F-1 Employment Options

F-1 students are allowed to work in the U.S. with the proper authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are two types of employment available to you:

1. On-Campus Employment

F-1 students in good status are permitted to work on campus no more than 20 hours during the term or full time when school is not in session or during the annual vacation. Employment opportunities can be found on our website and at our on-campus vendors. On campus employment may begin no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes for students admitted for initial entry to begin a new program.

A student may not work on campus during the 60-day grace period following completion of a course of study, except in the following situations: employment authorized for OPT; employment between academic levels at the same school; employment between programs when transferring school; and concurrently-enrolled students.

On campus employment is "incident to status", meaning that as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status, on campus employment is allowed. If you fall out of status for any reason, your employment eligibility ends immediately.

2. Practical Training, OPT/CPT

Practical Training

F-1 students may engage in off-campus work with prior authorization from USCIS to gain practical experience in your field of study. There are two types of off-campus work authorization:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT), and
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): is an off-campus work authorization in your field of study. Once you have been in valid F-1 status for a minimum of one year, you may be eligible to participate in work based learning only if it is a part of your degree program. For more information, please visit http://www.cpcc.edu/workplacelearning.  Please visit the International Programs office for us to authorize CPT on your I-20 once you have registered for the WBL class.

Pre Completion Optional Practical Training (Pre-OPT) is a 12 month work authorization granted by USCIS to work part time, no more than 20 hours/week, in your field of study while you are still attending school full time prior to completing your degree. Time on Pre-OPT is deducted at half the rate from the 12 month total of OPT upon graduation.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): is a 12-month work authorization granted by USCIS to work in your field of study upon completion of your degree. OPT requires USCIS authorization, and the application can be found in our office.

Severe Economic Hardship Employment

F-1 students may be eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization based on severe economic hardship after being in valid F-1 status for one academic year. Prior to beginning employment you will need to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. As part of the application, you need to demonstrate that there is an unforeseen severe economic necessity beyond your control and that other employment opportunities are not available or insufficient. Please visit our office for details and application information.