Employment for International Students


Know the rules of Employment for F1 and J1 Visa

Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is restricted, and working without permission is a violation of your I-20 and VISA status and is a deportable offense. F-1 and J-1 students should NOT work off-campus without permission from ODIA.  On-Campus Employment is permitted with certain restrictions .  Students must complete employment paperwork with ODIA and the employing On-Campus Department in order to work on-campus. A Social Security number is required for anyone receiving payment (SSN number can be obtained during this process). ODIA can assist you with this progression.

ODIA provides workshops at the beginning of every semester which explains the different types of on-campus and off-campus work permission available to F-1 and J-1 students. Theses workshops are MANDATORY for international students to gain full understanding of this process.

For further questions, please contact our office @ 615-963-5640 or stop by our office; ODIA, Room 106 - Crouch Hall 

  On-Campus Employment

General Application Process for F1 and J1 VISA

    • Request a letter from the On-Campus Department/Vendor that will be employing you. 
    • Print out the Social Security form, from the website. click here
    • Request a letter from ODIA verifying the SEVIS status.
    • When the ODIA letter is created, you will be informed via phone or email.
    • Get the letter from the ODIA office and contact Social Security Office for appointment (Social Security office details are listed below)
    • Take your documents to Social Security office.  If transportation is required please contact ODIA for more information
    • You will get a letter/receipt indicating that you have applied for a Social Security Number.
    • Take the SSA letter/receipt to ODIA and complete the I-9 and W-4.
    • Pick up the I-9 and W-4 (this may take upto 3-4 days) and take them to your employing department.

Off - Campus Employment

F1 VISA - Employment types

Students may be employed at the beginning in their first semester.  Employment with an international organization does not affect the student's OPT eligibility.  Students must maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year.  Employment authorization may be granted for one year and is renewable.

Process for Internship

  • Request the I-20 by seeing an adviser in ODIA during walk-in hours
  • You will need to provide ODIA with written verification of the employment by the qualifying international organization in order to issue an I-20 for the internship
  • Within 30 days of the recommendation by ODIA on your new I-20, you must apply to the US government for employment authorization. The application will take approximately 90 days to process. ODIA does not approve employment applications nor can we speed up or otherwise intervene in the process by the government. It is also very difficult to cancel an application once it has been mailed to USCIS, so make sure of your plans before you apply.

See our office for further details.

Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular practical training (CPT), employment is an essential part of an established curriculum, and is available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year. Students in English language programs are NOT eligible for practical training.

To be considered for CPT, the job or internship must not only be related to the major field of study but must also be an essential or important part of the course.

Requirements for CPT

  • Required for the Course or Degree Program ( this can be verified with your adviser )
  • During the Semester CPT can be only Part-Time. Part-Time is 20 hours per week ( You may NOT work above 20 hours if the semester is in session, this will violate your legal status)
  • During the Vacation periods CPT can be done for Full-Time. Full-Time is 40 hours per week

Process for CPT

  • Gets the letter from the employer on the employer’s letterhead indicating the (1) job title, (2) exact start and end dates of employment, (3) # of hours of work per week, (4) place of employment, and (5) a brief description of duties.
  • List the name of the course that will cover the internship.
  • Your request will be forwarded to your academic adviser for verification.
  • If approved by ODIA, a new I-20 will be created for you.

If all eligibility requirements are met, an international student adviser will authorize CPT on a new I-20. You must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your I-20 unless you apply for and are granted an extension of your permission to work.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

There are four types of OPT:

  • Post-Completion OPT is the most common type of OPT; It begins after the completion of a student’s degree program.
  • Pre-Completion OPT is for work opportunities during the degree program for which CPT is not an option.  This can include summer (as long as the student will return for fall semester) or during the academic year.
  • STEM extension OPT is a 17-month extension of Post-Completion OPT for students who completed a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and are working for employers enrolled in the e-verify program.
  • Cap-Gap OPT is a short extension of OPT to cover the period between the end of OPT and the beginning of H1-B, for those who have a pending/approved H1-B Change of Status petition.

To further assist you with your OPT questions please contact our office @ 615-963-5640 and schedule an appointment with our International Director Mr. Mark Gunter.

 J1 VISA - Employment Types

J1 employments are very limited and very restricted. Hence, to further assist you with your J1 VISA Employment questions please contact our office @ 615-963-5640 and schedule an appointment with our International Director Mr. Mark Gunter.



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