Skip navigation
International Student and Scholar Services

International Student & Scholar Services


Federal immigration regulations limit employment for F-1 and J-1 students: the kind of employment, the number of hours per week and the periods of employment. You should verify that you have authorization before beginning in any form of employment. 

definition of employment

For immigration purposes, employment is the exchange of services for any form of compensation, monetary or otherwise. Compensation can be hourly pay, a stipend, a tuition waiver, reduced rent, or a bus pass.

unauthorized employment

Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of immigration status and may result in the termination of immigration status or the loss of future immigration benefits. If an ISSS advisor has knowledge of the violation, they are obligated by federal regulation to terminate the student’s SEVIS record and legal status in the U.S.

If you have concerns about a violation of status, consult an immigration attorney (

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 24 additional months of OPT.
Extension of OPT benefit for students who completed Bachelors, Masters or PhD 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.