Categories of employment as an F-1 student:
Each category requires the student to maintain a current valid F-1 status. A student who is out of status is not eligible for F-1 benefits, including employment.
Each F-1 employment category has specific eligibility requirements, and most are also divided into subcategories, so be sure to review each category in detail.
On-campus employment is a benefit of your student visa status that allows you to work on-campus part-time (20 hours) while school is in session, and full-time (37.5 hours) during your approved vacations and breaks. There is no need for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to approve on-campus employment. However, you must obtain a social security card and report your wages to the Internal Revenue Service.
Points to Remember
- You must maintain your visa status.
- You may only work part-time (20 hours) while school is in session.
- You may work full-time (37.5 hours) during approved vacations and breaks.
- You must be fully enrolled commensurate with your degree level and program of study (unless you have an approved Reduced Course Load).
- To get started with the process please visit http://www.nova.edu/financialaid/employment/index.html and follow instructions.
International students are eligible to work off-campus after official permission is granted. There are two primary types of off-campus employment for which international students may apply:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
F-1 students may be authorized to participate in a CPT program that is an integral part of their respective curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requests evidence of direct course relevance of students who want to engage in Curricular Practical Training and requests evidence that the CPT opportunity meet one of the following conditions:
- the training is required of all students in the curriculum, or
- the training is required for a particular course or course track in order to fulfill degree requirements, or
- if the training is not required, the CPT must be a course elective which carries course credit.
Please contact the Office of International Students (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your program’s academic advisor for more information, or download and complete the CPT Application Form
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
An F-1 student may apply for temporary employment involving practical training "directly related to the student's major area of study and commensurate with the student's educational level." The duration of this employment authorization is a total of 12 months per level. Students are eligible for another 12 months of OPT when they change levels (i.e. from Bachelor's to Master's).
- Post-Completion: Students interested in this practicum must apply before their program of study is complete; otherwise they are ineligible for OPT. Students can apply as early as 90 days prior to the completion of their studies (last day of class). It is recommended that students apply as early as possible in order to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in a timely manner. By applying early, the student has a better chance of completing the 12 month OPT within the 14 months allowed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) following the completion of the program of study.
- Pre-Completion: This is less common; however, students may apply for and begin the OPT prior to completion of the program of study. There is a limit of 20 hours per week while the student is registered for and taking classes. Students may apply for full-time authorization during the student's annual vacation or during official school breaks only if they intend to register for the following term. Remember, however, that there are only 12 total months available, and that training done before a degree is completed will count against the 12-month total and reduce time available after the degree is awarded.
For assistance with applying for OPT, schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs 90 days before your last day of class and download the OPT Instructions. Read these instructions carefully and bring the required documents to your appointment.
Obtaining a Social Security Number
When you are employed in the United States, you will be required to obtain a Social Security Number.
To apply for a Social Security Number based upon on-campus employment, F-1 students are required to provide evidence of employment. The Social Security Administration requires students to submit both of the following as evidence:
- a letter from the Office of International Students and Scholars (sample letter). The letter must identify the student's employer, describe the nature of the employment, and state that the student is authorized to engage in on-campus employment.
- a statement from the student's on-campus employer stating that the student is either currently employed or has recently been hired.
The Social Security Administration does not require this evidence of employment from students engaging in or applying for optional practical training or curricular practical training programs.
When applying to the Social Security Office, please have the following:
Visit the U.S. Social Security site for detailed information about international students and social security numbers.
The Social Security Office closest to the main campus is located at:
8501 W Sunrise Blvd., Suite 100
Plantation, FL 33322
Hours of operation: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday. Except Wednesdays: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Map to Social Security Office