F-1 Employment Options

International students in F-1 status should check in with the ISSO before beginning any type of employment.  Unauthorized employment carries very severe penalties that can ruin your immigration record; we can help you avoid such complications.

On-Campus Employment

F-l students may work in any on-campus job (when the payment is from the university). Such work is limited to 20 hrs/wk during the semester (if you have a fellowship/assistantship, you are not eligible for additional on-campus employment). Full time (anything more than 20 hrs/wk) is permitted during vacation periods. No special work permission is needed to begin working. Once a student graduates, s/he is no longer authorized for on-campus employment. If a student is offered a job on campus after graduation, s/he can only work based on practical training work authorization.

Off-Campus Employment

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students holding F-1 status are eligible for CPT only after having been enrolled full-time for one academic year and before completing the degree program. Exceptions are available for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular training.

The CPT must be considered an integral part of the established program curriculum. It may be part-time or full-time depending on the curriculum requirements.

The student must have an offer of employment from a curriculum-approved CPT employer and the UCSF academic advisor must provide a written recommendation for the CPT confirming that the job experience is a required part of the curriculum. ISSO and DHS approval is required in advance of beginning CPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

International students are eligible to apply for OPT after one full academic year of full-time study. Advance approval is required from the ISSO and the DHS. Before beginning work, the student must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the DHS with the assistance of the ISSO.

The student may work on or off-campus as long as the practical training is directly related to the student’s program of study as confirmed by a written recommendation from the student’s academic advisor. Employment may take place before program completion for up to 20 hours per week. However, the student must maintain a full course of study. Full-time OPT is allowed after completion of the student’s required courses.

OPT is allowed for a cumulative maximum of twelve months. However, use of previous full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for OPT. Students must apply for OPT prior to completing their course requirements up to a maximum of 90 days in advance of completion.

For more information and how to apply, visit F-1 Optional Practical Training.