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Student Employment Overview

Last updated 18-May-2020

Overview of Student Employment and Practical Training

F/M students’ ability to work and train in the United States is limited by law. DSOs must know:

  • Federal regulations and policies for F-1 student employment and practical training
  • Federal regulations for M-1 practical training
  • Any school policies that govern student employment

Students cannot start work or paid/unpaid practical training until they have the proper authorization.

negative consequence8 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 214.2(f) (9) through (13)
8 CFR 214.2 (m)(13) and (14)

A student’s employment history can be viewed on the Employment Information page in SEVIS.

The Employment Information page lists all authorizations for an individual SEVIS ID. It does not list any authorizations for the same individual with another SEVIS ID.

F-1 Employment and Practical Training

The following types of employment and practical training may be available to F-1 students:

On-Campus Employment

In most cases, on-campus employment is work that directly supports the student body (for example, working at a school bookstore, cafeteria, or residence hall). 

Note: On-campus employment is not recorded in SEVIS. 


negative consequence8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(i)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is training that is an integral (i.e., required) part of the student’s curriculum. It is authorized by the DSO.

negative consequence8 CFR 214.1(f)(9)(i)


Optional Practical Training (OPT)


OPT allows postsecondary students to get practical training in their field of study. Types:

  • Pre-completion OPT: Used before the student’s program end date.
  • Post-completion OPT: Used after the student’s program end date; or for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for degree (excluding thesis or the equivalent).
  • 24-month Extension of OPT (STEM OPT): Used after regular OPT is completed. Only for students who majored in DHS-approved Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees.
  • Cap-Gap OPT Extension: For students whose future employer files a qualifying H-1B petition.

OPT must be authorized by USCIS through the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


negative consequenceTitle 8 CFR 214.2(f) (10) through (13)


Off-Campus Employment


Off-campus employment is for individual students with:

  • Severe financial hardship.
  • Emergent Circumstances (Special Student Relief).

Off-campus employment must be authorized by USCIS through the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


negative consequenceTitle 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(9)(ii)


Internship with an International Organization


This is work with an organization covered by the International Organizations Immunities Act. Internships with an international organization must be authorized by USCIS through the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


negative consequenceTitle 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (9) (iii)
22 U.S.C.§ 288 59 Stat. 669

M-1 Practical Training

M-1 students are only eligible for M-1 practical training. This training can only happen after the student is done with the program.

negative consequence8 CFR 214.2(m)(13) and (14)

M-1 practical training must be authorized by USCIS.

Process Overview: Applications Filed with USCIS


negative consequence

Students cannot legally work before the start date on the USCIS-approved work authorization.

negative consequence

The Form I-765 is available on the USCIS website.

Students should carefully read and follow USCIS instructions for filing the form. The Form I-765 has a filing fee.

Students and schools are urged to keep copies of anything filed with government agencies.

Social Security Numbers

Students who work in the United States are required to obtain a social security number (SSN).

negative consequence

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) verifies the student’s status. The SSA will not issue an SSN, if the SEVIS record is not in Active status.
  • DSOs needing assistance with Social Security-related issues may email


DSOs should be familiar with the tax-filing requirements for international students.

negative consequence

  • The Internal Revenue Service offers detailed information for Foreign Students and Scholars. This site provides information and useful tools on:
    • How to figure out if the student is a “resident alien for tax purposes,” which can differ from the student’s “nonresident” immigration status
    • Tax Payer Identification Numbers (ITINs)
    • Employer’s withholding on students and scholars
    • Income on foreign students and scholars
    • Deductions for foreign students and scholars
    • Other references
  • Tax-related information from SEVP:

Icon Guide

See the SEVIS Help Icons on the SEVIS Help Hub for a quick-reference of the icons used in this user guide.