Employment prospects in the USA
Want to work while you’re in the U.S.? Here’s how.
If you hold an 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.
Working as a student
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.
A student visa generally allows 20 hours of work in a week. However, check the inclusions on your visa before you start working.
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.
You can work on-campus as a teaching assistant, university bookstore assistant, barista, academic department assistant, or as any other help that your school allows for up to 20 hours in a week. On-campus openings are usually updated on the college job board, campus student centre or the college portal online. Contact your university career services office for more information about the openings.
- Internship programs Nearly every university has a system to ensure that every student gets an internship during their studies. In fact, some also have internship programs as a part of extra-curricular activities which is mandatory for everyone to follow.
- Summer jobs Summer jobs are in abundance from June to September. Under summer jobs, you can undertake work at summer camps, hotels, theme parks, retail industry, cafes, etc.
- Skill-based jobs
International students with skills are always in high demand in the American job market. If you are an undergraduate and have any specialised skill, you have a bright chance to get a part-time job in America.
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 with different visa types, their eligibility criteria and changing legalities.
There are a few common visa options which are most applicable to graduates.
Practical training on an F-1 Visa
Under this visa, you are entitled to up to one year of post-completion practical training. Authorisation for this type of practical training may be granted for a maximum of 12 months and starts once you have graduated or completed your course of study.
Non-immigrant H-1B Visa (Specialty occupation)
To obtain this classification, you need a U.S. employer to sponsor you, hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification, and the job responsibilities must be relevant to your education and work experience.
If you need more information on working in the U.S., visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website. Your IDP counsellor can also guide you on your employment-related queries. Walk in at our Colombo office for a free session.