Everything you Need to Know about Working on an F1 Visa

social

November 27, 2016 •CAREER •Author:

With higher tuitions, intensive course loads and specific time frames in which undergrad needs to be completed, being an International Student on an F1 visa has never been more difficult. Luckily, being able to work doesn't have to be so tough! As you may be aware, the first step in gaining employment begins with obtaining a Social Security Card. So, to make things a little easier for you, I’ve outlined easy steps to be able to get your Social Security Card as quickly as possible so you can start working!

Keep in mind, students on the F-1 visa may not work off-campus during the first academic year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. 

You must follow certain eligibility requirements in order to attain employment while on an F1 Student Visa. 

  • You must have a full course load (12-course hours)
  • Employment must not exceed 20 hours per week
  • Your employment must be related to your major.

Now, there are two different methods depending on whether you’d like to take up a job on or off campus. Here are the instructions based on your path of choice!

Undergraduate On-Campus Employment

Upon hire, have your potential employer provide you with a job letter that validates your employment with the company and/or department. Your job letter must state your role, the length of employment, the overview of duties and hours not to exceed 20 per week.

Set up an appointment with your University’s International Student Office. To that meeting, you must bring your I- 20, Passport, valid visa and the Job Letter.

In turn, your International Student Office will create a supplementary letter authorizing your employment on their end from the University.

Upon completion of your appointment with the International Student Office, you will then take the following items to the Social Security Office:

Both Employer & International Student Office Job Letters
I-20
Passport
Valid visa

The Social Security Office will review all documents and process your request, you will be able to get your Social Security Card. Since it takes about 2 weeks to arrive in the mail, you will be provided with a receipt to utilize in the meantime so you may start working.

Undergraduate Off-Campus Employment

The job must relate to your major. Once found, you must inquire whether the job counts towards any credits for your major? Or, is it an internship?

  • If your job does count toward your major
  • and/or is an internship, you must then download the CPT Form* from the University’s International Student Office’s website. Have your future employer complete it and your Academic Advisor must sign off on it.
  • If your job does not count towards any credits
  • and/or is not an internship but IS related to your major you may apply for the OPT

Do note, unless you are within the Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics field, your OPT duration is 1 year. Should you apply and receive your OPT while still in undergrad, the length of time you work will reduce from this 1 year time period.

  • If your job does not count towards any credits
  • and/or is not an internship and IS NOT related to your major, you will still need to apply for the OPT visa. Duration constraint of the OPT visa as noted above will remain the same.
    Once your OPT has been received, you will then take the following items to the Social Security Office:
    OPT
    I-20
    Passport
    Valid visa

The Social Security Office will review all documents and process your request, you will be able to get your Social Security Card. Since it takes about 2 weeks to arrive in the mail, you will be provided with a receipt to utilize in the meantime so you may start working.

CPT form

Stands for Curricular Practical Training and is defined as alternative study/work, internship, cooperative education.
To qualify –

  • The work experience must be required for your degree or academic credit is awarded.
  • The student must have been enrolled in one year of full-time studies on a valid F1 Student Visa
  • CPT is date specific and specific to your employer

If you have questions for the author or would like us to cover topics like this that might be helpful, please let us know in the comments below!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply