As an F-1 student, you are eligible to work on campus up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. You may work full-time during breaks.
To work off campus, you must apply for curricular practical training (CPT) or optional practical training (OPT). Compensation for off-campus work must be through CPT or OPT.
Curricular Practical Training
The U.S. government will allow you to participate in paid off-campus employment (internship) to gain professional training prior to the completion of your academic program, if the employment is considered an integral component of your coursework. This type of employment is called curricular practical training (CPT).
To be eligible to apply for CPT, you must be in lawful F-1 status for one academic year. It may be authorized for full-time (21 or more hours per week) or part-time (not exceeding 20 hours per week) employment during academic year or summer vacations.
Before we can authorize CPT, you must provide:
- Completed and signed application from the internship coordinator in your academic department
- Registration for internship credits
- Job offer letter
Formal authorization is not required for you to participate in non-paid internships. While engaged in CPT, you will be expected to maintain a full course load when classes are in session.
If you engage in more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you lose all eligibility for optional practical training (OPT) at that degree level.
CPT Application Procedures
The CPT application is available for download, and also can be obtained from your internship coordinator or the CISS. To complete your application, you must:
- Verify the internship application procedures with your major department’s internship coordinator.
- Find an appropriate employment experience. You will need a detailed job description to submit to your academic department's internship coordinator with your CPT application.
- Complete the department approval process. Undergraduate students should use the Academic Internship Program Registration/Acceptance Form. Graduate students should use the Application for All Graduate Credit-Bearing Internships.
- Submit your completed application and job offer letter to the CISS. Allow at least one week for processing.
When you come for your appointment, please bring with you a:
- Completed and signed application for CPT
- Copy of your Academic Internship Program Registration/Acceptance Form (undergraduate students) or Application for All Graduate Credit-Bearing Internships (graduate students)
- Copy of the offer letter listing the name and address of the employer
Your registration for the internship course must be reflected in Banner prior to receiving CISS authorization. Our front office staff will review your paperwork with you and answer any questions you might have.
If granted, your CPT authorization will be entered into SEVIS. You will then receive a new SEVIS I-20 with the authorization dates and employer information. You will not receive an employment authorization document.
Optional Practical Training
Through optional practical training (OPT), the U.S. government allows you to work off-campus (in the United States) to gain professional training before and after you have finished your academic program. The employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
To be eligible for OPT, you must be in lawful F-1 student status for one academic year. It may be authorized for full-time (21 or more hours per week) during summer and winter and spring break vacations, or part-time (not exceeding 20 hours per week). You are not eligible for OPT if you have already used 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT) at the same degree level.
While participating in pre-completion OPT, you will be expected to maintain a full course load when classes are in session.
OPT Application Procedures
To request OPT employment authorization, you will need to submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Processing time is approximately 12 weeks. OPT application materials are:
- OPT Acknowledgement Form
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application Receipt
You also may obtain materials from our office during business hours.
Please refer to the following resources to assist you in completing your OPT application:
- OPT application checklist, instructions and FAQs
- OPT application tutorial
- Form I-765 Instructions
- Color Photo Specification Sheet
When you have all of the required documents and photocopies, you may bring the completed application package to our office, where a staff member will ensure that it is complete. No appointment is necessary.
Your application will then be assigned to a staff member. Please allow at least five business days for processing. We will email you when the application is ready to pick up and mail to the USCIS.
For post-completion OPT, you may apply up to 90 days before or 60 days after completion of your degree requirements.
Employment Authorization Document
USCIS will send your employment authorization document (EAD) to the address specified on your application. The EAD certifies that you have authorization to work in the United States in your major field of study.
You may only begin working upon receipt of the EAD and on the start date specified on your card. You may not begin employment before that time.
We recommend that you make a copy of the EAD to keep along with any correspondence you received from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you lose your EAD, you must contact USCIS for a replacement document.
Travel and Reentry
You may travel outside the United States while engaging in OPT. To do so, you must have:
- Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
- I-20 with a recent signature (within six months) from a CISS international student adviser
- Unexpired EAD
- A letter from your employer verifying your employment status.
As stated in the OPT Acknowledgement Agreement, you must notify us within 10 days of a change of address or employment start or stop. For new employment, please email us:
- Employer name, address and telephone number
- Position title and start date
Please refer to your OPT Acknowledgement Form for all details related to maintaining your F-1 status while in OPT.
Employment Under Cap-Gap
Current regulations allow students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to apply for an I-20 Cap-Gap Extension that will allow them to continue working until the H-1B start date on October 1.
J-1 exchange visitor students may engage in paid off-campus employment in the United States to gain professional training before and after completion of their academic program if the employment is directly related to their coursework. This type of employment is called academic training.
To participate in academic training, you must:
- Be in good academic status before applying
- Obtain advance, written authorization from the Cronin Office of International Education for academic training for wages or other remuneration
- Begin academic training no later than 30 days following the completion of your studies
- Obtain formal authorization for non-paid internships
As a J-1 exchange visitor sponsored by Bentley, you may receive academic training for the amount of time equal to your time enrolled at the university (18-month maximum). One-semester exchange students are eligible for four months of academic training, and one-year exchange students are eligible for nine to 12 months.
Academic Training Application Procedures
To complete your academic training application, you must:
1. Obtain a letter of recommendation from your academic adviser from the Cronin Office of International Education. The letter must include:
- The goals and objectives of the specific employment opportunity
- A description of the employment opportunity, including its location, the name and address of the supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training
- How the training relates to your major field of study
- Why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program
2. Call us to schedule an appointment with a staff member. Be sure to bring to your appointment the recommendation letter and the employment offer letter.
We will provide you with written authorization for the proposed academic training upon review and approval from the Cronin Office of International Education.
Employment for Severe Economic Hardship
You may be eligible for general off-campus employment authorization if you are facing severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, such as substantial currency fluctuations, medical bills, and substantial or unexpected expenses.
Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. You may work up to 40 hours per week during annual breaks (summer, winter, and spring).
Requests for this type of employment authorization must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We will assist you in submitting the application. Please review the following information carefully.
- You are in good academic standing and are maintaining a full course of study.
- You can demonstrate unforeseen economic hardship.
- You cannot find an on-campus job or practical training opportunity that meets your financial need.
- You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year.
- Your employment will not interfere with your studies.
- Compose a letter for the USCIS in which you describe the nature of your unforeseen economic hardship.
- Attach supporting documentation to your letter, such as news articles, letters from sponsors, and documents from financial institutions.
- Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Have two green card-style photos made according to the photo guidelines
- Schedule an appointment with a CISS adviser, who will review your application and enter your employment request into SEVIS. You will be provided with a new SEVIS I-20 for submission with your application.
- When you come for your appointment, please bring with you:
- Letter for the USCIS
- Passport, original Bentley I-20 (plus all previous I-20s issued to you from Bentley or other institutions you have attended), and I-94 admission/departure card printed from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website
- I-765 form
- Personal check in the amount of $380 and made payable to Department of Homeland Security
- Two photos (print your name and I-94 number on the back in pencil or lightly in pen)
- If you have received work authorization from USCIS in the past, you will also need to send copies of your prior work authorization card/application
Please allow at least 12 weeks for the USCIS to process your application. You can begin working after USCIS has approved your application and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If granted, your employment authorization will be valid for up to one year. You can submit an application to renew your work permission, provided you still meet the criteria at the end of one year.