International Students

The Career Services Center strives to assist international students with their career development plans. However, international students confront some unique difficulties in a job search. The Center can offer advice, information, and limited interviewing opportunities. Although a vast majority of employers who interview on campus request unrestricted authorization to work in the U.S. on a full-time basis (such as permanent residency, political asylum, or refugee status), some do not and are willing to discuss employment opportunities with International students. Most companies are restricted to students who complete a Master’s degree; interview opportunities for undergraduate international students are very limited. However, even if you do not meet the criteria for an on-campus interview, we can submit you resume to recruiters at your request. We also provide individualized counseling and have Resources designed particularly for the international student. Visit this website to collect more information.

International Student Work Regulations

The issuance of the I-20 by the university and the F-1 Visa by a U.S. Consulate is based on the commitment by the students that they have sufficient funds available for their entire educational program at the university. Therefore, the permission to work is carefully governed by the INS.
If a full-time student is doing paid work as a part of an academic program, no permission is required from INS. Such employment might be encountered as a part of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. The Office of Student Employment will request permission from the ISS office.
NOTE: Are you receiving a scholarship from an outside source for tuition, room and board, or a reduced rate on your rent? If you are and you are expected to provide services by mentoring other students or working in the office by answering phones and taking messages, or taking care of children/elder person, INS considers this as off-campus employment. See Off-Campus Employment, below, for more information.


An F-1 student may work for the university for up to 20 hours per week during semesters as long as he/she is a full-time student and may work full-time on campus during vacation periods. All non-immigrant aliens who want to work on campus must request the University Immigration Specialist to provide a letter of authorization giving them permission to work. The letter of authorization is then presented to the Student Employment Office. The applicant must provide form(s) of identification as listed on back of the Form I-9 in order for the Student Employment Office to complete the paperwork.


An F-1 student may be authorized by INS to work off-campus while school is in session based on severe economic hardship. F-1 students who have been enrolled full-time, are in good academic standing, holding F-1 status for a minimum of nine months are eligible to apply for employment authorization because of economic hardship. Employment may be authorized for up to a maximum of one year and is limited to 20 hours per week during academic semesters (full time during vacation periods). Application must be submitted to INS with fee. If approved, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card will be issued. The student cannot begin employment until he or she obtains the EAD. Employment authorization will be granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of the student’s course of study. Off-campus employment based on economic hardship can only be renewed by INS and only if the student continues to maintain lawful status and good academic standing. If the application is denied, INS will indicate the reason for the denial. A denial may not be appealed.


An F-1 student may be eligible to engage in temporary employment to gain some practical training in his or her field of study, both before and after completion of studies. Practical training is divided into two categories: (1) curricular practical training before completion of studies and (2) optional practical training both before and after completion of studies.


Employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum may be authorized by the ISS office as curricular practical training. Curricular practical training is defined as an alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. There are two types of Curricular Practical Training: Required and Elective. Both must be an integral, non-waivable part of established curriculum for a degree program. Unless you are a graduate student, you are not eligible to engage in curricular practical training until you have been in the U.S. in F-1 student status for nine months. Graduate students whose degree programs require immediate participation in curricular training may apply for it at any time. You may begin to work after your application has been approved.
A student who participates in a curricular practical training program for 12 months or longer is not eligible for practical training after graduation. Periods of part-time off-campus employment as curricular practical training undertaken concurrently with course work will be counted at the rate of 50 percent (two months worked equal one month of practical training).

Optional Practical Training Before or After Completion of Studies

An F-1 student may apply to INS for optional practical training directly related to his/her major area of study after being enrolled for 9 consecutive months.

Optional practical training falls into 4 categories:

  • During the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session if the student is currently enrolled and eligible, and intends to register for the next term or session.
  • While school is in session, provided that optional practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week.
  • Full-time after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or the equivalent), if the student is in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program
  • Full-time after completion of the course of study. Training under the first three options would occur before completion of a course of study, while the last option would occur following completion of a course of study.

An F-1 visa holder may be granted permission to work for one year after completion of a degree program if the F-1 status has been maintained. This is called practical training and must be related to the student's field of study, helpful for professional development, and unavailable in his/her home country. Application should be made no earlier than 120 days before and not later than 60 days after graduation or completion of ALL degree requirements. Optional Practical Training is for one time only no matter how many degrees are earned.

  • Pre-graduation practical training may be part-time (20 hours per week) during the semester or full-time (40 hours per week) during authorized vacations for a specified period. This time will be deducted from practical training after graduation.
  • Post-graduation practical training is full-time employment for a specified period. Apply 120 days before, or 60 days after graduation, or last degree enrollment.
  • Eligibility for optional practical training. Student must have completed a full-time course of study in the previous nine months. Grades of "I" (incomplete) and correspondence study grades must be completed and the grade indicated on the transcript.
  • A student working full-time in optional practical training after completion of studies may attend school part-time. Optional practical training after completion of studies may not be part-time.
  • Employment cannot begin until the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card has been received from Immigration and Naturalization Services.
  • J-1 exchange visitors may be granted permission to accept employment only by their sponsoring agencies. Most sponsors do not grant permission to work unless it is an important part of the training program. Off-campus employment approval must be requested from the INS through the ISS office.

For more information regarding international student employment, contact the International Student Office in Cousins Hall, Room 226, or call their office at (361) 593-3317. You may also want to consult the Immigration and Naturalization Service ( web site.

This page was last updated on: September 28, 2015