Working as an International Student
Employment is defined as work performed in exchange for compensation. However, before accepting any kind of employment, you will want to be sure it is allowed by the F-1 regulations. Note that the off-campus employment opportunities generally require that you have been enrolled in a full course of study for one academic year or that you will complete one academic year by the date your Optional Practical Training (OPT) is approved.
Consult your international student adviser with any questions related to F-1 status and employment.
F-1 status allows the following categories of employment:
There are a limited number of on‐campus employment opportunities for students at the Twin Cities or Winona campuses.
CPT is temporary employment authorization directly related to your field of study. CPT may be part time (20 hours per week or less) or full time (more than 20 hours per week).
Training may be required or optional for your degree. Required training must be clearly identified and described in the course catalog or similar publication. If the training is not required, you must receive academic credit from an internship, cooperative education program, practicum, or similar course.
The following programs at Saint Mary's offer opportunities for CPT:
- Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies
- Graduate Certificate: K–12 Reading Teacher
- M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services
- M.A. in English as a Second Language
- M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy
- M.A. in Special Education
- M.A. in Teaching
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology
Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience related to the academic field of study.
You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:
- You are currently in F-1 status.
- You have been enrolled in a full course of study for one academic year (nine months) or will complete one academic year by the date the OPT approval begins.
You are eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT per academic level. For example, you may apply for 12 months of OPT after completing a bachelor's degree and then another 12 months after completing a master's degree. You may apply for OPT during your academic program (pre-completion) or after your academic program (post-completion). An additional 24-month extension may be possible, depending on your field of study.
You may apply to use your 12 months of OPT, at different rates, during your academic program, after your program completion, or a combination of both.
While approved for OPT, you are still in F-1 status and must report address changes and employment information to your international student adviser.
At the end of your approved OPT, as indicated by your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you have a 60-day grace period. During this grace period you must either depart the U.S., be issued an I-20 for a new program of study, or change to a different immigration status.
OPT used during your academic program, and ending before your program is completed, is called "pre-completion" OPT. It can be approved for different rates:
- Full time (more than 20 hours per week) or part time (20 hours per week or less) during your annual vacation quarter and between quarter breaks, provided you are eligible and intend to register the following semester
- Part time (20 hours per week or less) while enrolled in a full course of study
OPT that follows completion of your program requirements is called "post-completion" OPT. It can be approved after completion of your degree.
Please contact your international student adviser for additional information.
If you are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you will need to contact your international student adviser to discuss your situation.
To qualify for work authorization for economic hardship, you must have been in F-1 status for one academic year, be in good academic standing, and document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your financial needs. Examples of unforeseen circumstances include loss of financial support or on-campus employment, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
Social Security Number
F-1 Students Authorized for Optional Practical Training
Apply for a Social Security Number in person at a local Social Security Administration office. Apply on or after the start date on your EAD card.
Bring with you:
- Form I-20 (updated and endorsed for practical training)
- I-94 record
- EAD card