CampusLife

International Student & Scholar Services

Questions?

  • Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
    202-885-3350
    Fax: 202-885-3354
    Butler Pavilion, Room 410

    ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m.

    Bakar, Senem S
    Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Mailing Address

F-1 Student Off-campus Employment

Before beginning any type of employment or internship, United States law requires you to obtain written authorization. Please know that working without authorization from either the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or our department is a serious violation of your F-1 status. If you have any questions, feel free to stop by our office or email isssemployment@american.edu. Our advisers in ISSS are more than happy to talk to you about your options.

Types of off-campus employment:

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option for F-1 students engaged in an academic program for whom work is considered an integral part of their studies. CPT authorization allows you to accept a one semester paid or unpaid internship in your field of study. You can be authorized for more than one semester of CPT, but each semester's internship must be a different curricular experience from previous internships.

Eligibility

  • Internship is part of academic program
  • Internship is registered for academic credit that count towards graduation requirements
  • Need to have an internship job offer
  • Have been enrolled in full-time degree program for at least 2 semesters (not including summer), and currently be in good academic standing in F-1 status

Hours Per Week

  • Part-time: 20 hours or less
  • Full-time: No limit*

Application process

  • Follow department procedure to register for credit bearing internship. ISSS will automatically be notified to process your CPT approval once you are registered for the internship. Do not begin your internship until after your CPT has been approved and you receive your new I-20 with employment authorization.
  • If you are registering for an independent study, dissertation research, practicum, SIS 0-credit option, WCL externship, or extension of internship dates you will need to:
    1. Follow department procedure to register for the appropriate class.
    2. Bring the completed CPT Departmental Verification Form and an employer letter that includes: name of employer, address of employment, number of hours/week, start and end dates, and contact information.
    3. ISSS will process your CPT authorization. Do not begin your internship until after your CPT has been approved and you receive your new I-20 with employment authorization.

Application processing time

  • Requires 3 - 5 business days for ISSS to process.

*Students granted one year of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) will be ineligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

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Optional Practical Training

Students are eligible for a total of 12 months Optional Practical Training.* OPT can be granted pre- or post-completion of program. Any time used in pre-completion OPT will be subtracted from the 12-month allocation for post-completion OPT. Part-time OPT will be subtracted as half-time. Students who use part of their OPT pre-completion and wish to use remaining time on post-complete OPT will need to submit a new post-completion OPT application and pay the application fee again.

Eligibility

  • Work must be related to field of study
  • Job offer not required
  • Have been enrolled in full-time degree program for at least 2 semesters (not including summer), and currently be in good academic standing in F-1 status

Hours Per Week

Pre-completion OPT
  • Up to 20 hours during academic year
  • No limit during vacation periods and after the completion of all course work for masters' and Ph.D students.
Post-completion
  • Full time only: at least 20 hours or more
  • No maximum limit

Application process

Application processing time

  • Requires 3 - 5 business days for ISSS to process, plus 2 - 3 months for USCIS to process

*STEM degree holders are eligible for a 17 month extension of OPT. All other students only become eligible to apply for an additional 12 months of OPT per higher level of degree completed.

Example: A student completes a Bachelor's degree and gets 12 months of OPT. S/He then completes a Master's degree and is eligible for a second round of 12 months on OPT because it is a higher degree level. The same student then completes a PhD and is eligible for a third round of 12 month OPT.

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Employment with an International Organization

Students who have received a job offer from a recognized International Organization on the approved list may apply for employment authorization at any time during their F-1 status (including their first semester and vacation periods).

Hours Per Week

  • No limit

Application process

  1. Bring the following documents to ISSS:
    • Completed I-765 form (Application for Employment Authorization)
    • Employment offer letter from the approved international organization, on letter head, including: job responsibilities and, begin and end date. Note: you will not be authorized to work until you receive your Employment Authorization Card, which often takes 2-3 months.
    • Passport with visa
    • Current I-94 record indicating F-1 status
    • Current I-20
  2. ISSS will notify you within 5 business days when your application is ready for you to pick-up with your new I-20 recommending employment authorization.
  3. You will then need to mail your complete application to USCIS within 30 days. A complete application includes:
    • $380 check, cashier's check or money order, payable to US Department of Homeland Security (verify fee in case of increases on the I-765 instructions)
    • I-765 form
    • New I-20 with employment recommendation from ISSS
    • Copy of photo identification page of passport with expiration date
    • Copy of most recent F-1 visa
    • Copy of current I-94 record
    • Two passport style photos
    • Employment letter from the international organization, with beginning & ending dates
    • Copies of previous employment authorization documents (if applicable)
    • (Optional) G-1145 E-Notification of Acceptance
  4. Send application by Certified Mail, Federal Express, UPS, or any service where you can track the delivery of the package to your local USCIS service center.

    *Print "INTL. ORG." at the bottom of the envelope*

Application processing time

  • Requires 3 - 5 business days for ISSS to process, plus 2 - 3 months for USCIS to process
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Severe Financial Hardship

Eligibility

  • Must have explored all other options for employment
  • Financial need must be unforeseen, due to a change in circumstances
  • Approval of ISSS office

Hours Per Week

  • Up to 20 hours during academic year
  • No limit during vacation periods

Application process

  • Speak to an ISSS advisor

Application processing time

  • Requires 3 - 5 business days for ISSS to process, plus 2 - 3 months for USCIS to process
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Disclaimer: The materials on this website have been prepared for general informational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel.