Visa Compliance

Employment for F-1 Students

F-1 regulations regarding employment are very strict. If you wish to work in the United States, please visit International Education before you begin working to discuss your options. Do not begin working until you receive proper authorization.

On-Campus Employment

Eligibility

You may apply for on-campus employment immediately after enrolling at MICA. All F-1 students are eligible.

Type of Work

Any on-campus job that is not Federal Work Study. Paychecks must be issued by MICA.

Amount of Work

You may work part-time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session or any number of hours during vacation periods.

Authorization

If you attend school full time and maintain your visa status, authorization for on-campus employment is included in your F-1 status. You do not need to seek authorization from the International Education office.


Off-Campus Employment

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (C.P.T.) is the program for F-1 students through which you may be authorized to work off-campus in the United States before you graduate.  Work that is part of this program must be credit-bearing practical training that is part of your course or degree.

All students seeking to work off campus should attend an F-1 Internship Orientation co-hosted by International Education and Career Development.  

Eligibility

  • After you attend a U.S. college full time as an F-1 student for at least two consecutive semesters in good academic standing, you may apply for C.P.T.
  • MICA undergraduates are only eligible for C.P.T. through internships. Before you can begin to work, you must obtain approval for an internship from MICA's Career Development office, register for the academic credits at MICA during the same semester that you plan to intern, and obtain approval for C.P.T. on your I-20 from MICA's International Education office.

Type of Work

  • The C.P.T. employment must meet a requirement of your degree program (for example, an internship).
  • Authorization is for a single employer or job. You must seek separate C.P.T. authorization for each job. Self-employment is not permitted on C.P.T.

Amount of Work

  • You may work part-time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session or any number of hours (full or part-time) during vacation periods.

Authorization

  • C.P.T. authorization is granted by the Office of International Education and registered with the U.S. government. Be sure to apply to International Education at least three weeks before your intended employment start date.  Authorization is only for the C.P.T. dates and employer printed on your I-20. You are not eligible to work until your I-20 is authorized for the C.P.T. employment and the authorized start date has been reached.
  • You will show your employer the C.P.T. authorization on your I-20 as proof of your employment eligibility.
  • You must be enrolled in the academic credits at the same time that you complete the C.P.T. work. (For example, if you complete an internship in the summer, you must register for summer credits.)

Reporting Requirements

  • Students on C.P.T. must report to International Education if they end their authorized C.P.T. employment early or if they wish to discuss their options regarding extending or changing their employment.

Application

  • Please meet with your counselor in the MICA Office of Career Development to complete your MICA Internship Learning Contract.  The successful completion and approval of this application will enable International Education to create your C.P.T. I-20
  • Please enroll in internship credits. Internship credits must be on your transcript during the semester in which your work takes place.

Employment After Graduation

Optional Practical Training

(For practical training in your field of study.)

The information below relates to post-completion O.P.T. For information about pre-completion O.P.T. please speak with International Education staff.

Please also review the O.P.T. handout on our Resources page.

Eligibility

After attending school full time for at least two consecutive semesters as an F-1 student in good academic standing, you may apply for O.P.T. Semester exchange students are not eligible.

Type of Work

  • O.P.T. jobs must be in your field of study and require your level of education.
  • You may work for more than one employer on O.P.T. Self-employment is permitted, but note that you must carefully follow all appropriate business and tax laws related to self-employment.

Unemployment During O.P.T.

  • Those approved for O.P.T. are permitted to be unemployed for a total of 90 days during their entire O.P.T. term.
  • Days unemployed add up in between positions worked and before you start working.
  • Days that count toward unemployment accrual include those wherein you have been working part-time, i.e. under 20 hours/week
  • You are encouraged to keep track of your days unemployed.
  • As soon as you reach 90 days of unemployment, you are expected to either leave the USA or otherwise change your immigration status.

Amount of Work

  • O.P.T. is limited to a total of 12 months for each degree level (B.F.A., M.F.A., M.A., or M.A.T.). You will receive an additional 12 months if you begin a new degree program at a higher level (for example, if you complete a B.F.A. and begin an M.F.A.).
  • Your F-1 status and O.P.T. employment authorization will automatically be extended if you are the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B petition requesting a change of status and an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year. This benefit applies to all students on O.P.T.

Authorization

  • O.P.T. authorization is granted by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). MICA's Office of International Education will help you to apply. Authorization is usually given but is not guaranteed. The government usually takes two or three months to process O.P.T. applications, so be sure to apply early.
  • O.P.T. applications require an application fee (currently $380).
  • You are not eligible to work until you receive notification of your O.P.T. authorization card and the authorized start date on the card is reached.
  • The government must receive your O.P.T. application before the end of the 60-day grace period following your last day of class or exams.
  • You must send your application to USCIS within 30 days of the International Education O.P.T. recommendation. You should make an appointment with International Education. Please bring your completed application and all required documents with you to this appointment. International Education will create your new I-20 that will include the O.P.T. recommendation. Please note that you cannot apply more than 90 days before your program completion date (listed on your I-20). If you do, your application will be denied.
  • Overseas travel while waiting for O.P.T. authorization is not recommended.

Reporting Requirements

Students must report the following information on the SEVP Portal within 10 days of any changes:

  • Your U.S. address
  • Name of employer
  • Address of employer
  • Start date
  • Hours worked per week
  • End date of employment
  • Your decision to depart the U.S. and end your O.P.T. early

After O.P.T.

Students who work throughout O.P.T. (without reaching their 90 days of unemployment threshold) have several options at the end of their O.P.T. authorization period.

  • Plan to leave the USA? Students on O.P.T. are permitted to remain in the U.S. for 60 days following their O.P.T. end date.   They will not be permitted to work or study during this time.
  • Planning further study in the U.S.?  Please arrange to transfer your SEVIS record within 60 days after the end of O.P.T. to your new degree program.
  • Employer sponsoring your U.S. work visa? Work with your employer and immigration lawyers to change your immigration status.