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  • Employment Options for F-1 Students

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    Employment opportunities for foreign students in the U.S. are restricted by law. In general there are two types of employment: on-campus and off-campus employment.

    On-Campus Employment:

    Enrolled F-1 students may work on the campus of their educational institutions. If you are in F-1 status, while classes are in session during the fall or spring semesters or if you are registered during the summer, you may work ONLY 20 hours per week. During your vacation periods you may work full time (which is any amount over 20 per week in immigration law), for instance in summer if you are NOT registered, or 2-3 weeks at the end of the summer if you are registered during the summer, or during winter break.


    • no need for an Employment Authorization Document
    • no special application procedure required
    • is not subtracted from your 12-month practical training after completion of study
    • does not need to be related to your field of study
    • you may begin working as soon as you are a student


    • limited to on-campus employment opportunities

    Off-campus Employment

    After having been in F-1 status for at one full academic year, you are eligible to apply for off-campus employment in your field of studies. This could be full-time during the summer and the winter semester break, or part-time (limited to 20 hours of total employment per week, including any on-campus work) during the academic year. There are two types of off campus work authorization called "practical training": Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.

    Other rare types of F-1 work authorization

    Working for International Organizations:

    Very occasionally, students will be offered an internship with certain international organizations, for which F-1 students can apply for a spscial employment authorization document through USCIS. In MOST cases, there is an easier way than this for an F-1 student to get work authorization.


    • The employment is for an internship with a recognized international organization and is within the scope of the organization's sponsorship.
    • The student is in valid F-1 status at the time fo application

    To apply for EAD send the following to USCIS:

    • a written certification from the organization stating that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization's sponsorship
    • an I-20 with ISSO advisor recommendation from within the last 30 days
    • a completed Form I-765
    • application fee


    • does not have to be for-credit nor required for your degree program
    • does not take away from your 12-month practical training after completion of studies


    • must mail in your application to the USCIS with the fee
    • it takes at least 2-3 months to get the approval

    Severe Economic Hardship work authorization:

    According to the Immigration regulations, an F-1 student may apply for off-campus employment work authorization based upon "severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control."[8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)]. One challenge in getting this type of work authorization, is that students most clearly demonstrate that there has been a major change in their funding from the time they demonstrated the ability to pay for their Cornell education when first obtaining an I-20 from Cornell.

    Speak to an advisor at the ISSO for more information on applying for work authorization based on severe economic hardship.