Employment is any work performed or services provided including self-employment in exchange for money or other benefits or compensation.
It is imperative that you understand and comply with DHS restrictive employment regulations. The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously. You must obtain appropriate employment authorization prior to engaging in any type of employment.
F-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment which is limited to no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session and full-time (more than 20 hours/week) only during official school breaks (winter break, spring break, summer vacation). F-1 students do not need written authorization from ISSS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work on-campus, as long as you are in valid F-1 student status and pursuing a full course of study.
F-1 students authorized to engage in off-campus employment are eligible for two types of employment: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).
A summary of the options for off-campus employment for F-1 students is provided below. No matter which off-campus employment option you pursue, the following items apply for all applicants:
- Off-campus employment requires work authorization issued by the International Student Advisor.
- You must currently be in valid F-1 status.
- If you are an F-1 student, you must have been enrolled full-time as an F-1 student in the U.S. for a minimum of one academic year.
- In most cases, prior to the completion of your program, employment is limited to 20 hours/week or less while school is in session, but can be full-time during the vacation or break periods.
To volunteer, the position must be a legitimate, advertised volunteer position, and cannot receive any type of compensation.