Employment for F-1 International Students


F-1 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 school breaks and during 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. Please note that F-1 students do not qualify for Federal Work Study positions.

To find an on-campus job, you can stop by various departments throughout the college to see if there are any openings. In addition, you may qualify for part-time on-campus employment jobs at any City University of New York (CUNY) campuses. Visit http://www.cuny.edu/ for part-time employment opportunities. Generally, they are categorized as College Assistants. Please note however that there are few part-time openings available.


As an F-1 international student, you may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). 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 during the summer. F-1 students must have been lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year for eligibility. CPT can only be authorized prior to the completion of your course of study.

Registration for an internship course is required. Registration can only occur after you have received approval from the faculty advisor responsible for the course. 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. Please note that a student that accrues 365 days or more of full-time CPT becomes ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

For further information as well as the CPT application instructions, please visit here.


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. An F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of OPT after graduation.

For further information as well as the OPT application instructions, please visit here.
Traveling During Post-Completion OPT
An F-1 student who has timely filed an application for Post-Completion OPT 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, the student can only re-enter the United States to resume employment. F-1 students must provide proof of employment or a job offer upon re-entry.

F-1 students on OPT need the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:

  • SEVIS I-20 signed by the DSO at John Jay College
  • Unexpired passport
  • Valid F-1 student visa
  • I 797 Receipt proving that the OPT application was filed, or;
  • EAD card and proof of employment

If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your F-1 visa is expired, please consult with the DSO for advisement.


Q. How much practical training time am I eligible to receive?
A. Optional Practical Training is limited to a total of 12 months for each higher degree level. Please note however that any amount of Pre-completion OPT used during a program of study will be deducted from the allotted 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. 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 the DSO if you feel you may qualify for the extension. 

Q. May I obtain 12 months of practical training after each degree?
A. It depends. An F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of practical training for each change to a higher educational level. For example, a student in F-1 status who completes a Bachelor's degree is eligible for up to 12 months of practical training upon completion of the Bachelor's degree and then another 12 months upon completion of the next higher degree (ie. Master's).

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

Q. How long does it take for USCIS to process my OPT application?
A. Upon receipt of the application, it can take up to 3 months to process.

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

Q. What is the deadline for sending in my application to USCIS?
A. A student in F-1 status may apply up to 90 days before the program completion date and up to 60 days after their completion date. Students however 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 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. 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! You must have received your EAD card to begin work.

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 un-related job may be a violation of your F-1 status.

Q. Once I receive my EAD card, is there anything else I should do?
A. Yes. Please provide a copy of your EAD card to the DSO for your file.

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 should have the card sent to you at a friend or relative's address. To use a friend or relative's address, complete the 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 Post-Completion OPT, you need a travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 every 6 months.