There are five types of student employment:
- On campus employment - this applies to students who will work in an on-campus establishment such as the cafeteria or bookstore. It may also apply to "off campus" sites which are "affiliated educationally" with the school. The employment must be an "integral part" of the educational program, and cannot exceed twenty hours per week while school is in session. Full time, on campus employment is allowed during summer vacations and holidays when school is not open.
- Practical training - this is divided into two categories:
Curricular Practical Training
This applies to training as part of an established curriculum during the student’s regular course of study. It includes work/study programs, cooperative educational programs, or internships offered by employers through agreements with the school. In order to qualify for curricular practical training, the student must have been lawfully enrolled in school, on a full-time basis, for at least nine consecutive months (exception for students of some graduate study programs who require immediate curricular practical training). The position must be directly related to the student’s major field of study.
Note: Students who have participated in one year or more of full-time curricular practical training may not participate in practical training after completion of their course of study.
Optional Practical Training (either before or after completion of studies)
Optional practical training can only be authorized in an occupation that is directly related to the student’s major. A student may qualify after he or she has been lawfully enrolled in school, on a full time basis, for at least nine consecutive months. The period of optional practical training, both before and after studies, cannot exceed twelve months. Optional practical training is available during the following four periods:
- During vacation periods while school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled and intends to register for the next term.
- While school is in session, not to exceed twenty hours per week.
- After completion of all course requirements.
- After completion of the entire course of study.
All optional practical training must be completed within fourteen months after the completion of study.
Note: Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training.
Off-Campus Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship
A student can apply for part-time (no more than twenty hours per week while school is in session) off-campus employment after having been in good academic standing for at least one year. The request must be based upon severe economic hardship, caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. Examples include: loss of financial aid, loss of on-campus employment, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living expenses, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, or unexpected medical bills.
The student must first make a good faith effort to obtain on-campus or off-campus employment under the Pilot Off-Campus Employment Program.
International Organization Internships
International organizations falling under the International Organizations Immunities Act can employ full-time F-1 students.
Special Student Relief
In 1998, the USCIS gave itself the authority to suspend its employment authorization requirements in emergencies. The USCIS applied this rule to certain students who were in F-1 status as of June 10, 1998, and whose financial support came from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand or the Philippines, and who faced severe economic hardship due to rapid currency devaluation. If the economic crises in these countries have caused severe economic hardship, these students can work either on or off-campus.
This "special student relief" program is in effect indefinitely. Eligibility depends on the source of financial support, not the student’s citizenship. The regulations apply only to undergraduate and graduate students. F-1 students in non-degree or language programs are not eligible. The twenty-hour per week limit for on-campus employment does not apply. Please note that the USCIS has not yet announced the procedures with which F-1 students must comply, once the relief program is rescinded.
If you have questions about student visas, or other immigration matters, please contact a New Jersey immigration lawyer at LS&P Lawyers today.
Note: Those who qualify for "special student relief" and plan to travel outside the U.S. may have a problem obtaining a new F-1 visa.