F-1 Employment

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Following employment regulations is a crucial aspect to maintaining your F-1 visa. If you engage in unauthorized work, you will violate your status which will result in termination of your visa as a F-1 student. Before you begin any employment, please make sure that you are within the restrictions of your visa status. If you have any questions, please contact the International Office before the start of your employment.

Employment is defined as any service or labor performed in exchange money or other benefits such as tuition, room and board, books, etc. If you do not receive payment or benefits from the work, then it is considered a volunteer position which does not require authorization.

Types of Employment

On Campus

F-1 students are permitted to work in various departments on campus while attending school and maintaining their F-1 status. This work is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session, and full-time during official breaks (summer, Christmas, spring breaks). For a listing of on campus employment opportunities, please refer to the career center website.

Off Campus

As an F-1 student, you are not permitted off-campus without obtaining a written authorization from the International Office or the USCIS.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows students up to 12 months of full-time employment that is relevant to their program of study for each academic level.

  • Students can apply for Pre-completion OPT (before the completion of your studies) or Post-completion OPT (after the completion of your studies)
  • Students must apply for OPT at least 90 days before the date of completion of their studies and before the end of their 60 day grace period
  • Students do not need a job offer to apply for an OPT
  • To apply for OPT, complete and submit the OPT Application to the International Office

Download the OPT Information & Application packet


Economic Hardship

Students who experience severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control may be authorized for off-campus employment. Some examples of economic hardship include:

  • Loss of financial aid
  • Substantial currency or exchange rate fluctuations
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected change in the financial condition of your source of support
  • Medical bills

Students may apply for off-campus employment if they meet the following conditions:

  • Must be F-1 status for one full academic year (9 consecutive months)
  • Must have good academic standing and be able to demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not affect full-time study
  • Must demonstrate that on-campus employment opportunities are insufficient or unavailable
  • Must demonstrate that the off-campus employment is necessary to avoid hardship due to the circumstances out of the student’s control

Off-campus employment may be:

  • 20 hours per week during the school year
  • Full-time during breaks (summer, Christmas, spring breaks)
  • One-year authorization
  • Renewable up until the completion of their program of study
  • Terminated if the student fails to maintain their F-1 status or transfers from Cairn

To apply for off-campus employment, schedule a meeting with the International Advisor before completing the application for economic hardship.