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Employment while you study

Want to work while you’re in the U.S.? Here’s how.

If you hold a F-1 Visa, you are allowed to work in the United States when authorised by a designated school official, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

There are several categories of employment available as an F-1 student in U.S. On-campus employment is the most freely available, while off-campus employment must be related to your area of study and be authorised by the Designated School Official.

In order to work in the U.S., you need a Social Security number (SSN). However, you can still apply for jobs without an SSN and use the job offer to get a SSN after you are hired.

For more information on working in the U.S., visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website.

On-campus employment

Most international students are able to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus while school is in session. This might include work performed on the school's premises directly for the school or for an on-location commercial firm (such as the school's bookstore or cafeteria).

You should seek guidance and approval from your school's International Student Office prior to accepting employment.

During extended holidays, breaks and summer sessions, you can work full time (up to 40 hours per week).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

If you've been enrolled at a college or university in the US on a full time basis for at least one full academic year, you may be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is employment that is an integral part of your major curriculum and allows you to participate in an internship, practicum or cooperative education program. You must receive course credit for your work and the CPT must be completed before you graduate.

Working after you graduate

If you want to stay and work in the U.S. after you finish your study, you’ll need to get a new visa first. Navigating through the U.S. immigration process is often challenging as there are many visas and the eligibility requirements, and legal rulings are constantly changing. For more information on working in the U.S. after graduation, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website.

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