Office of International Education & Development
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IMPORTANT: Unauthorized employment is a violation of student immigration status. Students are responsible for understanding and complying with all employment regulations enforced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before starting any type of employment.
|Difference Between “Employment” and “Volunteer Work”?|
|Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit.||Volunteer work is any type of work or service that is normally unpaid – no pay or other benefit is expected or received.|
Employment Options for International Students
- On-Campus Employment
- Off-Campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 students
- Academic Training (AT) for J-1 Exchange Visitors
When can I start?
On-campus employment may start immediately after the student enters the U.S., registers full-time at WOU and has been registered in the SEVIS database. Employment may begin as early as 30 days before the start of classes.
The type of work must be work that directly serves WOU’s student population.
International students are limited to 20 hours or work per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week during official school breaks, such as winter break, spring break, or summer vacation.
J-1 students must have their SEVIS record updated with the details of their on-campus employment, and J-1 students may only have work authorization for up to one year.
- Find a job on campus. See WolfLink for more information on campus job opportunities.
- Complete the “On-Campus Employment Authorization Form” and have it signed by your job supervisor. Turn in the form to the OIED office and allow 2-3 business days for processing.
- After your form has been processed, pick up the employment authorization letter issued by the OIED office.
- Take the letter and apply for a Social Security Number in Salem. More information about the SSN is here.
- Bring the Social Security Number receipt and the “On Campus Employment Authorization Form” to the payroll office in the Administration Building to get final permission for on-campus work.
Application Form: On-Campus Employment Authorization Form (PDF)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students
When can I start?: CPT employment may begin one academic year (9 months) after the student has been enrolled full-time. Exceptions may be given to graduate level students.
Requirements: If a student’s major or course requires a paid or unpaid internship off-campus, then the student must enroll in the required class, and get approval from both the professor and authorization from an OIED student advisor before accepting the internship.
Restrictions: J-1 students students are not eligible for CPT.
Application Process and Information: Complete the CPT online form and get the supporting documents and necessary signatures. Register for the internship class, and then submit the application to the OIED office. Do not start the internship until approval is given.
Application Form: CPT Advisor Verification Form (PDF)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Information Sheet(PDF)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a term used by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to describe employment or volunteer work (usually off-campus) in the student’s major field of study.
Use this form to apply for OPT OPT Application Form. Review detailed OPT_Application_Instructions (PDF) here and schedule a meeting with Jackie Bouvia to review your application prior to submission.
When can I start?: Up to 12 months of OPT may be used prior to or after completion of studies. The OPT employment or volunteer work must be directly related to the student’s major or field of study.
Requirements: The student must be enrolled full-time or on a approved Reduced Course Load for the academic year (9 months) prior to starting the 12 months of OPT employment.
Additional Information: While on OPT all students need to update OIED within 10 days if they change their address and/or employment. Students with certain majors may be eligible for an extension. See the 17 Month STEM Degree Extension Information (PDF) sheet for details.
The table below explains the different variations of OPT authorization.
|Type of Optional Practical Training||Explanation||Limitations||When to Apply||Date OPT Ends|
|Pre-Completion OPT||Pre-completion OPT is authorized part-time employment on- or off- campus during studies that is related to the student’s current major. OPT will be authorized up to 12 months on a part-time basis. Student must continue to pursue a full course of study.||Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week while on a school break (spring break, summer vacation or other authorized vacation periods).||An application for OPT may be submitted as early as 90 days prior to completing one academic year.||The OPT will automatically end on the day the student transfers to a different school, earns his/her degree or after 12 months, whichever is soonest.|
|Post-Completion OPT (This is the most common.)||Post-completion OPT is used after a student earns his/her degree at WOU and after the completion of the course of study. “Completion of studies” refers to the date on which the student completes all Western Oregon University degree requirements (may be before the completion of a thesis or cumulative exam). It may not always be the date of graduation.||OPT must be full time or over 20 hours a week. A student cannot accumulate over 90 days of unemployment or else their OPT will automatically end.||The application may be submitted as early as 90 days before the program end date and the latest day for USCIS to receive the application is 60 days after. Applying as soon as possible is highly recommended.||Any OPT authorization ends on the transfer release date for a student who requests a transfer to another school or changes their education level (continues to get a masters degree, etc.), on the OPT end date, or after accumulating 90 days of unemployment.|
|STEM Extension OPT||F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for a one time 17-month extension for their OPT.||The application requires that the student have a job or job offer from anE-Verify employer and their degree/SEVIS code is on the STEM degree list on the ice.gov Web site.||Applications for the extension should be submitted at least 120 to 90 days before the current OPT ends.||The 17 month extension opportunity is available so students have an extended opportunity to apply for an H1B employment visa. Upon approval of an H1B application, the student’s F-1 record will end.|
- A student may file for both Pre and Post-completion OPT at the same time, but two separate applications and fees must be submitted.
Off-Campus Employment for F-1 students
Requirements: A student may be eligible for off-campus employment authorization for the following reasons;
- Severe economic hardship
- Employment with an international organization
- From a country that the U.S. has given special economic relief to students
Restrictions: Authorizations are valid for 12 months. Hours of work are limited to 20 hours or less per week while school is in session. Students may work up to 40 hours per week while on official school breaks such as winter break, spring break, or summer vacation. J-1 students are not eligible.
Application Process and Information: These instructions relate to “Severe Economic Hardship” applications.
- Complete the online form below.
- Find and complete the I-765 application which is available at www.uscis.gov in the “Forms” section. You may bring this form, completed to the best of your abilities, to your appointment with an OIED international student advisor for assistance. On line #16, write the code, (c) (3) (iii) within the three parentheses.
- Provide financial information including a personal budget and supporting documents to show your financial need.
- Write a statement/letter explaining how your current financial crisis is due to circumstances beyond your control. Explain why other employment options are unavailable or are insufficient.
- Provide two passport-style photos that meet the specifications noted on the instructions for the I-765 form. Write your name and SEVIS number on the back of the photos in pencil.
- Make a personal check or money order in the amount of $380 payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. Check the I-765 instructions to see if the fee has changed.
- Meet with an OIED international student advisor and bring all of the above documents, including your passport, I-94, and your previous I-20s for at least the past academic year. You will receive a new I-20 with an off-campus employment recommendation at the meeting with the advisor. All of the documents will be reviewed and finalized by the advisor before the student mails the documents to USCIS.
When can I start?: Students who meet the requirements above may apply for off-campus employment after they have been enrolled full-time for a complete academic year (9 months) in good academic standing. The I-765 application, fees and supporting documents, will need to be sent to USCIS for review. If approved, off-campus employment may begin when the student receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card).
Academic Training (AT) for J-1 Exchange Visitors
Academic Training is an opportunity for J-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study by engaging in employment or volunteer work which is related to their major or study. The length of AT authorization is equal to the length of their program of study (usually 9 months).
When can I start?: AT may be authorized either during or after completion of program of study, paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time.
There are two types of AT:
- Pre-Completion AT occurs during studies with or without wages or remuneration. The student must continue to take a full course load, but may participate in part-time AT as long as it does not interfere with studies or affect the student’s academic standing.
- Post-Completion AT occurs after studies and must begin within 30 days after the DS-2019 program end date with a job offer secured before the program end date.
Requirements: Students are eligible for academic training if they meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid DS-2019 and have maintained J-1 student status.
- Reside in the U.S. primarily for study in a full-time academic program.
- Maintain good academic standing.
- Applied before the program end date on DS-2019.
- Eligible for the 212(e) twenty four month home residency requirement waiver.
- Agree to maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout AT program.
To apply for AT schedule an appointment with Ermie Buncal.
Consequences of Working Illegally
Students found to be engaging in illegal employment by working without permission, working over the part-time and full-time hour limits, or not following the rules related to the specific type of employment authorization may be subject to the following consequences:
- The student’s SEVIS record may be terminated and they will be ineligible to apply for reinstatement. The student must exit the U.S. and apply for a new visa in order to return (this will be difficult since the student violated his/her previous status).
- The student may be arrested and deported.
- The student may be banned from returning to the U.S. for 3 to 10 years.
- Illegal employment puts students at a poor position with the employer. The employer may abuse other labor laws because they know you cannot report them because you are working illegally.
Where to look for a Job or Volunteer Work
Wolf Link provides information about open on-campus jobs as well as off-campus employment and local opportunities for internships and volunteer work.
Service Learning and Career Development office in the lower level of the Werner University Center helps students find volunteer and internship opportunities. SLCD has resources for students looking for jobs, and assists students in creating a strong resume and in preparing for job interviews. They can also explain what it is like looking for jobs in America and what employers expect from their employees.
Social Security Number
To get a Social Security Number (SSN), you must first find a job on campus or be approved for off-campus work (CPT, OPT, AT, etc.).
If you have an on-campus job offer, your employer must fill out the “On-Campus Employment Authorization” form and you should submit it to the OIED office no earlier than 2 weeks before your employment begins. If the job is off-campus, submit the job offer letter to the OIED office.
An OIED international student advisor will review our passport, visa, I-94 card, and I-20/DS-2019 and determine whether you have maintained immigration status before writing a letter of support.
You may then take the letter of support to the Social Security Administration office in Salem and apply for a SSN. The original SSN will be mailed to you in a few days so make sure you get a receipt stating that you applied for a SSN. If working on-campus, you will need to take the receipt to the Payroll office at WOU in the Administration building.
Information about the Payroll office at WOU.
All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire. This includes citizens and non-citizens. The employer must examine specific legal documents of the prospective employee to determine whether they are eligible for employment.
You will be required to fill out the I-9 form, and present proof of employment eligibility, such as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, or the I-20 or DS-2019 with employment remarks and approval. If your employer does not require you to fill out an I-9 form, then the employment may be illegal.
It is your responsibility to make sure that you pay any taxes due on your earnings. Consult a local tax service or the IRS for further advice.