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Reminders about Work Authorization

Many of our F-1 international students are applying for summer internships and post-graduation jobs which we know is an exciting but stressful process. To work off campus, whether an internship during your studies or a job after graduation, you must apply for authorization. We’ve put together a few reminders about work authorization and  your immigration status.

Internships, Trainings, and Off-campus Work Require Authorization

To work off campus during your studies, you likely need to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. This type of work authorization is tied to your major and coursework, so you should check with your academic department or advisor to determine if this is appropriate for academic plan. The good news is that ISS processes CPT rather than the government, so processing times are generally short.

Graduating Students Also Need Authorization

If you are graduating at the end of the spring quarter and want to stay in the U.S. to work, you can apply for Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is a 1-year employment authorization that allows you to work in your field of study after graduation. OPT must first be recommended by ISS and then approved by the U.S. government, so the process can take quite a while.

Plan for Processing Times

Both CPT and OPT must be processed by ISS. Our current processing times are about 3 weeks though this can fluctuate based on the time of the year and workload. CPT also requires the approval of your academic department, so give them a heads-up that you are applying and that they will need to provide information to ISS through an online form. OPT requires U.S. government approval which can take anywhere from 2-5 months. For both CPT and OPT, we encourage you to prepare and apply early!

Working without Authorization is an Immigration Violation

We know it can be stressful to wait for your CPT or OPT authorization to be approved, especially if you and your employer have agreed on a start date. You may think about just starting work even without your final approval. This is a violation of immigration rules and can result in the termination of your F-1 status. If you find yourself nervous about processing times conflicting with your intended start date, we encourage you to communicate this to your employer.