of different employment options.
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Defined as alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or
any other type of required internship or practicum, which is offered by
sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the
school. CPT requires approval from IEEEC prior to the beginning date of
- Student must have been in lawful, full-time status for nine consecutive months
- Training must be an integral part of a program of study
- Job offer is required to apply for CPT
- Student can begin employment only after the approval from IEEEC (CPT endorsement on the I-20 form)
- Work authorization can only be given for one semester at a time
- Each subsequent semester, the student will need to re-apply
- Student must be in good academic standing at the time of
application and must maintain good academic standing during the
- Obtain an offer letter (See Employer Information )
- Complete CPT Application Form
- Obtain appropriate academic advisor signature and course information as described in the CPT Application
- Submit completed CPT Application and letter of job offer to IEEEC
at least two weeks prior to your CPT start date for authorization
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for Students in F-1 Status
Optional Practical Training allows F-1 students to obtain employment in areas related to their academic major. OPT is available at each higher degree level. (Note: if you have used more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training, you cannot apply for OPT.)
Although a job offer is not required in order for OPT to be granted, the proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study and it must be appropriate to your level of education. OPT may occur anywhere in the United States. F-1 students who have been in lawful status for one full academic year may engage in OPT during any of the following times during their course of study:
- Annual Vacation Times;
- Part-time (up to 20 hours per week), while school is in session;
- After completion of all course requirements, excluding thesis or equivalent;
- After completion of studies;
is OPT authorized to be worked before the student's program end date. Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students who are eligible to register for the next term, and who plan to do so, may have approval to work full time when school is not in session.
Post-completion OPT is authorized OPT that is performed after the student's program end of date.
Provisions applicable to all F-1 students eligible for OPT
This rule established two new provisions that apply to all F-1 students eligible for post-completion OPT.
- Extends the period in which a student may apply for post-completion OPT to 60 days after the student's program end date.
- Establishes a limit on the number of days students in a period of post-completion OPT can be unemployed and still maintain F-1 status. For students on a regular post-completion OPT or an automatic extension due to the cap gap provisions, the limit is 90 days. Students with an approved STEM OPT extension will receive another 30 days of unemployment time for a total of 120 days over the period of post-completion OPT.
Provisions applicable to F-1 students with a STEM degree
This rule allows F-1 students who are on a post-completion OPT approved after earning a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math program that is on the list of designated STEM degrees to apply for a 17-month extension of their post-completion OPT.
Employment Based on Economic Hardship
Designed to provide students with an opportunity to work off-campus
when other employment opportunities are not available (i.e., on-campus
employment) according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). F-1
students are eligible for off-campus work authorization in cases where
the need to work is caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the
- Student must have been in lawful, full-time status for one full academic year.
- Student must be in good academic standing.
- Student must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with their carrying a full course of study.
- Student must demonstrate that he/she has made a good effort to locate on-campus employment.
- Student must provide verification of economic hardship such as:
loss of sponsor's financial assistance or loss of on-campus employment
without fault of the student; substantial fluctuations in the value of
currency or exchange rate; inordinate increases in tuition and/or
living costs; and unexpected changes in the financial condition of the
student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and