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Employment Options for F-1 International Students

Last updated on Jan 12, 2024

F-1 students must obtain work authorization for ALL off-campus work conducted in the United States. This includes freelance work, work for a US company while abroad, work done for internationally based companies while present in the U.S, and selling artwork online.

Below is information about opportunities for international students to gain work experience during their studies at CCA.

Questions about working in F-1 status? Email

On Campus Employment

International students with F-1 nonimmigrant status may participate in CCA's Student Employment Program, which offers paid positions on campus as well as opportunities to work in local nonprofit organizations that partner with CCA.

On Campus work is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year and 37.5 hours per week during the summer.

Volunteer/Unpaid Work

Students are often interested in potential volunteer opportunities, as it is a good way to give back to the community and meet new people.

However, it is essential that international students understand what counts as volunteering in order to ensure compliance with immigration regulations.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

International students who have completed at least one academic year in F-1 status are eligible to apply for CPT work authorization for employment that has an integral curricular connection to their program of study.

CPT is authorized by an ISS advisor during an appointment with the student. CPT authorization must be obtained prior to engaging in any work.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT allows international students who have completed at least one academic year in F-1 status to work in the United States in a job related to their major or field of study. This work authorization may be granted during a student’s program of study or immediately after graduation.

Most students choose to participate in OPT following graduation since it allows them an additional year of work experience in the United States. OPT is recommended by an ISS advisor and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM OPT)

STEM OPT is an extension of post-completion OPT available to students who graduate with a qualifying science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree and who meet other, additional requirements. Qualifying students may apply to extend their 12-month post-completion OPT for an additional 24 months. Review the STEM OPT portal page for more information.