Employment Options in the U.S. ON F-1 Status

Before engaging in job or employment opportunities in the United States, students on F-1 visas must be aware of the regulations governing their visa status.

Work that is done for pay is considered to be employed. Compensation options include cash, lodging, and other sizeable benefits. The majority of work opportunities demand permission. Working without permission can have major repercussions on your lifelong capacity to study, travel, or work in the United States.

 To find out what is necessary for your specific employment interest, please check the sections below:

  • On-campus employment
  • Curricular Practical Training
  • Optional Practical Training

On-Campus Employment


While studying in the United States, F-1 visa holders are permitted to work on their home campuses. Up to 30 days before the start date listed on their I-20, a student may start working. Only while they are still considered students may they work on campus. For on-campus employment, evidence of ability to work is provided via a valid I-20 paperwork and a red card.
What is on-campus employment?
On-campus employment is defined by ISPaSO as employment at Principia College that takes place on the actual campus in Elsah and is connected to the Principia College. Asking the employer if they will be paying from Principia’s payroll is a smart approach for students to figure out if a job is on-campus. On-campus employment from “third parties” may occasionally be taken into consideration. Students who work at Re-union, for instance, may also be employed on campus by the Principia College’s staff unit.
Where can I work?
Student employment opportunities come in a wide variety and change from semester to semester. Here is a comprehensive list of job categories you can encounter on campus:

Admissions Student Ambassador
Athletics Facilities E Attendant
Biology Aviary Staff
Business Office Assistant
Campus Event Student
Technician C – Store Cashier
Dining Services cashier
Media Services
Lab Assistant
Language Tutor
Resident Assistant
Teaching Assistant
Gym Attendant
Writing Tutor

You are allowed to work:

Time Limits

15 hours per week up until you achieve a GPA of 3.0; after that, you are permitted to work 20 hours per week during normal school days. During the winter and summer breaks, you are permitted to work a total of 40 hours each week.

Expiration of on-campus eligibility

Upon graduation. Even though the I-20 expiration date is in the future, it ends on the last day of your final quarter (according to the Prin calendar). When your SEVIS record is released, if you transfer to a different university, your work permission expires on that day. Your SEVIS record will be deleted if you violate your F-1 status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions we hear from admitted students. If you have any questions as you prepare to come to Principia, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Yes, you must apply for a Social Security Number.

Taxes in the United States vary greatly between students. Treaties between a student’s home country and the United States government can have an impact on income tax requirements. Because this is a complex topic, Principia provides some useful tools.

All foreign nationals hired by Principia will be required to create an account in the company’s online Glacier Tax Compliance system. Principia uses this program to perform tax status evaluations and withholding for its foreign employees.

Curricular Practical Training

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. It is a temporary authorization for practical training (off-campus work) directly related to your major field of study-paid or unpaid. CPT requests are reviewed and approved by ISPaSO. It can be part-time (20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) – paid or unpaid. Students who accumulate 365 days of full-time CPT authorization lose their eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

To be eligible for CPT, you must be currently enrolled in valid F-1 status and have completed 2 full-time semesters at Principia College. Because CPT work must be related to your major, you must have also declared your major.
Degree Requirement CPT is when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (all the students in that program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Course Credit CPT is when CPT is authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade.
After you have completed two semesters or one academic year.
CPT requests are processed by ISPaSO and therefore take no more than one business day.
There is no cost to the student for the CPT application. However, if the student is enrolled in an internship class, Principia College may charge and internship fee and tuition for course credit.
CPT is authorized on page 2 of the I-20 as proof of employment eligibility.
  • Internship experience (paid or unpaid)
  • Cooperative (co-op) education experience
  • Practicum participation
Yes, if the work will be extended, a request must be sent at least one week prior to the completion date.
If you are an F-1 student and have not been in the United States for 5 years, you should not be paying Social Security or Medicare taxes. However, other income taxes apply.
Yes, F-1 students are required to update their local address within 10 days of moving to the new address.
Yes, remote work is allowed under CPT. 

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to gain hands-on work experience related to their academic field of study. There are three kinds of OPT.

If you meet the following requirements, you are eligible to apply:

  • You have kept your F-1 status.
  • You have completed one academic year (three quarters) or will complete one academic year by the start date of your OPT approval.
  • You have not been approved for 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). You have not previously completed 12 months of OPT at the same level of study.

Post-Completion OPT:

Post-completion OPT is OPT authorization that begins after you have completed your academic program. This is the most prevalent type of OPT. You must apply for OPT using your most recent registered semester. If you miss the graduation application deadline or pay the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee, your degree will be awarded in a semester in which you are not enrolled. In such cases, the OPT application must be submitted during the previous (registered) semester. If you are unable to complete your program on time, please contact ispaso@principia.edu. Graduate students: If you are considering applying for post-completion OPT to overlap with thesis/dissertation completion, please contact ispaso@principia.edu (prior to graduation).

Pre-Completion OPT:

Pre-completion OPT is OPT that begins and ends while you are still enrolled in your course of study, before your program’s end date. Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, and most students prefer to save OPT for after program completion. You may begin the OPT application process up to 90 days before your desired employment start date. Please schedule an appointment with an international student advisor for more information and instructions.

STEM OPT Extension:

Students with a qualifying STEM degree who are in their 12-month OPT authorization period and working for an E-Verify registered employer may apply for an extension of their OPT.

Pre-Completion OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to gain hands-on work experience related to their academic field of study. There are three kinds of OPT.
What is Pre-Completion OPT?
Optional Practical Training with a “Pre-Completion” status is used while you are still enrolled in your degree. Pre-Completion OPT is subtracted from the total of 12 months of OPT eligibility. Pre-completion OPT is uncommon; most students save OPT for after they complete their program. Pre-Completion OPT is only available in situations where:
    • Your OPT will begin and end while you are studying (not after graduation).
    • You have a training opportunity but are not guaranteed CPT.
If you are about to graduate and need OPT to work afterward, you must apply for Post-Completion OPT. If you won’t be graduating soon and need permission to do an internship, practicum, or other work/training related to your studies, look into Curricular Practical Training first (CPT).
If you meet the following requirements, you are eligible to apply:
  • You are currently on F-1 visa.
  • You will begin and end your OPT during your enrolled course of study
  • You have been enrolled in a full course of study (three quarters).
  • You’re in college. Pre-majors are ineligible for Pre-Completion OPT.
  • You have not been authorized for a full-time Curricular Practical Training period of 12 months (CPT).
  • You have not previously completed a 12-month full-time OPT program at the same degree level.
Pre-Completion OPT can be authorized:
  • Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during your full-time enrollment quarters. Part-time Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12-month period.