Home » Get Started » International Students » F-1 Employment


F-1 Employment

If you are an F-1 student, you and your dependents cannot work in the United States without permission from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is illegal for employers to hire an F-1 visa holder or their dependents without USCIS permission. The only exception to this law is work on-campus or work with prior authorization from USCIS.

If you or your dependents work without authorization and are caught, you and their F status will be terminated and reported in the SEVIS database. You will need to prepare for departure immediately. Do not work without authorization!

If you are interested in employment options, please review the information below and schedule an appointment with the International Admissions Coordinator to discuss.

On-Campus

F-1 students who are maintaining status may engage in on-campus employment.  Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.  Students may work full-time during vacation periods as long as they have maintained status and they intend to register the following semester.

To find out about institutional work-study positions that are available, you may contact Jennifer Pinckney in the Career and Employment Services Office at (843) 574-6119 for an appointment.

Prior to starting a position, please contact the International Admissions Coordinator for verification and authorization of on-campus employment.

Off-Campus

An F-1 student who has been enrolled for at least one academic year, has maintained F-1 status and is in good academic standing may apply for off-campus employment based on "economic hardship".

Off-campus employment is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond the student's control have created severe economic hardship. These may include:

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment - if it is not the student's fault;
  • Part-time on-campus employment opportunities are insufficient to meet student's financial needs or student is unable to find an on-campus position
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses;
  • Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for his or her sources of financial support;
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance; or
  • Other substantial, unexpected expenses.

If you believe you are experiencing economic hardship, please schedule an appointment with the International Admissions Coordinator to discuss your situation. Do not apply for work authorization with USCIS without consulting with the International Admissions Coordinator and getting a recommendation on the I-20 first.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year are eligible for Optional Practical Training.  Employment must be in the student's field of study and for the purpose of gaining practical experience.  Students are eligible for a maximum of twelve months for all practical training.  Students do not get twelve months practical training for each degree sought.

Students may apply for authorization for OPT training directly related to their field of study and commensurate with their educational level [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(D)(1)] in the following cases:

  • During the student's annual vacation as long as the student intends to register for the next semester at current school  (it is recommended that students have a job offer before applying)
  • While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed twenty hours a week (it is recommended that students have a job before applying)
  • After completion of course requirements except for thesis, project, or portfolio (it is recommended that students have a job offer before applying)
  • After completion of the course of study (this type of practical training should be applied for before completion of the program).

If you are interested in applying for Optional Practical Training, please schedule an appointment with the International Admissions Coordinator to discuss your options. Do not apply for work authorization with USCIS without consulting with the International Admissions Coordinator and getting a recommendation on the I-20 first.