GEO advises on employment eligibility and facilitates work authorization for F-1 and J-1 international students.

International students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Below is a brief explanation about each type of employment authorization. Because individual circumstances vary, students are encouraged to make an appointment to discuss work authorization.

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. 

On-Campus Employment

As an F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor, you are eligible for part-time on-campus employment from day one of your program. You can pursue this employment opportunity without prior approval from GEO. “On-campus employment" includes office jobs with any on-campus department or office, teaching assistant positions, or work at a university-affiliated business such as Jo’s coffee shop, the on-campus post office, or the bookstore. You must apply for a Social Security Number before you start working, and should see GEO as soon as you have a job offer so that we may guide you through this process.

Off-Campus Employment

After the first academic year (two consecutive semesters), international students may engage in three types of off-campus employment:​

  • F-1: Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • F-1: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • J-1: Academic Training (AT)

F-1: Optional Practical Training (OPT)

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 this information and then contact your GEO International Student Advisor at least 3-4 months before the desired start-date of your employment.​

Types of OPT:

  1. Pre-Completion OPT: Any portion of OPT used before the student’s program end date. It may be part-time or full-time.​
  2. Post-Completion OPT: Any portion of OPT used after the student’s Program End Date. It must be full-time.​
  3. 17-month (STEM) OPT Extension: For students who majored in designated STEM degrees approved by DHS. This type of OPT is a 17-month extension of OPT.​
  4. Cap-Gap OPT Extension: For students whose prospective employers filed a qualifying H-1B-cap subject petition.

Eligibility for OPT

  • Maintain Active F-1 Status​
  • Meet the one academic year enrollment requirement
  • Seek employment directly related to your major area of study
  • Students may only be authorized for 12 months of practical training at each level of study. 

Previous work impacts your eligibility for OPT in the following ways:​

  • Part-time pre-completion OPT counts at half the rate, e.g. 6 months of part-time OPT only deducts 3 months from total available 12 months.​
  • If you do more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you will be ineligible for OPT.​
  • Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.

For more information about the application process, including timeline and a list of required documents, please download the forms below.

Pre-completion OPT Handout

Post-completion OPT Handout

OPT Acknowledgement Form

F-1: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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. Please note that if you engage in more that 12 months of full-time CPT, you will ineligible for OPT. Part-time CPT, however, does not affect your eligibility for OPT. See your GEO advisor at least one month before you would like to being your internship.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Handout

CPT Request Form

J-1: Academic Training (AT)

Academic Training (AT) is work authorization that allows J-1 students to work in the U.S. in a job or internship related to their field of study. This authorization requires approval by either SEU or ISEP and by the student's home university. While AT can be done during or after you finish your exchange program, GEO recommends you not start any employment on AT until you have been in the U.S for at least two months.

J-1 Work Authorization Handout

Academic Training Request Form