Can International Students Work in the USA?

As you may know, the United States has a very sophisticated immigration system with lots of different types of visas and restrictions that vary. Most often, students enter with visas permitting them to work part-time. If you are a holder of F1 visa work is allowed 20 hours per week mostly on campus.


Employment Rules and Opportunities for International Students in USA

So, if your question is “Are international students authorized to work in the US?” - it means you are serious about studying abroad and relocating. In that case, knowing all employment rules and opportunities for international students in USA is a must for you.

Most students enter the U.S. with F1 visas that allow certain kinds of employment:

  • On-campus employment (the most popular option).

  • Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training.

  • Students with F1 visas experiencing severe economic hardship as defined by USCIS may also look for part-time jobs for international students in the USA in fields other than their majors.

  • Employment with international organizations.

On-Campus Employment for International Students in USA

On-campus employment for international students in USA is freely available to all students. It’s less bureaucratic and requires no USCIS approval. However, on-campus employment opportunities are always limited. Such jobs are hard to get, they are often not related to your major, and schools can hardly pay you enough.

Some schools require a work permit for international students in USA issued by International Student Office. To top that off, some institutions might not even let first-year students to get employed at all. The number of positions is scarce, and sometimes students have to compete to get employed.

Getting on-campus jobs for F1 students in USA is a tough issue. The preference is always given to a U.S. resident. As a foreigner, your status is always contingent on your school’s support. That means you are dependent on the International Student Office and USCIC, even when it comes to on-campus employment.

If you wonder “Can F1 student work online?” the answer is also complicated. During your first year at school, no freelance work is allowed. F1 students can only engage in on-campus work. Starting from the second year of studies, a student can perform freelance and self-employment projects if they are related to their field of knowledge.

Off-Campus Employment for International Students in USA

Most study and work in USA programs mean either on-campus or off-campus employment rather than a proper full-time or part-time job. Many international students would agree that getting legit F1 visa jobs is quite a challenge.

Off-campus employment for international students in USA is associated with a huge bureaucratic load. Having two options – Curricular (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) – students with F1 visas have to get approval from USCIS before taking the job. Also, permission from the schools’ International Student Office is required.

An international student work permit shouldn’t in any way displace a U.S. citizen. That’s why international students working in US are true heroes who agreed to go through bureaucratic hell.

Apart from CPT and OPT, student work visa usa is provided to those who can prove that their economic condition requires them to work. This is called ‘severe economic hardship’ as defined by USCIS. Students eligible for it can work 20 hours a week off-campus. They, however, should have good academic standing, provide evidence to their situation, and make an effort to find on-campus employment.



One more option for off-campus employment that lets students work and study is employment with an international organization. In this case, students with F1 visas must be affiliated with one of the recognized international organizations. Their involvement is qualified as an internship or employment if it is within their field of study and meets the scope of the organization’s duties. Students are not limited in working hours if they are sponsored by an international organization. However, they must be in good academic standing.

Curricular Practical Training for International Students in USA

Curricular Practical Training for international students in USA is a part of the established curriculum or program. Such employment is usually required for degrees or certain academic credits. In other words, CPT is a kind of employment that is incorporated within the educational process.

Even though F1 student visa work is required by the curriculum, you still need to be authorized by the International Student Office first. A notice should be sent to USCIS, too. Only students holding F1 visas are allowed for CPT.

Student F1 visa work requirements are to be followed in full during CPT. That means a job for international student in USA can be approved if it is an integral part of the studying process and remains within a student’s field of study. No deviation is allowed.

Optional Practical Training for International Students in USA

Optional Practical Training for international students in USA is an employment option that can be granted to students during or after completion of their degree. This is a real chance to work and study in America, but it also requires lots of approvals and paperwork.

First, students with OPT status have to be authorized to work by USCIS and a school’s International Student Office. This Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can be issued only to a student only after they finish their first year of studying. You should apply for EAD before you start accepting job offers. It usually takes 90 days for USCIS to process your application.

With this permission, job seekers have access to a wider pool of job opportunities for international students in USA. However, the preference should be given to positions related to the field of studies. Moreover, before graduating, students with EAD can work 20 hours a week. After completion of the coursework, they can be offered a full-time position for a maximum of 14 months.

As you can see, the question “Can you get a student visa USA work?” isn’t an easy one. Student jobs in the US are associated with lots of bureaucratic procedures and organizational requirements.

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