Employment

In certain circumstances, F-1 international students are eligible to work in the United States with prior authorization and according to strict regulations. An F-1 student's primary purpose for being in the United States is to complete their academic degree, and any employment must not interfere with their studies. F-1 students CANNOT accept a job offer or begin employment until they have received their employment authorization. This includes any training, orientations, or mandatory meetings which are required for the job. Below is information regarding the employment categories for F-1 students.

On-Campus Employment | Optional Practical Training (OPT) | Curricular Practical Training (CPT) | Economic Hardship

On-Campus Employment

Eligibility

An F-1 student may work on campus while enrolled at the College of Central Florida. The work does not need to be related to your program of study (major). You must maintain legal F-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment. Special authorization from USCIS is not required if you are in a valid F-1 status and pursuing a full course of study. You may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. You must maintain your F-1 status to be eligible for this benefit and you may not continue employment after graduation, during the 60-day grace period or once you have transferred to another school.

Federal Regulation [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i)]

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment includes jobs that are physically located on the CF campus, either working directly for CF or an on-location commercial firm which provides services for students on-campus, such as the Barnes and Noble school bookstore. 

F-1 students are not eligible for federally funded “work-study” positions. CF makes no guarantee of job availability and hiring is determined by each department or office. This authorization is for on-campus employment only. 

Federal Regulation [8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(i)]

Searching for a Job
To prepare for your on-campus job search, you may want to update your resume and practice your interview skills. For resume assistance, workshops, practice interviews, and information about unpaid internships visit the Talent Center in Building 42, Room 101.

The following is a partial list of areas of campus you may wish to contact:

Conference Services – Ewers Century Center, Room 106
Barnes & Noble Bookstore – Building 36, Room 101
Athletics – Building 6, Room 106
Learning Resources Center (Library) and Tutoring – Building 3, Room 104
Student Services (Testing) – Bryant Student Union, Room 205
Math Lab – Building 7, Room 106
Marketing and Public Relations – Ewers Century Center, Room 102
TRIO Lab – Building 2, Room 207
Webber Center Gallery – Webber Center
Student Life – Building 11
Public Safety – Next to Bryant Student Union
Child Development Center/Learning Lab School – Building 18
Access Services – Bryant Student Union, Room 204

When calling about a job, remember to identify yourself as an F-1 international student. You may also want to visit offices, introduce yourself, and drop off your resume.

Final Steps 

If you need a Social Security Number:
When you have found an employer that would like to offer you on-campus employment, you must request a written job offer letter. When you receive a job offer in writing, bring the letter to International Student Services to complete additional paperwork. If you need a social security number, ISS will provide you with documentation and instructions for applying for a social security number. The Social Security Office is located at 933 E. Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, Florida 34470 (call 1-877-626-9911 for hours). After you receive your social security number, visit Human Resources in Founders Hall, Room 104, to complete additional paperwork. You will also need to go online to CF.edu/HR to complete a Part-Time Student Application. 

Sample Written Job Offer Letter

If you already have a Social Security Number:
If you have not done so already, you must complete a Part-Time Student Application online at CF.edu/HR. When you have found an employer that would like to offer you on-campus employment, bring your written job offer letter to ISS and visit the Human Resources in Founders Hall, Room 104, to complete additional paperwork.

Frequently Asked Questions about On-Campus Employment

(Q) How many hours can I work?
(A) You are only allowed to up to 20 hours per week. 

(Q) What if I have two on-campus jobs? Can I work up to 20 hours at each?
(A) No. If you have multiple jobs on campus, you are still limited to 20 hours total for all jobs on campus. 

(Q) My supervisor said I can work more than 20 hours. Can I do it since they said it’s ok?
(A) No. You are responsible for following the restrictions of your F-1 student visa. When you are caught exceeding the number of permissible hours, your I-20 will be terminated and you will be out-of-status. Always check with your Designated School Official (DSO) to make sure you are always following your visa restrictions. 

(Q) What if I transfer to new school?
(A) You work permission will end on your transfer date (the date your SEVIS record is transferred to your new school). You must stop work before that date. 

(Q) What if my I-20 is terminated or I lose my F-1 student status?
(A) If you do not maintain your F-1 student visa, your work authorization as an F-1 will also end. If your I-20 is terminated, you will lose your F-1 status and must stop work immediately.

(Q) What if I get married, or change my immigration status to a Permanent Resident?
(A) If you are no longer an F-1 student, you must show CF’s Human Resources Office your Employment Authorization Card (EAD). F-1 students do not need an EAD card to work on-campus part-time, but other immigration categories do. 

(Q) What counts as “on-campus” employment?
(A) On-campus employment includes jobs that are physically located on the CF campus, either working directly for CF or an on-location commercial firm which provides services for students on campus, such as the Barnes & Noble school bookstore. This does NOT include jobs working for companies that may temporarily conduct work activities on the campus but are primarily located in offices off campus, such as a construction company, church organization, blood bank, etc.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is OPT? 
According to immigration regulation 8C.F.R. 214.2 (f) (10) (ii)(A), post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization directly related to an F-1 student's field of study. OPT is available to students who have been enrolled in one full academic year and have applied for graduation of their associate degree program. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. 

When to apply for OPT 
Initial proof of employment is not required to apply for OPT and the application for post-completion OPT can be filed as early as 90 days prior to graduation, but has to be received by the adjudicating Service Center no later than 60 days after graduation. Applications received at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the 60-day grace period will be rejected. We recommend filing OPT as early as possible: for spring graduates by the end of February; for Summer graduates in the beginning of June; for fall graduates by the end of September.

Who is Eligible? 
To apply for OPT, you must: 

  • Be in legal, active F-1 immigration status
  • Be a full-time student for at least one full academic year at CF
  • Have current health insurance on file with CF
  • Have applied for graduation in one of CF’s associate or bachelor degree programs, and have completed all degree requirements, or will complete degree requirements by start of OPT
  • Have not previously used 12 months of more of OPT work authorization
  • Have not previously used 12 months or more of full-time CPT work authorization 

Documentation Needed 
To apply for OPT, you must schedule an appointment with CF International Student Services and bring the following documents: 

  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)b) at item 16. Do not sign the form until you are ready to send the application to USCIS.
  • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic I-94 from https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-94
  • Copy of your passport and F-1 visa page
  • Copy of your unofficial transcript available from your myCF student portal https://mycf.cf.edu/ics
  • Copy of your proof of insurance

Submitting Your Application to USCIS
Once you have gathered the documents above, make an appointment to meet with International Student Services and bring your copies with you. If you are eligible to apply for OPT, you will then submit the documents listed above, as well as:

  • A copy of the new SEVIS I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 2 signed by your DSO which will be provided to you at the meeting.
  • $410 fee paid by check or money order and made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Put photos in an envelope. Do not staple the fee or the photos.
  • Make copies of all items to keep with your records. 

Mailing to USCIS

Send your complete application to USCIS at the following location. When mailing, it is highly recommended that you use express mail, such as UPS, FedEx or DHL, and get a tracking number. 

For Express Mail Services (FedEx, UPS, DHL): 

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067


For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries, mail to:

USCIS
 P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address.

Processing Time
OPT application can take up to 90-120 days to be processed. Employment cannot begin until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and the start date on EAD has arrived.

Maximum Length of OPT
The maximum OPT period is 12 months. Associate degrees are not eligible for 17 month STEM extension. CF bachelor degrees are not eligible for 17 month STEM extension. 

Periods of Unemployment
Although a job offer is not required to apply for OPT, students authorized for OPT cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days cumulative. Students on OPT are required by immigration regulations to report their OPT employment information to CF’s International Student Services Office. 

Approval and your Employment Authorization Card (EAD)
If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing but you may not appeal. The fee is nonrefundable. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD. Authorization is granted for up to 12 months maximum. The employment authorization is automatically terminated if you transfer from one school to another one or if you fail to maintain status. 

Evidence of Employment

You must maintain evidence for each job documenting the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the student's supervisor or manager, and a description of the work. If it is not clear from the job description that the work is related to your degree, SEVP recommends that you obtain a signed letter from your supervisor stating how your degree is related to the work performed.

90 Day Unemployment Limit

Once your OPT is approved, you may not accumulate more than 90 days total of unemployment or you will lose your F-1 status and OPT authorization. During the period of OPT authorization, each day that you do not have qualified employment counts as one day of unemployment.

Traveling on OPT 

Students with Approved OPT

If you must travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, be aware that you must be very careful about having all required documents with you in order to re-enter the US. You must carry your original I-20 (with signatures on page 3) and EAD card for re-entry. Additionally, evidence of a job offer or letter of employment may be required.

Student with a Pending OPT Application

It is highly recommended that you do not travel outside the U.S. while your application for OPT is pending approval. To seek re-entry into the U.S., you must have your I-20 (with signatures on page 3). Additionally, evidence of actively seeking employment may be required. You should also have your original OPT application receipt notice as proof of your pending OPT application. Travel and re-entry in this status is not recommended. 

Reporting Requirements
Students who have completed their degree and have pending or approved OPT applications must report the following:

1) Change of address (within 10 days of moving)
2) Change in legal name
3) The student’s employer and employer’s address
4) Any period of unemployment 

Students on OPT must maintain approved health insurance coverage that is valid and submit current proof of coverage to CF while on OPT.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is CPT?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, such as an internship, cooperative education, or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with CF. 

Examples:

MAN 4940 Internship in Business and Organizational Management
EEC 4940 Internship in Early Childhood
HIM 1949 Health Information Tech Practicum

Part Time

  • 20 hours or less per week.
  • Does not affect OPT eligibility. 
  • Allowed during the fall and spring semester.

Full Time

  • 21-40 hour per week
  • Allowed during the summer semester.
  • During the summer semester, the combined total of all hours work, both on-campus and off-campus, cannot exceed 40 hours per week.
  • Students who use full-time CPT for 12 months or more are not eligible to apply for OPT.

Full Time Enrollment
If you are approved for CPT, you must still maintain full time enrollment in the fall and spring semesters, unless it is your last semester. Students who are in their final semester, may register part-time (at least 6 credits) for their last semester before graduation. CPT employment must not delay completion of the academic program, and extensions will not be approved for students to complete CPT employment.

Who is eligible?
Students must be in valid F-1 status for CPT. Students must have been in full-time F-1 status for one full academic year before applying for CPT.

What type employment is eligible?
Employment must be an integral part of the student's curriculum and related to the student's field of study. The employment must be a mandatory requirement of your academic program, for example a mandatory internship or practicum that is required for all students in your program. CPT employment must be officially registered on the student's schedule and/or transcripts.

Application and Approval
Unlike OPT, you must have employer information available before you can be approved for CPT. If approved, you will be given a new I-20 with CPT authorization listed on Page 2. You cannot begin employment until you receive your new I-20. CPT is approved for one semester at a time only. You may only work during the approved dates listed on your I-20 under the CPT authorization. At the end of the semester, if you wish to continue CPT employment, you must get a new I-20 with CPT authorization.

While on CPT
You may only work within the approved dated listed on your I-20.
You may only work for the authorized employer listed on your I-20.
You must maintain full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters, unless your are graduating.

Economic Hardship

If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include a loss of financial support or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]

Eligibility Criteria
You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control

NOTE: You are required to have approved health insurance while in F-1 status, even if you are experiencing economic hardship. 

Documentation Needed to Apply
To apply for employment based on severe economic hardship, you must schedule an appointment with CF International Student Services and bring the following documents:

  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc.
  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic I-94 Form from https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-94
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page
  • Copy of your unofficial transcript available from MyCF https://mycf.cf.edu/ics

Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Application to USCIS
Once you have met with your advisor and received your new I-20, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

  • A copy of the new SEVIS I-20 with employment recommendation on page 3 signed by your DSO
  • Copies of your previous I-20(s)
  • Copy or print-out of electronic I-94 Form from https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-94
  • Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
  • Copy of your F-1 visa
  • Form I-765 and the filing fee (money order or cashier’s check is recommended)
  • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Put photos in an envelope. Do not staple the fee and the photos.
  • The personal statement along with any other supporting documents, if available.
  • Make copies of all items to keep with your records.

Mailing to USCIS
Send your complete request to USCIS at the following location. When mailing, it is recommended that you use express mail and get a tracking number. 

Mailing to USCIS

Send your complete application to USCIS at the following location. When mailing, it is highly recommended that you use express mail, such as UPS, FedEx or DHL, and get a tracking number. 

For Express Mail Services (FedEx, UPS, DHL): 

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries, mail to:

USCIS
 P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address.

Employment Authorization Card
If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing but you may not appeal. The fee is nonrefundable. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You are allowed to work part time with the EAD when school is in session but you must be enrolled as a full-time student. You may work full time with the EAD during vacations. The employment does not have to be related to course of study and it does not count towards the 20-hour on campus maximum. The EAD may be renewed only if you are maintaining status and are in good academic standing. The employment authorization is automatically terminated if you transfer from one school to another one or if you fail to maintain status.

International Students

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