Employment for F1-International Students

Contact Us

Office of Admissions
524 West 59th Street
Room L.64.00
New York, NY 10019
877-564-6529

For questions about
obtaining F-1 status, please contact:
Elaine Thompson, Designated School Official
524 West 59th Street
Room L.64 NB
New York, NY 10019
212-393-6440
elthompson@jjay.cuny.edu

Applications, Forms & Information

Fall 2014/Spring 2015 I-20 Application

Changing to F-1 Student Status

F-1 Transfer Release Form

Optional Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training

 ON CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT
 
International students are eligible for on-campus employment for a maximum of twenty hours per week while classes are in session. Students may work full-time during breaks and over the summer.  Before beginning on-campus employment, you must receive authorization from the DSO. Once you are offered a position, bring your offer letter to the DSO for approval.  

To find an on-campus position you can stop by various departments throughout the college to see if there are any openings. You may also qualify to be a tutor in an academic field, depending on your grade point average (GPA). 

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Under existing rules, an F-1 student may be authorized to receive up to 12 months of practical training either pre- and/or post- completion of studies.

Pre-completion OPT:

An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he/she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session.

Post-completion OPT:

An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study.
OPT is a benefit of F-1 visa status. An F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of OPT after graduation.

Application Information

 A student in F-1 status may apply up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after the completion date. Students MUST mail the completed OPT application packet within 30 days of the creation of the OPT I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 3. Program completion refers to the date that you have fullfilled all coursework for your degree. It is not your graduation date. The application must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion date - if even 1 day late the application can be denied.

Optional Practical Training is limited to a total of 12 months. Students in certain “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields may be eligible for a one-time extension of 17 months of post completion OPT. There is a separate application for filing this extension. Please speak with your DSO if you feel you may qualify for the extension.

Processing Information

An application filed without the required fee, all the necessary documents, signature and photographs will be returned to you as incomplete. You may correct the deficiency and resubmit the application, however, an application is not considered properly filed until the USCIS accepts it. If your application is complete and filed at a USCIS Service Center, you will be mailed a Notice of Action Form I-797, receipt notice.

Decisions on your application

a) Approval: if approved, your EAD card will be mailed to you at your filed address.
b) Request for further information: if additional information or documentation is required, a written request will be sent to you requesting further specific information.
c) Denial: if your application cannot be approved, you will receive a written notice explaining the basis of you denial. You may file a “motion to reopen.”

Time

The estimated processing time is 60 to 90 days. Processing times vary depending on USCIS workload. Employment may NOT commence until you have obtained approval from the USCIS and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

Student Responsibilities while on OPT

Students are required to report the following to the DSO within 10 days:
• The beginning of employment, with the name and address of the employer.
• The termination of employment.
• Any change in your personal address.
• Any change in your employer's address. 

Employment and Unemployment

An offer of employment is not required to obtain approval for OPT. OPT is recommended by the DSO and authorized by the USCIS. During OPT, no student may be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days. For STEM students approved for the 17-month extension, the limit on unemployment is raised to an aggregate of no more than 120 days.

Options for Students Unable to Find Employment
 
Students who are unable to find full-time employment may look to alternative options to avoid reaching the aggregate 90-day unemployment limit (120 for STEM extension). Student’s may volunteer for a company, complete an unpaid internship or work part-time. For these options, the student must work a minimum of 20 hours per week. Please note that students must still report to the DSO at the beginning of these employment options, and the termination. Also, please remember that the employment MUST be related to your field of study.

NOTE: Students should keep records of their entire employment history!

Studying while on OPT

Students on OPT who plan to transfer to another college or university in the United States during or within 60 days after completing OPT must inform the DSO and provide proof of acceptance to the new school so that we can perform the appropriate “transfer out” process in SEVIS. Authorization for OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer your SEVIS record to another school or begin full-time study at a different educational level.

Traveling During OPT

The DHS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) agree that an F-1 student who has timely filed an application for OPT post-completion of study may travel outside the United States while the OPT application is pending, provided that the F-1 student can present the Notice of Action Form I-797, proving that the application has been filed. However, once the EAD card for OPT is issued to the F-1 student, if a student decides to travel abroad, the student can only re-enter the United States to resume employment. DHS has clarified that the F-1 student does not need to have already begun actual employment before leaving, as long as the student has a job offer for which he/she is returning to commence employment.

If you are traveling outside the US and your visa is valid and OPT is pending, the documents you need to reenter the U.S. are:

• SEVIS I-20 signed by the Designated School Officer at John Jay College
• Unexpired passport
• Valid F-1 visa
• I 797 Receipt, proving that the OPT application was filed
 
If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your visa is valid And OPT is approved, the documents you need to reenter the U.S. are:

• SEVIS I-20 signed by the Designated School Officer at John Jay  College
• Valid EAD card
• Unexpired passport
• Valid F-1 visa
• Letter from a U.S. based employer certifying that you are returning to resume or commence employment

If your visa expires:

If you are not planning to travel, it does not matter if your visa is valid or not. A visa is used to emter the U.S. and has no relation to how long you may stay.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your visa is expired then you must apply for a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the U.S. Please note that the issuance of a visa is dependent on the U.S. consulate and is never guaranteed and often denied for students on OPT. It is AT YOUR OWN RISK to travel and apply for a new visa.

FAQ FOR OPT

Q. How much practical training time am I eligible to receive?
A. If you have not been authorized for any previous practical training, Optional practical training is limited to a total of 12 months. Students in certain “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields may be eligible for a one-time extension of 17 months of post completion OPT.  There is a separate application for filing for this extension.  Please speak with the DSO if you feel you may qualify for the extension. 

Q. May I obtain 12 months of practical training after each degree?
A. Yes. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new regulations for OPT that took effect on January 1, 2003. A student is now eligible for 12 months of practical training for EACH change to a higher educational level. Therefore, a student in F-1 status who enters as a Bachelor's degree is eligible for up to 12 months practical training upon completion of the Bachelor's and then ANOTHER 12 months upon completion of the next higher degree (Master's).

Q. How long does it take for the DSO to process my OPT application?
A. After making an appointment with the DSO, the OPT I-20 can be issued that same day.

Q. How is my application processed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services?
A. To apply for your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, you must mail your completed application and all required attachments to USCIS.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT MAIL YOUR OPT APPLICATION UNTIL YOU RECEIVE YOUR SEVIS I-20 WITH THE OPT INDICATED ON THE 3rd PAGE.

Q. How long will the application approval process at USCIS take?
A. Processing time at the USCIS is highly variable and difficult to predict. It can take up to twelve weeks and sometimes longer. Therefore, you are urged to apply early to allow sufficient time for you to receive your EAD card.

Q. May I apply in person at a USCIS District Office?
A. No. OPT applications are only processed by mail at the USCIS processing center. The EAD Card is then mailed to the applicant after it is processed.

Q. How much is the USCIS fee?
A. The USCIS application fee for OPT has increased to $380.00.

Q. What is the deadline for sending in my application to the USCIS?
A.  A student in F-1 status may apply up to 90 days before the completion date or semester end date and up to 60 days after their completion date.  Students MUST apply within 30 days of the creation of the OPT I-20 with OPT recommendation. Program completion refers to the date that you have finished all coursework and any project/thesis/dissertation for your degree. It is not your graduation date.

Q. What if I apply for practical training and end up not using it? Perhaps I won't be able to find a job, or perhaps I decide to go back to school. What happens then?
A. Applying for practical training is a two-step process. You must first obtain your certified OPT I-20 from the DSO, and then mail your application along with all the required documents to USCIS to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. Once USCIS approves your OPT application, it is not possible to cancel the practical training authorization. Therefore, any unused time will be lost.

Q. I have a job offer but my EAD card has not arrived yet. Can I begin work?
A. NO!

Q. Can I work at any job with OPT authorization?
A. No! OPT authorization is only for employment related to your field of study. Working in an unrelated job is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Do not put your legal status at risk.

Q. Once I receive my EAD card, is there anything else I should do?
A. Yes, please bring in your EAD card to the DSO so that a photocopy can be made for your file. Please Note: Employment cannot begin until the date authorized for practical training on the EAD and you have your EAD card “in hand”.

Q. Do I need a job offer to obtain practical training?
A. No. Proof of employment is not required to obtain practical training.

Q. What about change of address or change of name while I am on post-completion OPT?
A. While on post completion OPT, students must continue to report any name or address changes to the DSO, because the school continues to maintain the F-1 record until OPT ends. You can obtain a “changes of address” form from the DSO.

Q. I may be moving while my application is pending. Can I give the mailing address for a friend?
A. Yes. If you will be moving before you receive your EAD card then you will want to have the card sent to you at a friend or relative's address. To use a friend or relative's address, complete form I-765, by showing your mailing address like this:

Your Name
c/o (the name of your relative or friend)
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Q. I am planning to travel outside of the United States. The signature on my I-20 is eight months old. Do I need a new signature?
A. Yes, while you are on OPT you need a travel signature on page 3 of your I-20 that is less than 6 months old on the day of your re-entry.

Q. What if I want to travel outside the United States during practical training?
A. The best general advice is that an F-1 student on OPT who has received the EAD card, and has to travel abroad should make sure that there is documentation from his or her employer confirming the employment or the job offer. Otherwise, the student assumes a risk that he/she may not be allowed to re-enter the United States.

Please note: If you will need to obtain a new F-1 visa, such travel may be risky. There have been cases where students who had completed their degree program, have an approved EAD card and gainful employment, were denied a new visa and not permitted to reenter the United States. Even if your visa is still valid, USCIS regulations state that re-entry is permitted only to “resume authorized employment.” Therefore, students who do not yet have jobs take a risk if they travel outside the U.S. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their travel plans with the DSO before they travel.

CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

As an F-1 International Student, you may qualify to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, or cooperative education arranged with the approval of your program, or any type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements. CPT may take place during the academic year and/or in the summer. CPT can only be authorized prior to the completion of your course of study. Because USCIS uses a broad definition of employment, any activity for which a student receives a benefit, monetary or otherwise—even unpaid internships require CPT authorization.

For CPT, you must register for an internship course at John Jay College. Registration can only occur AFTER you have received approval from the Faculty Advisor responsible for the course. You will receive credit(s) for the internship course and can be paid by the company. Students are ONLY eligible for part-time CPT (up to 20 hours per week) during the fall and spring semesters. Students may choose to engage in full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) when school is not in session or during your annual break.

A student that accrues 365 days or more of Full-Time CPT becomes ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). A student is then essentially forfeiting his/her OPT.

*If you are authorized to work on-campus and also choose to engage in Practical Training (CPT or Pre-OPT), per ICE regulations the total number of hours for the Practical training and on-campus employment can NOT exceed 20 hours while school is in session. You may work full-time during periods when school is not in session or during your annual break.
 
To qualify, the CPT course "must be an integral part of your established curriculum" The DSO must validate to the USCIS that the CPT course represents satisfaction of the requirements for your particular degree.

ACQUIRING CPT APPROVAL 
 
The following THREE (3) items are required to be completed and submitted to the DSO to process an application for CPT:

1. Completed Faculty Advisor’s Recommendation Form for CPT

2. Offer letter from employer on their official letterhead stating:
• The starting and ending dates of the placement
• The number of hours per week (maximum of 20 for Part-Time CPT)
• A brief description of duties to be performed

3. Proof that you have registered and paid for the Internship Course

Once the CPT application is complete, the DSO will update the SEVIS record and print a copy of the student’s SEVIS I-20, authorizing CPT with that employer only. The SEVIS I-20 will be given to the student. You must be issued the SEVIS I-20 before commencing employment.

Students in F-1 status must have been lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year before becoming eligible for practical training. CPT must be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study.

Undergraduate students must maintain good academic standing.

FAQ FOR CPT

Q.  When do I need authorization for CPT?
A.  You must have authorization from the DSO before you begin a paid or unpaid internship or any other form of CPT.  As an F-1 student, your employment cannot begin until you receive your SEVIS I-20 with the CPT endorsement.

Any internship, paid or unpaid, must be authorized before you begin the placement!

Beginning CPT without proper authorization is a violation of immigration regulations and will have serious consequences. 

Q.  What is CPT—Curricular Practical Training?
A.  Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum.  CPT is defined to be alterative work/study, internship, or cooperative education arranged with the approval of your program, or any type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements.  CPT may take place during the academic year and/or in the summer and MUST be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study.  Because USCIS uses a broad definition of employment - any activity for which a student receives a benefit, monetary or otherwise - even unpaid internships require CPT authorization.

Q.  When is CPT required and when is it recommended
A. CPT may be required or recommended.

CPT is required when it is a required part of the curriculum; it should be mentioned in the section of the College catalog, which describes the department’s requirements and course offerings. All students in that degree program are required to complete an internship or practicum.

CPT is recommended when it is beneficial for the student to engage in the employment experience but the experience is not necessary for the completion of the degree. A student authorized for recommended CPT is required by current immigration regulations to register for a minimum of 1 college credit, which reflects the CPT placement; the academic department for each semester of the CPT placement, including summer semester, must grant this credit.

Q.  Who is eligible to do CPT?
A. Students in F-1 status must have been lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year to become eligible for practical training. CPT must be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study.
In addition to the lawful requirements, students must also meet certain program requirements.

Q.  How much CPT can I do and still be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
A.  A student that accrues 365 days or more of Full-Time CPT becomes ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). A student is then essentially forfeiting his/her OPT.

Q. How many hours can I work per week?
A. Undergraduate and Graduate Students can work up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring Semesters, and full-time during the annual break.

Q. Can I work on-campus and do CPT?
A.  If you are authorized to work on-campus and also choose to engage in Practical Training (CPT or Pre-OPT), per ICE regulations the total number of hours for the Practical training and on-campus employment can NOT exceed 20 hours while school is in session. You may work full-time during periods when school is not in session or during your annual break. This rule applies to both graduate and undergraduate students.
http://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment/faq_f_on1.htm#_1_13

Q.  What must my GPA be?
A.  Graduate students must have at least a 3.0 GPA. For Undergraduate students you must maintaining good academic standing.

Q.  Is there a fee for CPT?
A.  There is no fee to apply for CPT. Processing is done by the DSO. 

Q.  What paperwork is required?
A. The following three (3) items are needed to process an application for CPT:

1. Completed Faculty Advisor’s Recommendation Form for CPT
2. Offer letter from employer on their official letterhead stating:
• The starting and ending dates of the placement
• The number of hours per week (maximum of 20 for Part-Time CPT)
• A brief description of duties to be performed
3. Proof that you have registered and paid for the Internship Course

Once the CPT application is complete, the DSO will update the SEVIS record and print a copy of the student’s SEVIS I-20, authorizing CPT with that employer only. The SEVIS I-20 will then be given to the student. You must be issued the SEVIS I-20 before commencing employment

Q.   If I get a new position, or I need to work for an additional period of time do I need to do a new CPT application?
A.   A new application will be required if there is a change of employers or if the employment is to be continued beyond the current ending date. An updated offer letter and a Faculty Advisor’s form are required.

Q. Can I work on-campus and do CPT?
A. If you are authorized to work on-campus and also choose to engage in Practical Training (CPT or Pre-OPT), per ICE regulations the total number of hours for the Practical Training and on-campus employment can NOT exceed twenty hours while school is in session. You may work full-time during periods when school is not in session or during your annual break.