A. Authorization for Employment and Training

  • What is defined as “Employment” or “Work” for international students?
    • 8 CFR 274a.1(f): “employee means an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration“
    • Remuneration means anything given to you for providing a service.  This might be a salary or wages, but it can also be room/board, travel expenses, meals or meal vouchers, textbooks, or other “real goods” for services.
    • ”Employment” or “work” can also mean activities which you should be paid for under the Fair Labor Standards Act, whether or not you actually do get paid.
  • Never work off campus unless you have current authorization from OGI, your J-1 Program Sponsor, and/or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Even one day of work without authorization is a serious violation of status. For on campus employment, verify that you are in valid status before accepting employment.

On-Campus Employment:

  • On campus work does not require additional authorization as long as you are an active F-1 student in valid nonimmigrant status. Visit the Student Employment Office online and create an EagleAXIS account to search for and apply for on campus employment.  Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for on-campus work designated as a “work study” opportunities.
  • On campus work is limited to 19 hours or less per week during academic terms and may be full-time during official school breaks and your authorized vacation term.
  • On campus employment must be with EWU or contractor that provides services on campus directly to EWU students. No construction or other activity that isn’t a direct benefit to and primarily for students is allowed.
  • Paid Employment requires a Social Security Number (contact OGI for letter of support) and I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification.  Most I-9 forms will require you to show your passport, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 information.  Your employer is not permitted to ask you for specific documents, so it’s a good idea to know what you need in advance.
  • Authorization ends immediately if you fall out of status or complete your studies. On campus work permission ends the last day of finals in your final quarter (grad students should discuss work authorization during thesis with OGI).
  • On campus Employment for J-1 students requires written permission of OGI or Program Sponsor.

Off-Campus Employment:

F-1 students require authorization on page 2 of the I-20 (page 3 of old format) or an EAD card from DHS for any off campus work or internship activities (paid or unpaid). J-1 students must have permission from their Program Sponsor to work off campus. All off campus authorization has a limit on the number of hours that can be worked in one week. There are firm beginning and end dates for all off campus work and permission must be renewed before resuming work.

  • F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) -- authorization by DSO required. In field of studies/major only.
    ​CPT is primarily used for paid or unpaid internships during your studies, student teaching, required practicum activities, or other training outside the classroom that entails more than simple observation.
    • Available after 1 continuous academic year in valid student status
    • Must be “integral” to your program of studies:either a requirement for your program or you are receiving course credit in your major that will count towards graduation requirements
    • Cumulative 12 months of full time CPT makes you ineligible for OPT at same level. 
    • To apply, submit all of the following information at least 2 weeks before beginning your internship activities. Note that information must be verified, so early submissions are encouraged.
      • CPT Request Form signed by your academic advisor & proof of enrollment in appropriate course/proof of program requirement,
      • Learning contract, if applicable,
      • Letter from employer on company letterhead stating job title, duties, number of hours/week, wage (if any), location, start and end dates, and supervisor’s name and contact information; and
      • Any other information documenting the academic nature of the proposed activity.
    • If your CPT activitiy is approved, a DSO willissue a new I-20 with CPT information, which is required before engaging in any training activities
    • Any changes require updtate authorization and I-20 in advance
  • F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) -- authorization from USCIS required. Need recommendation from DSO. In field of studies/major only.
    Optional Practical Training, while permitted during your studies, is primarially used after completion of studies (degree awarded) as a one-year employment opportunity in the U.S.
    • Available after 1 continuous academic year in F-1 Status.
    • Employment must be directly related to your major and appropriate to level of study.
    • No credits/enrollment required.
    • 12 month duration (pre-and post-completion, combined) per higher level of study.
      • One-time 17 month extension available for some STEM students. This may change in early 2016.
    • Apply for post-completion OPT before finishing program (no more than 90 days) or up to 60 days after. This may change in early 2016, requiring all applications to be prior to degre/program completion.
    • USCIS approval can take 3 months or more.
    • Fee required with application.
    • I-9 and Social Security Number required for paid employment.
    • Attend an OPT workshop and review the OPT packet from OGI.
      • OGI strongly recommends saving OPT for post-completion of studies.
  • F-1 Economic Hardship -- authorization from USCIS required. Need recommendation from DSO.
    ​Students who face serious and unforeeable economic problems, through no fault of their own may be eligible to apply to USCIS for employment based on economic hardship.
    • If approved, employment does not have to be related to your studies. 
    • In order to be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:
      • Have been in lawful F-1 student status and have been a full time student in good standing for at least one full academic year before applying.
      • Able to show USCIS that employment is necessary due to unforeseen and unforeseeable severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control
      • Application through USCIS requires a substantial fee and usually takes 3 months for approval. Must be renewed annualy, not availabe on program completion
  • J-1 Academic Training (AT) -- authorization by an Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) required.
    • Requires good acadmic standing
    • Not available for all J-1 Programs, contact your OGI advisor or program sponsor for information
    • Requires a job/internship offer directly related to your field of studies
    • Must be approved in advance by OGI or J-1 Program Sponsor, academic program advisor, and academic department.
    • Duration – same length of time you are a student in J-1 status (up to 18 months).
    • Start date can be anytime during your studies or up to 30 days afterwards (if approved prior to completion of studies).

ELI Students:

ELI Students are not authorized for any employment, on or off campus