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F-1 Students: Learn the Rules for Summer Employment and Training

June 15, 2016

If you are an F-1 international student who wants to train, intern or work this summer, your first step is to talk to your designated school official (DSO).

It is illegal to work in the United States without authorization, so it is important that you speak with your DSO to make sure you follow the rules and maintain your student status.

The summer training and work opportunities available to you depend on what type of authorization you have or apply for, and whether you are eligible to take annual vacation.

Practical Training Opportunities

F-1 students at Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified colleges, universities, seminaries or conservatories can participate in summer practical training.

Curricular practical training (CPT) is a full-time or part-time training opportunity available during the school year or annual summer vacation. CPT can be authorized by your DSO but must be part of your academic program and be integral to your major field of study.

Pre-completion optional practical training (OPT) is another training option for F-1 students that can be full time during summer vacation. Pre-completion OPT must relate to your major, and you must file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive authorization before beginning your training opportunity.

Summer internships require authorization if you are working and training in a position where the organization would usually hire and pay someone. If an internship is unpaid, it can still be authorized as a practical training experience. If you are unsure what authorization you need for an unpaid internship, your DSO can help.

Work Opportunities

F-1 students are eligible to receive authorization to work full time or part time on campus during summer vacation.

F-1 students who are offered work opportunities with certain international organizations may be eligible to apply for a work authorization based on an internship with an international organization.

F-1 students experiencing economic hardship may also apply for authorization to work full time during summer vacation at an off-campus job. Speak with your DSO before beginning work to ensure you are eligible to work in the United States.

Do you have specific questions about training, internships or work during the summer? Talk to your DSO or contact the SEVP Response Center if you have a case-specific question.

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