On-Campus Employment

International students may work on campus as soon as their program of study begins. "On-campus employment" is employment performed on the school premises, and which provides direct services to students. International students may not work for employers on-campus who do not provide services to students, such as a contractor building a new building. International students may be employed in any of the offices on campus, the bookstore, Sudexo as well as Hawks Point.

On-campus employment does not need to be related to a students’ field of study. However, the student must maintain legal status at all times. If the students F-1 or J-1 status changes (completion of program, change of immigration status, etc), employment is no longer allowed.

In order to be eligible for on campus employment, an international student must be a full time student. On-campus employment can take the form of a job in an academic or administrative department.
International students do not qualify for “work-study” positions. Only students who qualify for Federal Financial Aid may qualify for work-study.

Federal regulations prohibit F-1 and J-1 students from working more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.

A work week is generally defined as Sunday through Saturday.

The 20-hour-per-week limit on employment applies to all positions combined. For example, if a student works 15 hours a week in the cafeteria, he or she can only work an additional 5 hours during that week at the book store.

20 hours per week is not an average, but a strict limit. Students may not work 15 hours one week and then 25 hours the following week.

Full time employment is allowed only during official breaks (Spring, Winter and Summer). A vacation period starts the Sunday after classes are out of session and end the Saturday before classes resume.

F-2 dependents are not permitted to accept employment. J-2 dependents may apply for permission from BCIS to accept employment if they make their request in writing, stating that the income will be used only for the support of the J-2 dependents and not for the support of the J-1 Exchange Visitor.

J-1 Exchange Visitors
J-1 Exchange Students may be authorized to accept on-campus employment by the Responsible Officer of their sponsoring agency prior to beginning work. An exchange student may be authorized to work on campus up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and full time during official school breaks and annual vacation, as long as the student is in good academic standing, is engaged in a full course of study, and has received written approval from the Responsible Officer for the specific employment in advance. Such approval may be valid for up to twelve months but is automatically withdrawn if the student's program is terminated.

Working without authorization, or exceeding authorization, is a serious violation of status. It is the student’s responsibility to comply with all immigration and employment regulations which apply to F-1and J-1 students. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in serious consequences, including termination of status.

Off Campus Employment

International students are not eligible for off campus employment without prior approval of the Designated Signing Official (DSO) in the Center for Multicultural Affairs. Always visit with a DSO before engaging in any type of employment, even if it is unpaid.

Off campus employment opportunities are highly regulated and limited by immigration regulations. Students who have completed at least one academic year of their program are eligible to apply for certain types of employment

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is employment directly related to an international students academic program and be an integral part of the curriculum. CPT is temporary employment for which a student earns academic credit. CPT is usually authorized for part time except during official school breaks (Spring, Summer and Winter). Employment must be approved by the Chair of the students’ academic department and authorized by a DSO in the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Authorization for employment must be received prior to begging CPT. In order to be eligible a student must have been in F-1/J-1 status for at least one academic year and be registered as a full time student in good academic standing. Students who are required to complete a year of internship credit or need less than a full load to complete a final semester before graduation may be eligible for CPT. Students who finish program requirements but delay graduation in order to use CPT will not receive authorization.

Applying for CPT
Meet with the Chair of your academic department about job opportunities they will approve for CPT.
Apply for the job. You must be offered employment prior to applying for CPT.
Fill out the CPT application form (PDF)
Provide an official letter of an employment offer from the company you wish to work for as well as a detailed job description to the Chair of your academic department. He or she will sign the form if approved.
If employment is approved by the Chair of your academic department, returned the letter of an employment offer, detailed job description and the completed forms to the CMA.
Make an appointment to meet with the Director of the CMA.
If CPT is approved by the Director, a new page three of your I-20 will be printed with an employment authorization. You may not begin employment until you have received the new I-20 page.
Curricular Practical training is employer specific. If you change jobs, you must repeat this process and receive a new I-20 authorization. Employment is date and location specific. You may not begin employment prior to the start date on your authorization, nor work past the completion date. If you need to work past your completion date, you must reapply for CPT prior to the completion date. If there is a break between the end date and the new start date, you must not work. If you work without authorization, even for an hour or a day, you violate immigration regulations and you will be out of status. CPT is only authorized for one semester at a time unless your internship or Cooperative program requires you to work beyond that semester.

Download CPT here

Cooperative Programs
Employment offered through cooperative agreements between an employer and the university constitutes CPT if it is an integral part of a curriculum but not required for a particular course or for all students. Employment is offered as productive work experience in a field related to a student’s academic field.

Dickinson State University has a cooperative agreement with Baker Boy Bakeshop Inc. Students in the Agricultural programs and limited Business Administration programs may qualify for employment through the Baker Boy Cooperative Program.

For information on employment make an appointment with Dr. Chip Poland, Chair of the Dept. of Agriculture and Technical Studies. Chip.Poland@dickinsonstate.edu

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Current international students who have been enrolled on a full time basis for at least one academic year are eligible for twelve months of OPT. You may work for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to your major program of study. This does not apply to minors or concentrations.

OPT allows you an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge gained from your academic program to a practical work experience, which is why it is major specific. OPT employment may be part or full time and you may be employed anywhere in the U.S. Most students do OPT after they graduate, though there are limited circumstances in which you can apply prior to graduation.

OPT is authorized for a total of twelve months for each level of study. Students who maintain their student status for one full academic year can receive a new period of OPT after completion of each level of study (12 months after Associates degree, 12 months after Bachelor’s degree, 12 months after master’s degree, etc.).

OPT requires an authorization from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service Phoenix Service Center. Granting of OPT is not automatic, although most applications are approved. If employment is approved USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This card is your authorization to work in your major field for the dates specified on the card. Employment may not begin until the EAD has been received by you.

STEM degree fields: If your major is one of the STEM degree fields (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) you may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT for a total of 29 months or training. You must be employed by a qualifying E-Verify employer.

For a list of majors qualifying for the STEM extension: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

Applying for OPT

You may start your application no more than three months prior to the end of your program of study. USCIS can take 90-120 days to approve an application for OPT. Filing well in advance will decrease the likelihood of you having to wait a substantial amount of time between your completion date and your employment start date.

You must apply prior to you program completion date on your SEVIS I-20.

The filing fee for OPT is $380.00 and is subject to change.

Download Form I-765 (104KB PDF)

Download Instructions for Form I-765 (269KB PDF)

While you are engaged in OPT you are required to keep the Center for Multicultural Affairs up to date on your home address, your employers contact information (supervisor, address, phone number) and any breaks in employment. Information will be updated in SEVIS. USCIS allows for three months total of unemployment. If information is not updated within three months, your unemployment allowance will be expired and your will be terminated from status in SEVIS.

Download OPT here

Severe Economic Hardship

If on campus or CPT opportunities are not available or are insufficient, you may request off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. In order to receive an I-20 you had to demonstrate to DSU as well as to the American Consulate or Embassy you had the necessary funding to study and support yourself in the U.S. for one academic year. If your source of funding changes, you must carefully document your case and prove to the USCIS that the change was unexpected.

There is a filing fee of $380.00. A fee waiver can be requested, but is not guaranteed. The application process can take 90-120 days to adjudicate. If approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the mail. The EAD will have start and end dates. It is not employer specific; however, you will be limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during official school breaks (Spring, Winter and Summer breaks).

Eligibility for Sever Economic Hardship

You must have completed at least one full academic year and be in good academic standing.
You must demonstrate there is an unforeseen severe economic necessity beyond the student’s control that arose after receiving F-1 status.
You must demonstrate that other employment opportunities are unavailable or are otherwise insufficient.
You must establish that employment will not interfere with full time study.
If your financial situation is too severe, part time employment may not be enough to solve your problem. Make an appointment with the Director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs to look at options available to you.

Applying for Economic Hardship

You may not file until you have been in status for one academic year.
USCIS may take 90-120 days to process your application.
The filing fee is $380.00 (subject to change)

Download Form I-765 (104KB PDF)

Download Instructions for Form I-765 (269KB PDF)

Download Economic Hardship application here

Employment With International Organizations
Students pursuing an internship with a recognized international organization, may accept such employment upon receipt of authorization from the USCIS California Service Center. Recognized organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. For more information, consult the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Special Student Relief
Emergent circumstances are also referred to as Special Student Relief. When there is a world event that impacts a group of non-immigrants, the Secretary of DHS may publish a special notice in the Federal Register and grant special relief. The notice will give details on who is included in the group and the eligibility requirements. The Secretary can waive any restrictions on F 1 student employment.


You may not volunteer to work a job that is normally a paid position, nor can you trade a service (babysitting, yard work, house sitting, etc) in exchange for any type of compensation (food, housing, small gifts, etc). Any service for any compensation is illegal employment a grounds for terminations of student status.

In order to be a true volunteer position, for example, working for a non-profit organization where there is no expectation of compensations, volunteering and working without pay is legal. Consider whether Americans would perform the same job without pay under the same circumstances.

If you have any doubts or questions about whether a job qualifies as volunteer, ask a DSO at the CMA.


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