All international students on F-1 or J-1 status must receive prior authorization from the O.I.A. before beginning employment. Even unpaid employment must be authorized. Failure to receive proper authorization before starting work may result in severe immigration consequences. Request forms for work authorization can be printed from our Forms & Handouts page.
Practical Training for F‐1 Students
Practical training is a legal means by which F‐1 students can accept employment in areas related to their academic field of study. Students, in general, must have completed one academic year (approximately nine months) in F‐1 status and must maintain their F‐1 status to be eligible for practical training. There are two types of practical training:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized by the F-1 student’s Designated School Official (D.S.O.) at the student’s institution for any off-campus employment. All CPT must be related to the student’s curriculum. Authorization is indicated on Page 3 of the I‐20 and includes the name of the company, beginning and ending date and location of the employment. Since each institution has different policies related to curricular‐related employment, students should speak to the D.S.O. at the student’s institution. Processing time for the authorization of CPT varies at each institution and students are not permitted to begin working until they have received CPT authorization. International students on F‐1 visas are eligible for CPT before finishing their studies, as well as for 12 months of OPT. However, students who work full‐time on CPT for one year or more are not eligible for OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) must be authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) based on a recommendation from the DSO at the school which issued the I‐20 to the student. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each degree level. Students who have received OPT permission will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the U.S.C.I.S. The student name, photo and valid dates of employment are printed on the EAD. Employers should note that the average processing time for U.S.C.I.S. to issue the EAD is two or three months, and students may begin employment only after they receive the EAD indicating the start and end dates of employment.
Academic Training for J‐1 Students
International students on J‐1 visas are eligible for up to 18 months of work authorization, called Academic Training (AT). Postdoctoral students may apply for an additional 18 months of AT. Some J‐1 program participants are also allowed to work part‐time during the academic program. Students who have received AT permission will be issued a DS-2019 with the dates of authorization and employer’s name on the first page of the document.