On this page:
- On-Campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension: 24-Month
- "Cap-Gap" OPT Extension
- Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship
- International Student Employment Rights
On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and it does not require USCIS approval. However, although F-1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities are limited. Even if you can obtain a job on campus, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies.
For on-campus work, an F-1 student is subject to the following rules:
- You must maintain valid F-1 status
- You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
- You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods as long as you remain enrolled at Monmouth College
The definition of on-campus employment includes:
- Work performed on the school's premises directly for your school (including work affiliated with a grant or assistantship).
- Work performed for on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria (Employment with on-site commercial firms which do not provide direct student services, such as a construction company building a school building, is not deemed on-campus employment for the purposes of the rule).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is an F-1 student benefit. It is authorization for employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum and is related to a student’s major area of study. This can be defined as: alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education (CO-OP) or other type of required internship or practicum.
To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you must:
- Have completed an academic year (that is, a fall and a spring semester). If your degree program requires employment authorization before you have not met the academic year requirement, please see the DSO / Intercultural Life..
- Have been full-time every fall and spring semester at Monmouth College: Undergraduates must complete a minimum of 6 college course credits
After you have completed the forms, you must sign-up for a follow-up meeting with the DSO / Intercultural Life.
The Office of Intercultural Life authorizes the CPT after verification that a student meets the eligibility requirements for the CPT, has a job offer, and has enrolled in a class requiring employment. The office of Intercultural Life gives the authorization on the I-20 Employment page; no Employment Authorization Document from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services is required.
CPT is approved for a specific employer, place of employment and time period. You must request any changes two weeks before the new employer, place, and/or time period may begin (i.e. completing new forms and obtaining new authorization).
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is an F-1 student benefit. It is authorization for employment directly related to a student’s major of study.
In order to apply for optional practical training, you must be able to respond, “Yes”, to the following questions:
- Is your I-20 current? Does it reflect your current field of study and educational level?
- Do you have a valid, unexpired passport?
- Have you had less than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT)?
- Have you been a full-time student for one full academic year?
- Have you been full-time as an F-1 student every semester you attended Monmouth (3.25 course credits/semester minimum)?
If you have answered “no” to any of these questions you will need to speak with the DSO of the Office of Intercultural Life by phone (309-457-2428) or during walk-in hours.
The following downloadable forms are needed to apply for OPT:
- Optional Practical Training Document Checklist & Post Completion Instructions
- Optional Practical Training Certification Form
- Instructions for Completing Form I-765
- Form I-765 and check or money order for $410
- Addresses for Filing
- E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (utilize a non-Monmouth College email address)
- Sample Letter from Employer
- SEVIS Help Hub OPT
After completing the OPT Certification form, you must make an appointment for an OPT follow-up session. During the OPT follow-up session you may turn in/ go over your completed paperwork and ask individual questions of the DSO in the of Intercultural Life. Please allow 5 workings days for the Director to process your OPT paperwork. You will be given a pick-up slip for your OPT paperwork when you turn it in. Mailing instructions will be given to you at the time you pick up your OPT application.
Once you receive your new EAD card you must submit a copy of it to the DSO for your file.
CPT/ OPT Workshops are offered as needed.
"If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your Form I-20, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment if you have one. If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status."- https://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel#wcm-survey-target-id.
You are eligible to travel abroad on a temporary basis (less than 5 months) and re-enter the U.S to continue employment. F-1 regulations require that the student present the following documents to CBP upon reentry:
- Passport valid at least 6 months into the future from the date of reentry
- Valid F-1 Visa stamp
- I-20 containing the OPT recommendation and a travel signature less than 6 months old. The DSO needs to sign your I-20 before you travel.
- Unexpired EAD work permit
- Proof the student is returning to resume employment. This can be in the form of a job offer letter or a letter written on letterhead from the student’s supervisor confirming employment. However, a paystub or other documentation showing intent to return to work may be sufficient for a CBP (Customs) officer.
OPT is a benefit of the F-1 status. Therefore, students traveling while on OPT and have an expired F-1 visa are required to apply for a new F-1 visa. Although the U.S. consulates/embassies are permitted to grant visa renewals to students participating in OPT, these students may be subject to additional scrutiny. The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant intent visa. Therefore, applicants are required to provide proof of “binding ties” to their home country. This may be more challenging for some students on OPT.
STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension: 24-Month
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule to strengthen and enhance the optional practical training (OPT) program for F-1 international students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The new STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field and effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension.
The 17-month STEM OPT regulations remain in effect through May 9, 2016. The 2016 STEM OPT 24-month extension final rule is effective beginning May 10, 2016.
To qualify for the 24-month extension, you must:
- Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
- "The student is in Active F-1 status in an authorized period of regular post-completion OPT" - DHS
- Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by SEVP when you submit your STEM OPT extension application.
- Work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed below in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities section.
Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a prior STEM degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions, and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this prior degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.
STEM degrees you obtain in the future: If you enroll in a new academic program in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
Student must submit
- Form I-983 (To the DSO, in replacement of the OPT certification form)
- Form I-765 and other supporting documents, including extension I-20 from DSO, 3 additional documents
below and payments ( To USCIS). This process will be similar to your initial filing
except for the additions below. (Please see Optional Practical Training (OPT) for directions.)
- Must use verification code (c) (3) (C)
- You must attach a copy of your STEM Diploma.
- You must attach your employer's name as listed in E-Verify
- You must attach your employer's E-Verify Company Identification Number or valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number
If you file your extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will extend your employment authorization for 180 days.
You must work with your DSO/ Intercultural Life to obtain any additional documentation required from Monmouth College.
After Receiving a STEM OPT Extension
Student Reporting responsibilities
If you receive a STEM OPT extension, you must:
- Send a copy of the new OPT Extension EAD card, after receiving it (To the DSO)
- Report changes to your DSO within 10 days of the change.
- You must report changes to:
- Your legal name
- Your residential or mailing address
- Your email address
- Your employer's name
- Your employer's address
- Report to your DSO/ Intercultural Life every 6 months to confirm the information listed above, even if none of your information has changed.
- Self-Evaluations: Self-evaluations are submitted at the end of any employment and at the 12 and 24
month marks to the DSO from the start date of the STEM extension.
- Students must create self-evaluations that detail the progress made toward the training
goals outlined on the Form I-983 for that particular employer. An employing supervisor
must confirm and sign each self-evaluation. DSOs must keep these self-evaluations
in the student’s file. The submission timelines are below:
- Student still works for original employer: Must submit a self-evaluation within 10 days of the 12- and 24-month marks of the start date of STEM OPT employment authorization.
- Student changes employers before the 12- and/or 24-month marks:
- Must submit self-evaluation within 10 days of ending each employment with current employer.
- Must submit self-evaluation within 10 days of 12- and 24-month marks of the start date of STEM OPT employment authorization.
- Students must create self-evaluations that detail the progress made toward the training goals outlined on the Form I-983 for that particular employer. An employing supervisor must confirm and sign each self-evaluation. DSOs must keep these self-evaluations in the student’s file. The submission timelines are below:
Your Employer must submit
- Their portion of the Form I-983, "Training Plan for STEM OPT Students." (Instructions for Form 1-983)
STEM OPT employers are responsible for completing Section 3 to Section 6 on the Form I-983 and must provide a signature on the STEM OPT student’s annual self-evaluation, also documented on the form.
Please note, employers may use existing training programs for evaluating the progress of STEM OPT students, so long as the existing training program meets DHS's requirements as outlined on the Form I-983.
STEM OPT students may participate in entrepreneurial ventures. However, they may not fill out their own Form I-983, Sections 3 to 6, nor act as their own employer for the purposes of the form.
Section 3: Employer Information
In Section 3 of the Form I-983, employers must document specific information about the company and agreed upon practical training schedule and compensation.
Each STEM OPT student needs to prepare and execute, with the prospective employer, a formal training plan that identifies learning objectives and a plan for achieving those objectives. The STEM OPT student and employer must work together to finalize the plan and document it in Section 5 of the form.
"Cap-Gap" OPT Extension
Any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status will be allowed to extend the duration of F-1 status and any current employment authorization until the first day of the new fiscal year. This is referred to as filling the "Cap- Gap," meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the "gap" between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.
The “Cap-Gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires and ends on the start date of their approved H-1B employment.
Cap-Gap occurs because an employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H-1B petition submitted more than six months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training, while the student's authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect (including any period of time during the academic course of study, any authorized periods of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), and the 60-day departure preparation period, commonly known as the "grace period"). As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H-1B cap-subject petition is April 1, for the following fiscal year, starting October 1. If USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the accompanying change of status request, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1.
Please note: F-1 students who have entered the 60-day grace period are not employment-authorized. If an H-1B cap-subject petition is filed on the behalf of a student who has entered the 60-day grace period, the student will receive the automatic extension of his or her F-1 status, but will not become employment-authorized since the student was not employment-authorized at the time H-1B petition was filed.
Those Not Qualified for an Extension
F-1 students who do not qualify for a Cap-Gap extension, and whose periods of authorized stay expire before October 1, are required to leave the United States, apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad, and then seek readmission to the United States in H-1B status, for the dates reflected on the approved H-1B petition.
Additionally, the Cap-Gap provision applies only to beneficiaries of cap-subject H-1B petitions, not to beneficiaries of cap-exempt H-1B petitions.
Denied H-1B Petitions
If an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by Cap-Gap is denied, rejected, revoked, or withdrawn, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, revocation, or withdrawal of the petition) to prepare for and depart the United States.
The 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud. In such cases, the F-1 student is ineligible for Cap-Gap extension of status and the 60- day grace period. Similarly, the 60-day grace period and Cap-Gap extension of status does not apply to an F-1 student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of a status violation, fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, students are required to immediately leave the United States.
Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship
Employment authorization due to severe economic hardship is difficult to obtain. It is a very limited option for students who can prove extreme foreseen economic conditions. The application must be submitted to and approved by USCIS. Students interested in this option should see the DSO in the office of Intercultural Life.
- Overview of Severe Economic Hardship Employment
- Economic Hardship Form
- Instructions for Completing Form I-765
- Form I-765 and check or money order for $380
- E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
After you have completed the forms, you must sign-up for a follow-up meeting with the DSO in the office of Intercultural Life.
Employers need to send a hire letter for the newly employed international student to the Office of Intercultural Life at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to e-file/ e-verify for student.
Please see above sections of CPT, OPT, or OPT Extension for sample letters.
There is no cost to register in E‐Verify program. Information on E‐verify and the enrollment procedure can be found at the USCIS website.