The F-1 and J-1 visa are first and foremost student visas. Your primary objective while in the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 visa should always be your studies. That said, your F-1 or J-1 visa does carry employment benefits that allow you to work on-campus and gain practical training in your field of study. The links below outline what you need to know with regards to employment and the F-1 or J-1 visa.
International Student On-Campus Employment
There are a variety of benefits to working on-campus but it is important to understand the immigration regulations and campus policies surrounding on-campus employment for international students. International students in F-1 and J-1 status are eligible to accept on-campus employment provided they are meeting full-time enrollment requirements and otherwise maintaining status.
F-1 students can accept on-campus employment immediately and without any additional authorization from the Office of International Services.
J-1 EV Students must obtain authorization from their immigration sponsor prior to beginning on-campus employment. J-1 EV Students sponsored by LUC will work with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Office to obtain on-campus work authorization according to the information below.
Definition of on-campus employment
On-campus employment includes working as a teaching or research assistant, as well as student hourly jobs in administrative offices, residence halls, libraries, dining facilities, labs, recreational facilities, etc. On-campus employment can also include jobs with private companies that provide on-location services to LUC students. If you have any doubts about whether a job is considered on-campus employment, please reach out to an ISSS Advisor for confirmation prior to engaging in any work.
F-1 and J-1 international students can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and over 20 hours per week during official university breaks. These limits take into account all employment, including off-campus experiences authorized by F-1 curricular practical training (CPT) or J-1 academic training (AT). On-campus employment cannot continue beyond the end date listed on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.
Where to find on-campus jobs
Student Employment & Work Study Office
Student Employment & Work Study Office is the centralized service that assists LUC students in finding jobs. They should be your first stop when looking for on-campus, student-hourly positions. Utilize Handshake, their online portal to search on-campus job listings and apply. Note that Student Employment and Handshake may list jobs that you are not authorized to accept such as off-campus opportunities or positions requiring Federal Work Study.
Colleges, graduate programs, administrative offices, and research centers appoint graduate students as teaching (TA), research (RA), or graduate assistants (GA). Students apply for and obtain most assistantships through their graduate programs.
Tips for landing an on-campus job
- Don’t get discouraged – On-campus jobs and assistantships can be competitive, especially for first year students. Keep searching, keep applying, and keep networking. Your opportunity will appear.
- Utilize resources – Career Services can support you at all points of your job search including resume reviews, interview advice, and more.
- Be on time – Punctuality is valued in the U.S. Arrive a few minutes early to appointments and interviews to communicate your respect for the employer and your enthusiasm for the job.
- Follow up – After an interview, send a follow up email or note to thank the interviewer for the opportunity to learn more about the job and express your enthusiasm for the position.
- Work your network – Ask senior students how they landed their on-campus job and if they are aware of any open positions. Let your advisors, teachers, and staff members know that you are looking for an on-campus job and would appreciate any tips or referrals.
After you are hired
J-1 EV Student On-Campus Work Authorization
If you are a J-1 EV Student, you must report your on-campus job to your immigration sponsor and obtain authorization for the employment on your DS-2019 prior to your first day of work. If you are a J-1 EV Student sponsored by LUC, submit the On-Campus Employment Request in the ISSS Portal. If you are sponsored by a third-party organization such as IIE, please contact your sponsor directly to confirm your on-campus employment eligibility and the process to obtain authorization.
Employment eligibility verification
Once you are hired for an on-campus job, you will need to complete employment eligibility verification paperwork and other onboarding processes. If you are hired for an on-campus, student hourly position, this process will be managed by Student Employment. If you are offered an assistantship, the process will be managed by the academic department that hired you.
Social Security Number
If your new on-campus job is your first job in the U.S., you will be required to apply for a Social Security Number or SSN. International students must for have a job offer and then they can request an SSN letter from the ISSS Portal. Learn more about what an SSN is and how to apply on the Social Security Administration website.
Academic Training Eligibility
- Your primary purpose in the U.S. must continue to be study rather than employment (i.e. AT).
- You must be in good academic standing and maintaining J-1 EV Student status.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to the major field of study listed on your DS-2019.
- You must continue to maintain J-1 EV Student status throughout your period of AT, including applying for extensions when necessary.
- You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents during the authorized period of AT.
- AT may be authorized for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training. The length of the authorization must be approved in advance by both the academic advisor and ISSS. AT may not exceed the period of time it took to complete the academic program or 18 months, whichever is shorter. However, for those earning a PhD, post-doctoral AT may be authorized for up to 36 months. Please connect with an ISSS Advisor to discuss details.
- AT authorized for part-time employment still counts towards the 18 or 36-month limit.
- AT must begin within the 30-day grace period of the completion date.
Steps to request AT on your DS-2019
A successful AT authorization request involves you, your academic department, your training host (i.e. employer), and your immigration sponsor. J-1 EV Students sponsored by LUC will work with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Office according to the instructions below. If you are sponsored by a third-party organization, please consult with your sponsor regarding your eligibility for AT and the process to obtain authorization.
AT authorizations are ultimately granted by an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) and do not require an outside application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At LUC, ISSS advisors serve as AROs for J-1 EV Students. ISSS processing time for a complete and accurate AT authorization request is approximately three to five business days.
Working off-campus (paid or unpaid) prior to receiving appropriate authorization on your DS-2019 is a violation of status which can have a significant negative impact on your ability to continue studying in the U.S.
- Meet with your academic or career advisor to discuss the types of training experiences that could enhance or extend your program of study at LUC. The AT authorization requires that the training experience be related to your major of study. Your academic or career advisor can help you identify appropriate training or work experiences for someone in your major.
- Secure an offer from a training host and discuss a realistic start date. Under the advisement of your academic department or career center, interview for a training experience (internships, fieldwork, practicum, clinical rotation, post-graduation job, etc.) related to your major. While interviewing, you can explain that you are eligible to work in the U.S. under AT authorization (assuming you meet all eligibility requirements) and that the start and end dates of the training must align with AT requirements. You should allow yourself at minimum two weeks from receiving the offer to complete all necessary AT paperwork and obtain the final authorization on your DS-2019.
- Submit the Academic Training Request in the ISSS Portal. The AT request will ask you for details on your secured training experience including the location, proposed start and end date, and contact information for our training supervisor. It will also ask for information on the academic department representative who will confirm how the training experience connects to your major of study.
- Correct and resubmit your AT Request, if needed. AT is not a simple request and many students will need to make corrections based on the ISSS advisor’s feedback before receiving final authorization on their Form DS-2019. Please monitor your email closely and respond promptly to any communications you receive from ISSS.
- Collect and sign your new DS-2019. When the AT request is complete, ISSS will contact you with confirmation of your request and your new DS-2019 reflecting your authorized training location and dates will be available in the ISSS Portal under Documents. You may now begin your off-campus training experience, on or after the start date listed on your DS-2019.
Basic eligibility requirements for CPT
- You are in valid F-1 student status at the time of submitting the request.
- You have completed one full academic year in a degree-seeking program at LUC (unless it is a graduate program that requires immediate participation from all students in the program).
- You have secured an offer for training (internship, practicum, fieldwork, etc.) located off-campus in a position that is directly related to your major of study as listed on your Form I-20.
- You can demonstrate that the training experience is a required component of your program’s written curriculum and/or that you are earning academic credit for the experience during the term for which you are authorized for CPT.
- You are making normal progress toward completion of your degree and not participating in your program’s internship course in excess of what is required for graduation.
Steps to request CPT authorization on your I-20
A successful CPT authorization request involves you, your academic department, your training host (i.e. employer), and the Office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). CPT authorizations are ultimately granted by a Designated School Official (DSO) within ISSS and do not require an outside application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ISSS processing time for a complete and accurate CPT authorization request is approximately three to five business days.
Working off-campus (paid or unpaid) prior to receiving appropriate authorization on your I-20 is a violation of status which can have a significant negative impact on your ability to continue studying in the U.S.
- Meet with your academic advisor/program director to discuss your program’s requirement for a practical training experience. During this conversation, you should confirm whether your program requires a training experience (e.g. internship, practicum, fieldwork, clinical rotation, etc.) for graduation or if there is a course within the written curriculum for which academic credit can be earned for such an experience. If you and your advisor cannot identify an academic requirement for off-campus training within your program’s curriculum, unfortunately, CPT authorization may not be possible.
- Secure an offer from a training host and discuss a realistic start date. Under the advisement of your academic department or career center, interview for a training experience (internships, fieldwork, practicum, clinical rotation, etc.) related to your major. While interviewing, you can explain that you are eligible to work in the U.S. under CPT authorization (assuming you meet all eligibility requirements) and that the start and end dates of the training should fall within the academic term. You should allow yourself at minimum two weeks from receiving the offer to complete all necessary CPT paperwork and obtain the final authorization on your I-20.
- Submit the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request in the ISSS Portal. The request will ask you for details on your secured training experience including the location, proposed start and end date, and contact information for your training supervisor. It will also ask for information on the academic department representative who will confirm how the training experience connects to your program’s curriculum and the course for which you will register.
- Register for the corresponding course. You must register for the course identified by your academic advisor before the CPT authorization can be granted. The course must be taken during the same term as the CPT authorization.
- Correct and resubmit your CPT Request, if needed. CPT is not a simple request, and many students will need to make corrections based on the ISSS advisor’s feedback before receiving final authorization on their Form I-20. Please monitor your email closely and respond promptly to any communications you receive from ISSS.
- Collect and sign your new I-20. When the CPT request is complete, ISSS will upload the new I-20 with the CPT recommendation in the ISSS Portal and let you know that it is available under Documents. You may now begin your off-campus training experience, on or after the start date listed on your I-20.
- You are in valid F-1 status at the time of application.
- You have completed at minimum one academic year of full-time study in F-1 status.
- You intend to complete practical training (i.e. work) in a position directly related to the program of study listed on your I-20.
- You are physically present in the U.S. at the time of the application.
- You have not utilized one calendar year of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
- You are applying no more than 90 days before and no later than 60 days after your program completion date.
- You do not need a job offer in order to apply for post-completion OPT. Most students apply for post-completion OPT prior to receiving a job offer.
Step 1 – Attend an OPT Workshop hosted by ISSS
During this workshop, ISSS Advisors explain post-completion OPT in detail, including:
- Eligibility requirements
- How to identify your “program end date”
- Timeline for applying for post-completion OPT
- Application documents
- Next steps
We recommend that you attend an OPT Workshop sometime during your final two semesters of study. If after attending a workshop you have questions about your situation, feel free to make an appointment with an ISSS Advisor.
Step 2 – Submit the OPT Request and supporting documents in the ISSS Portal
During the OPT Workshop, you will receive detailed instructions on how to correctly complete the Optional Practical Training Request and supporting documents such as the USCIS Form I-765.
An important part of completing the OPT Request involves getting approval from your academic advisor or program director to determine your personal program completion date. Please be sure to put your academic advisor or program director contact information as the approver for the OPT Request in the ISSS Portal.
Step 3 – Receive your updated Form I-20 from ISSS
After you submit your OPT Request through the ISSS Portal, an ISSS advisor will confirm that your records are up to date and process the request. This includes adjusting your I-20 program end date to reflect the program completion date confirmed by your academic advisor, adding a recommendation for post-completion OPT. Note that your new I-20 program end date becomes your last day of on-campus employment eligibility.
Once your new Form I-20 has been issued, an ISSS advisor will email you with confirmation of approval and you will be able to access your new I-20 in the ISSS Portal under Documents. You must physically sign the Form I-20 for it to be valid.
Time: Please allow five business days for processing. Additional time may be required if your OPT Request is incomplete or if additional updates are needed on your ISSS or SEVIS records.
Step 4 – Prepare your USCIS OPT Application
USCIS accepts OPT Applications online or by mail. The documents you must include in your application will depend on which submission method you choose. You will receive detailed instructions on how to prepare your USCIS OPT Application in the materials you receive after participating in an OPT Workshop. If you like, you can make an appointment with an ISSS advisor to review your USCIS OPT Application prior to submitting it.
Time: It typically takes around five business days for students to collect and prepare all documents needed for the USCIS OPT Application. You may gather these documents while ISSS processes your OPT Request.
Step 5 – Submit your USCIS OPT Application
You can submit your USCIS OPT Application online via the USCIS website or by mail to one of their lockbox facilities. The submission method you choose will depend on your personal situation and the pros and cons of each are discussed during the OPT Workshop.
Whichever method you choose, make sure your application is complete, you have signed all documents, paid the USCIS filing fee in full, and retained a copy of the application for your records.
Lastly, your OPT Application must be received by USCIS within your application window which is no earlier than 90 days before the I-20 program end date and no later than 60 days after the I-20 program end date. In addition, the application must arrive no more than 30 days past the OPT I-20 recommendation date.
Time: The time it takes for your OPT application to reach USCIS depends largely on the submission method you choose. Online submission is the fastest with mailed submission taking one to three days for express shipping (e.g. FedEx or UPS) and approximately two weeks for regular mail via the U.S. Postal Services.