International Student and Scholar Services

F-1 Off-Campus Employment

 

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F-1 On-Campus Employment
Economic Need Employment
Curricular Practical Training
Pre-Completion OPT
Post-Completion OPT
OPT Info Sessions
Contact Information

Economic Need Employment Permission
F-1 Economic Need work permission is a type of employment authorization for F-1 students who have suffered severe economic hardship due to unforeseen and unexpected economic problems.

In order to qualify for Economic Need employment, you must meet the following criteria

1. You must have been a full-time student at UMSL for at least one full academic year.
2. You must be able to document that the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unexpected and beyond your control.
3. You must be capable of continuing full-time studies and maintaining F-1 status while engaged in Economic Need employment.
4. You do NOT need a job offer to apply for Economic Need work permission.

If approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from the USCIS granting you permission to work off-campus. Typically, permission is granted for up to one year. Also note:

a. You may work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school year, full-time (over 20 hours per week) during vacation periods.
b. You may accept any type of lawful employment once you have received your EAD.
c. You may not start employment until you have received an EAD or before the start date indicated on the EAD. You must stop employment by the EAD expiration date or by the date you finish your studies, whichever is earlier.
d. You must remain a full-time student and make full-time progress toward degree completion while on Economic Need work permission.

Please make an appointment with an ISSS advisor in order to apply for Economic Need Employment authorization.

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F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows you, as an F-1 student, to accept paid, off-campus employment that is an integral part of the curriculum of your degree program. If your program does not have an internship option or fieldwork requirement, you are not eligible for CPT.

In order to qualify for Curricular Practical Training, the following must apply:

1. You must have been a full-time student at UMSL for at least one full academic year, and be in lawful F-1 status. You may engage in CPT before the end of one full academic year only if your program requires all enrolled students to obtain work experience in the first academic year.
2. You must be making normal progress toward degree completion, be in good academic standing, and otherwise maintaining F-1 status while engaged in CPT.

CPT may be part time (twenty hours or less) or full time. If you accumulates twelve months of full time CPT, OPT will not be possible. Part time CPT has no limit and does not effect eligibility for OPT.

You may not begin CPT without prior authorization from the ISSS. Retroactive authorization is not possible.

Please see an ISSS advisor if you would like to apply for CPT.

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F-1 Pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Pre-Completion OPT can be conducted in the following manner:

1. on a part-time basis only, during the academic year while engaged in coursework.
2. on a part-time or full-time basis, during the annual vacation period
3. on a part-time or full-time basis, while working on a master's thesis / project or doctoral dissertation following completion of all coursework.

In order to be eligible for Pre-Completion OPT, the following must apply:

a. You must have been a full-time student at UMSL for at least one academic year.
b. You must currently be in F-1 status.
c. You must be in good academic standing and making full-time progress toward degree completion.
d. You must not have used more than 12 months of OPT in the past at your current degree level.
e. You do NOT need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT, although once you are approved for OPT, the time is deducted from your 12 months regardless of whether you actually work.

OPT requires an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS may take up to 3 months to process an application for OPT. Please plan accordingly - we recommend that you apply as early as possible.

If your application for OPT is approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from the USCIS granting you permission to work off-campus.

If you are interested in applying for OPT, please sign up to attend an information session listed in the OPT workshop schedule.

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F-1 Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
(Please note that the federal regulations regarding post-completion OPT have changed significantly as of April 8, 2008. Click here to read a summary of the changes.)

Post-Completion OPT is conducted on a FULL-TIME BASIS ONLY, once ALL degree requirements have been fulfilled.

In order to be eligible for Post-Completion OPT, the following must apply:
a. You must have been a full-time student at UMSL for at least one academic year.
b. You must currently be in good F-1 status (no DL or Y grades that bring enrollment for any term below full-time).
c. You must be in good academic standing at the time of application, and you must have made normal, full-time progress toward degree completion.
d. You must not have used 12 months of OPT in the past at your current degree level.
e. You must not have been authorized for more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training at your current degree level.
f. You do NOT need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT, although once you are approved for OPT, the time is deducted from your 12 months regardless of whether you actually work.

IMPORTANT: Your application for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS before the end of the 60-day grace period following your program. Be sure to allow ample time for the completion and mailing of your application.

OPT requires an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS may take up to 3 months to process an application for OPT. Please plan accordingly - we recommend that you apply as early as possible, and recommend that you apply at least 90 days before your desired start date.

Within 5 to 10 business days of mailing your application you should receive a receipt notice (form I-797) from USCIS. If you do not receive this notice, or if your name is spelled incorrectly on this notice, please contact OISSS right away.

When your application for OPT is approved, you will receive an approval notice containing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from the USCIS granting you permission to work off-campus. You should receive this notice within 90 days from the receipt date listed on your receipt notice (form I-797). If you do not receive a response to your application within 90 days, please contact OISSS.

If you are interested in applying for OPT, please sign up to attend an information session listed in the OPT workshop schedule.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT) Information Sessions
If you are an F-1 student and would like to know more about OPT and how to apply for this benefit, please call or email our office to sign up for an OPT Information Sessions.

The sessions will last approximately an hour (this includes time for questions and answers). Students will receive a handout with instructions and the necessary forms. You will not need to bring your I-20 or passport to the session. Check the schedule for times and locations.

Contact Information
If you have any questions about off-campus employment authorization, please contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at iss@umsl.edu.

2008 Changes to OPT Regulations

On April 8, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released proposed rules that made significantly changes to the post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit for F-1 students. The new rules are not yet final; however they are in effect as of April 8, 2008.

The changes are summarized below.

OPT Extensions

New OPT filing window
Limits on Unemployment during OPT
Reporting Requirements

OPT Extensions

The April 8th rule included provisions for two types of post-completion OPT extensions: 17-month STEM extension and the H1B Cap-Gap Extension.

STEM Extension
Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines who have graduated with a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree are eligible for a one time 17-month extension of their post-completion OPT. This extension is available once per lifetime and cannot be issued in installments of less than 17 months. The STEM extensions do not replace the standard 12-month OPT. Eligible students must apply for the STEM extension before their current post-completion OPT authorization expires. Students are encouraged to apply at least 90 days prior to the end of their current authorization.

The STEM fields designated by DHS include:


At this time, MIS is not considered a STEM field.

In order to be eligible for the STEM extension students must:

Additionally employers of students on STEM extensions must agree to report any change in employment (termination, departure) to OISSS. Students are allowed to continue employment while the extension application is pending.

H1-B Cap-Gap Extension

Students who are the beneficiaries of a timely filed H1-B petition, and who will have a gap between the end of their OPT authorization and the October 1 start date of the H1-B are eligible for a Cap-Gap extension of their OPT. This is an automatic extension that applies to all students on OPT (regardless of their degree field) with a pending or approved H1-B petition. In the event that the H1-B petition is rejected, denied, or withdrawn, the work authorization ends immediately and the 60 day grace period is in effect. This provision does not apply to companies that are exempt from the cap (non-profit, governmental organizations, etc.)

Currently these extensions are not automatically occurring in the SEVIS system. Students who are eligible for this extension should contact OISSS to request this update to their SEVIS record and a new I-20 showing the extended dates of F-1 status and OPT authorization.

OPT Filing Window
DHS has modified the application deadlines for post-completion OPT. Students can apply as early as 90 days prior to the end of their program and as late as the 60-day grace period following their program end date. USCIS must receive the application before the end of the 60-day grace period. Students are still encouraged to file their applications at least 90-days before their desired start date.

Limits on Unemployment

Maintenance of F-1 status while on post-completion OPT is now affected heavily by unemployment. Effective April 8, 2008 F-1 students are now limited to a maximum of 90 days (12-month OPT) or 120 days (29 month OPT) of unemployment. This limit is a cumulative maximum and applies to the entire OPT period. Students on standard OPT cannot accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment during their 12-month OPT period. Students on STEM extensions have an additional 30 day allowance but cannot exceed 120 days of unemployment for the entire 29-month OPT period.

The most prominent impact of this change to the regulations is to an F-1 student's eligibility for future benefits. Students who have accumulated more than the allowed maximum days of unemployment could be considered ineligible for H1-B petitions or STEM extensions based upon this failure to maintain F-1 status.

Students who are concerned about this issue should contact OISSS for suggestions on managing unemployment and maintaining F-1 status.

Reporting Requirements

Another part of maintaining F-1 status while on post-completion OPT is compliance with the reporting requirements. Students must update OISSS within 10 days of the change in any of the below information:

Students on STEM extension must also submit a report every six months to validate their current employment information. This report must be received by OISSS within 10 days of the 6 month anniversary date. The anniversary date is considered to be the start date of the OPT extension. Additionally, the employers must agree to report within 48 hours any changes in employment status (termination or departure).


Post-completion OPT Reporting
Students on post-completion OPT must report certain information to OISSS within 10 days of the change. For your convenience we have added an online form to assist you in timely reporting of this information. Please select the link below to report any change in your legal name, local address, employment status and/or employer.

OPT Reporting Forms

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