International Students are legally allowed to work in certain jobs with pre-approval, depending on visa status. Click below for additional information.
International students in valid F-1 or J-1 status are permitted to work on-campus without any special authorization. Students can start on-campus employment as soon as they arrive on campus, complete the mandatory orientation program and begin classes.
- Students can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- Students can work up to 40 hours per week during official school breaks.
- Students may not work on-campus after their program is completed.
There are many different employment opportunities available on-campus for international students. You can browse the available on-campus positions via Handshake. You can also contact a campus program or academic department directly to ask if they are hiring student assistants. Visit our Career Services website for useful tips and resources on how to prepare a successful résumé and how to interview with employers in the U.S.
Social Security Numbers
Employers will require that you apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) before you may start working. Because it can take several weeks to receive your SSN, it is advisable to start the process immediately after receiving a job offer.
You must complete the following steps in order to receive a social security number:
- Secure an on-campus job and get your hiring department to complete the Employer Certification on this letter template.
- Make an appointment with your International Advisor and bring the letter signed by your hiring department. Your advisor will complete the DSO/ARO certification.
- Take this letter, along with your passport, F-1/J-1 visa, Form I-20/DS 2019, and most recent I-94 record (retrievable from i94.cbp.dhs.gov) to any Social Security Office. The closest office is 2099 Range Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (Building A).
You must have your SSN before you may receive wages for working on-campus, so be sure to apply as soon as possible after you receive an offer of employment, and bring the SSN application receipt to your employer as evidence.
Information for Employers
An F-1 / J-1 student may start work while the SSN application is being processed. Employers may reference Social Security Administration’s fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers which contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN.
It is not required that students receive their SSN before they start work. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires employers to report wages using an SSN. While you wait for your SSN, your employer can use a letter from us stating that you applied for a number. Your employer may use your immigration documents as proof of your authorization to work in the United States. Employers can find more information on the Internet at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/hiring.htm.
Employers may contact the Center for International Education for any questions or concerns. While we cannot answer questions about specific students, we are happy to give general guidance on hiring and working with international students.
Authorization for Practical Training
International students in F-1/J-1 status have the option of working off-campus by engaging in “practical training” during or after the academic program. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), and only one type of practical training available for J-1 exchange visitors: Academic Training (AT).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- CPT is only available to F-1 students.
- CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be an integral part of your program of study (i.e. you must be enrolled in an internship course).
- CPT is only available after completion of one year of academic study in F-1 status. EXCEPTION: Graduate students may be authorized for CPT during the first year of study if the program requires immediate participation in practical training.
- If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from doing OPT.
- You must apply for work authorization from your DSO.
- For more information on CPT, review the CPT Application Instructions.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- OPT is only available to F-1 students.
- OPT must relate to your major field of study.
- You are eligible to apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e. associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate).
- You must apply for work authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application fee is $410.
- Pre-completion OPT is limited to part-time while school is in session and full-time during official breaks.
- Post-completion OPT must be full-time (at least 20 hours per week).
- For more information on OPT, review the OPT Application Instructions.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension
- STEM OPT is only available to F-1 students.
- You may qualify for an additional 24 months of STEM OPT under the following circumstances:
- The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) program listed here.
- The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
- You have not previously received a 24-month extension of OPT.
- You must apply for the 24-month extension from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application fee is $410.
- You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 24-month extension petition is pending if you meet these conditions:
- You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
- You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.
- For more information, review the STEM OPT Application Instructions.
Academic Training (AT)
- AT is only available to J-1 students.
- AT must be directly related to your major field of study.
- AT is available both during (pre-completion) and after (post-completion) your program.
- Pre-completion AT allows you to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods.
- You must maintain adequate health insurance coverage throughout the period of AT.
- AT may not exceed 18 months, or the duration of your program, whichever is shorter.
- For more information about AT, review the AT Application Instructions.