F-1 Student Employment

Work authorization for F-1 Students

Students teaching in a classroomF-1 visas are specifically tied to being a student.  Therefore, all work experiences must be related to this student status.  "Work experiences" include  paid or unpaid jobs, internships, practicum experiences, and student teaching experiences. Here is a summary of the three types of work authorization:

  • On Campus Employment -- F-1 students are automatically authorized to work for the university. No additional authorization from ISSSO is required. 
  • CPT - Curricular Practical Training -- This experience must be on your transcript, usually as part of a required course.  You must be authorized by ISSSO before beginning. 
  • OPT - Optional Practical Training -- This experience must be directly connected to your major.  You must be authorized by USCIS before beginning.  This authorization is for up to one year of work experience either during or after you have comepleted your program. 


On-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work a maximum of 20 hours per week on campus while classes are in session. 

Students may work more than 20 hours per week during academic breaks (Winter Break, Summer break). This applies to all undergraduate, graduate and AppELS students.

  • J-1 students need to report their on-campus employment here
  • F-1 students do NOT need to report their on-campus employment. 

Students with on-campus jobs are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number.

To find on-campus jobs, apply on Handshake

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


F-1 students who are engaging in the following off-campus (paid or unpaid) experiences must apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization before beginning that experience: 

  • Temporary training

  • Internship

  • Practicum 

  • Student teaching

F-1 Undergraduate students must have been enrolled for at least 2 semesters.

F-1 Graduate students must have either been enrolled for at least 2 semesters OR the experience must be required as part of the degree program.

AppELS students are not eligible for CPT. 

How to Apply for CPT

In order to apply, F-1 students must:

  • Complete the CPT application at least 2 weeks prior to the experience start date. Return to an existing application by logging into the issso.appstate.edu portal

    • Obtain a job offer letter  

    • Obtain approval from academic advisor

    • Register for a class documenting the experience (e.g. Internship or Practicum credit, Independent Study) OR demonstrate the experience is a course or degree requirement. The experience must be related to the student’s major area of study.

  • Receive and sign an updated I-20 before beginning the experience 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students may apply for authorization to work off-campus for 12 months in a job that is related to their major field of study.


In order to apply for Optional Practical Training, students must:

  • Attend an Optional Practical Workshop delivered by ISSSO in order to apply for OPT. Contact issso@appstate.edu for more information on the next available workshop.
  • Currently be maintaining valid F-1 status 

  • Have completed one academic year or two semesters as a full-time student at App State

  • Be eligible to graduate with all degree requirements completed by your OPT start date 

  • Have a passport valid for at least six months into the future from the start date of your OPT

Students who are currently on OPT must report their employment here.

AppELS students are not eligible for OPT. 

How to Apply for OPT

Panel discussionStudents who wish to apply for OPT must:

  • Attend an Optional Practical Workshop delivered by ISSSO in order to apply for OPT. Contact issso@appstate.edu for more information on the next available workshop.
  • Recieve a new I-20 with an OPT Recommendation
  • Apply through USCIS (by mail or online)
  • Pay the USCIS application fee
  • Wait to receive your approval notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card before beginning employment. 
  • Update ISSSO with your employer's information in the issso.appstate.edu portal.  Start a new update here.  Return to an existing application here.


STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students on OPT with certain STEM majors may also be eligible to apply for an additional 24-month extension to their OPT work authorization.   Students are only eligible for the STEM Extension when the CIP Code on their I-20 is listed in the Department of Homeland Security's Stem Designated Degree Program List.

 When to apply:  As early as 90 days before your current Post Completion OPT EAD card expiration date.  USCIS must receive your STEM OPT extension application before your current Post Completion OPT EAD card expiration date.

How to apply:  Complete the STEM OPT Extension application in the ISSSO portal and then make an appointment with issso@appstate.edu to finalize your STEM OPT Extention application for USCIS and receive the require new I-20.  You must NOT submit the STEM OPT application to USCIS before receiving an updated I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSSO.