Work Authorization for International Students
This page will help you learn the basics of the work authorization process. The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously. Do not accept or begin any employment without first contacting GEO to discuss eligibility and authorization requirements.
These are general requirements that apply to all work authorizations. The type of work authorization you need depends on the type of job you have, so it is important to understand your options ahead of time. Read more about each type of work authorization below.
Off-campus employment authorization such as CPT, OPT, or AT is only available to students that have completed at least one full academic year (two consecutive semesters) of their program of study. See the tabs below for more information about off-campus employment.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including but not limited to internships or practicum courses that require employment. Students must be full-time enrolled for two consecutive semesters before they are eligible to apply for CPT. See your GEO advisor at least one month before you begin your internship.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Handout
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is one type of work permission available to eligible F-1 students. It allows you to be employed in a job related to your major for up to 12 months at each education level – Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD –before graduation (Pre-completion OPT), after graduation (post-completion OPT), or a combination thereof. Complex rules and guidelines dictate your eligbibiliy for OPT. Carefully review the information presented here, then contact your GEO immigration advisor at least 3-4 months before the desired start-date of your employment.
Types of OPT:
Eligibility for OPT
Previous work impacts your eligibility for OPT in the following ways:
Maintain Status While on OPT
Academic Training (AT) is work authorization that allows J-1 students to work in the USA in a job or internship related to their field of study. This authorization requires approval by both SEU or ISEP and the student's home university. While AT can be done during or after you finish your exchange program, GEO recommends that you not start any employment on AT until you have been in the U.S for at least 2 months.
Academic Training Handout