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Designated Ways You Can Work With Your Student Visa In United States


As a foreign student undergoing studies abroad, you may decide to engage in some jobs to help take care of your tuition fees, pay some bills, or gain some working experience before graduation.  But take care to abide by the working ethics of a student.

As an international student on a visa in the united states, you are not allowed to just go out and work in any place of your choice. Working illegally in the united states can cause a lot of troubles for you with the government. There are certain rules and regulations that you must follow if you decide to work as a foreign student while studying in the united states.

What You Must Do

As a foreign student within the united states, you are assigned a college official (DSO) whose job is to assist international students. Before you embark on any job hunt, it is wise you seek the advice of your designated school official. Your school DSO will guide you through the appropriate steps to follow and help you secure a Social Security Number that will enable you to apply for a job as a student.

Job Opportunities For International Students

As a foreigner undergoing studies in the united states, the DHS has listed four ways you can legally get gainfully employed in the country using the F1 (student) visa:

  1. On-Campus Employment
  2. Off-Campus Employment
  3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  4. Optional Practical Training (OPT)

On-campus employment

This is the most easily accessible type of employment for foreign students on the F1 visa. This type of employment enables you to work on the campus or at an off-campus organization that is affiliated with education. If you are to work in an educationally affiliated firm off-campus, then the firm must meet at least one of the following criteria according to the Department of Homeland Security:

  • Associated with the school's established curriculum
  • Affiliated to contractually-financed research projects at the post-graduate level

This sort of employment is the only category of employment you can actually apply for right from the beginning of your first academic year even before classes start. Places you can get employed as a foreign student on the varsity campus include the library, bookstore, dorm, or cafeteria. You may get to work in one of the off-campus research lab affiliated with your school.

You have the opportunity to work fulltime during vacation and holiday periods, but when school resumes your work hours are reduced to just 20 hours per week whether you work more than one on-campus job or not.

Off-campus employment

Off-campus jobs are mostly for international students that have completed a full school year and have a qualifying economic hardship or an emergent circumstance (that is, an unexpected financial circumstance that is beyond your control). The following qualifies as an economic hardship according to the DHS:

  • Loss of monetary aid or on-campus employment (if the scholar isn't at fault)
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • A substantial decrease within the relative value of currency the scholar depends upon to pay expenses
  • Unexpected changes within the financial conditions for a student's sources of monetary support
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance

Other substantial, unexpected expenses

Emergent circumstances, in this instance, are stated as world events that affect a particular group of F1 students and may cause severe economic hardship. It should be noted that this is not just limited to natural disasters, wars, and military conflicts, national and international crises.

Special Student Relief is a category of program that tends to limit certain regulatory requirements for college students from parts of the globe experiencing emergent circumstances.

Before applying for off-campus employment, you should get in touch with your DSO first. Your DSO is the first person to approve and recommend off-campus employment having reviewed the reason behind it. It is the first part of your off-campus application process. It is against legal regulations for you to start work while your application is still processed by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

You need to have completed one full school year for you to qualify for CPT, unless you are a foreign graduate student whose program requires immediate CPT. Nevertheless, always consult your DSO before going for CPT

This type of employment is more like an internship program and forms part of your school curriculum. It is crafted to help you achieve a better understanding of your discipline in the real world according to the DHS.

This category of employment can be full time without any weekly hour limit, not like other employment types. You can have more than one curricula practical training authorization at the same time.

It should be known that, that if you participate in a year or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Optional practical training (OPT)

This is a temporary training which is related to your course of study. Qualified students can be offered up to 12 months of OPT employment (for example, a student studying journalism can get a meaningful employment in a TV station)

Types of OPT

There are two distinct categories of OPT, pre-completion and post-completion OPT.

Pre-completion OPT: You get to work 20 hours per week when school is in session and full time when it is not. For you to be deemed suitable and qualified for this category, you must have completed one full school year at a U.S college or university.

Post-completion OPT: You can fully exercise this option only upon completion of your studies. Once authorized, you can work either on a full-time basis or a part-time basis.

Consult your DSO for approval during the application, he or she will be the one to endorse your application and help you submit it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

You should know that if you participate in both pre-completion and post-completion OPT, you've got a 12-month maximum work period which will be split between the two.

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