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Immigration regulations restrict employment eligibility for F-1 and J-1 students. You should verify that you have the appropriate authorization before engaging in any form of employment. For immigration purposes, employment is defined as the exchange of services for any form of compensation, monetary or otherwise. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of your immigration status and may result in the termination of your immigration status.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students may both work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and more than 20 hours per week during the vacation term and approved university breaks. J-1 students must request an employment authorization letter from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) or their program sponsor before beginning work on-campus. If DU is not your program sponsor, you will need to request a letter directly from your J-1 sponsor.

Off-Campus Employment

Students in F-1 or J-1 immigration status must receive prior authorization from ISSS (or the program sponsor, if different, for J-1 students) or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to engaging in off-campus employment. The type of employment authorization you may receive will depend on the nature of the employment, your immigration status, and the relationship of the employment to your academic program.

Max Duration
Authorized by
F-1 CPT * None
Required or integral internship prior to completion of studies
F-1 OPT * 12 months per degree level
Practical training in field of study, generally following completion of studies
F-1 OPT Extension for STEM Majors 17 additional months of OPT. May only be used once
Extension of OPT benefit for students who completed degrees in qualifying STEM fields.
H-1B Cap-Gap Extension 6 months (for employment with companies subject to the H-1B cap)
Extension of OPT benefit to cover gap between end of OPT and start of requested/approved H-1B status.
J-1 Academic Training 18 months total for UG + Master's, 36 months for doctoral degree. Given for max amount allowed or duration of program, whichever is less.
Program Sponsor
Internship/practical training in field of study before or after completion of studies
Economic Hardship None. Given in one-year increments

USCIS or Program Sponsor

Work authorization in unforeseen financial situations

* For more information on F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), you can attend one of our F-1 Employment workshops which are held throughout the year.

Volunteer Work and Unpaid Internships

F-1 and J-1 students may engage in unpaid volunteer activities, provided they receive no compensation for their services and the position is not one that would normally be paid. Unpaid internships may qualify as volunteer work and may not require a Curricular Practical Training or Academic Training authorization. If you are unsure if an unpaid job experience qualifies as volunteer work, please meet with an international student advisor to discuss the opportunity prior to beginning work.


F-2 dependents (spouse and children) are not permitted to work on or off campus, but they may engage in volunteer work for which no compensation is received. J-2 dependents may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through USCIS for employment authorization in one-year increments. An EAD may be used for on- or off-campus employment.