Regulations for International Student Employment are very strict and must be followed at all times during your time studying in the U.S.
There are several types of legal work authorization available including on-campus employment and off-campus work authorization (including CPT and OPT).
We have created an Employment PPT to help you learn more about legal work authorization for international students in the U.S.
International students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week. On-campus employment does not require authorization from USCIS. Students that would like to apply for on-campus employment should visit the OCUWorks section of the OCU Career Services website for details about how to set up an account and apply for available student positions.
Several types of off-campus work permission are available: OPT (Optional Practical Training), CPT (Curricular Practical Training), and Economic Hardship.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is available in two forms: Pre-Completion and Post-Completion. Most students will choose to apply for Post-Completion OPT. Post-Completion OPT is available to all F-1 students who complete an academic program at a U.S. school. OPT is 12 months in duration. Students can apply for OPT up to 90 days before graduation and up to 60 days after. Students must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year prior to applying for OPT to be eligible. OPT requires reporting of your employer and personal details after graduation. Click here to download the OPT Reporting Form.
- Pre-Completion OPT: OPT taken before graduation. Full-time OPT taken prior to program completion deducts from the 12 months allowed for each degree level.
- Post-Completion OPT: OPT taken after graduation. Employment must pertain to the field of study. Download the OPT packet
- STEM OPT Extension: Students that complete a degree in an approved STEM field are eligible for an OPT Extension of 24 months. Must be filed during the initial 12 month Post-Completion OPT period. Download the STEM OPT Extension Packet
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is work authorization that is given to students who will be taking a required internship. The work must be an integral part of an established curriculum. Students may work part time (20 hours per week) during the main semesters or full time during vacation periods. Students must have been enrolled full-time for one academic year to be eligible for CPT. Please see the International Admissions Office for more information.
- Economic Hardship: Work authorization for economic hardship is designed to help students who have unforeseen financial problems during their studies. To apply, students must have been enrolled for one full academic year prior to applying. Students must demonstrate the evidence of severe economic hardship. Circumstances must be proved to be unforeseeable and unavoidable. Documentation of these circumstances must be provided. Students receiving scholarship may experience difficulty proving this.
Students who have received on-campus employment or authorized off-campus employment can take their I-20, I-94, EAD (if applicable) and passport to the Social Security office to apply for a Social Security card. Only those students who have been offered on-campus employment or who have authorized off-campus employment can apply for Social Security Numbers.
Students may be told that they need an SSN to apply for a bank account or cell phone. Please see the International Admissions Office as we can provide alternate documentation of your status.
Students with On-Campus employment will be given a form by Student Employment that can be taken to the SSN Office. The form should be signed by a DSO in the International Admissions Office.
*Note: Students who will work on campus for a contracted service company (Sodhexo, Follet Bookstore, Physical Plant) will need to obtain a letter on letterhead from that service company and then obtain a separate letter from International Admissions, signed by a DSO.
Take the letter, I-20, and passport to the Social Security office to apply. It should take 8-10 business days to receive your SSN.
Students with approved CPT should take their I-20 showing the CPT authorization to the SSN office along with their passport and I-94.
Students with approved OPT must wait until the OPT start date listed on their EAD card to apply for SSN. Students should bring the EAD card, I-20 with OPT recommendation, passport, and I-94 to apply for the SSN.