F1 Visa Work: 5 Ways to Work in the US on an F1 Student Visa


If you are planning to come to the United States to study, one concern you may have is how expensive it may be. The costs associated with studying in the US are not insignificant and can add up quickly. With international tuition, on top of travel and living expenses, you may be considering work to meet your financial needs. Although it is legal to do some types of work while in the US on an F1 visa, there are many restrictions to keep in mind, so you do not violate the terms of your visa. Below are 5 ways you can legally work in the US without violating your status.


1. On-Campus Employment


One of the most feasible options for international students to earn money is via on-campus employment. This is because it does not require the filing and approval of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. During the semesters that school is in session, students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week. During school breaks, such as spring break or summer break, students are allowed to work up to 40 hours a week. It’s always a good idea to check with your International Student Advisor and make sure that the job you are wanting is considered “on-campus.” Not all employment opportunities found on campus will be allowed under this authorization. For example, a construction company working on the campus may be physically on-campus, but a student does not have work authorization for that job. There are also off-campus employment options for international students, discussed below, but it should be noted that in your first academic year in the US, you are only allowed to have on-campus employment.


2. Off-Campus Employment


Before an F1 visa is approved, an international student must show their ability to afford the costs of school and living expenses in the United States and they should therefore not plan to work off-campus. However, if a student can establish that they are dealing with extreme financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances that occurred after their enrollment, such as medical emergencies or the devaluation in currency in their home country, they may request and receive authorization to find employment off-campus. Students are required to have completed at least one academic year, be in good academic standing, and receive a work permit from USCIS before starting this type of work. Students with this type of authorization will still be limited to only 20 hours of work a week while school is in session, and they must re-apply for off-campus approval each year. Notably, this type of off-campus employment does not have to relate to the student’s academic course of study.


3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Curricular Practical Training differs from other employment options for international students because it is not limited to 20 hours a week, but it does have to relate directly to the student’s major area of study. To be eligible for CPT, you must have already completed your first year of academic studies. However, no Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization is needed to be authorized for CPT. Curricular Practical Training is meant to provide real-world experience in a student’s area of study and allows students to find work off-campus, but it must occur before the student’s program end date on their Form I-20. If you are planning to complete Optional Practical Training, discussed below, you should be aware that one year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for OPT.


4. Optional Practical Training (OPT) (Pre-Completion & Post-Completion)


Optional Practical Training is another option for students looking to find off-campus work. 12 months of regular OPT is available for each higher level of study. For instance, a student who is in a bachelor’s degree program will get 12 total months of OPT. If they then decide to enter a master’s program, they will be given 12 more months. As mentioned above, a full year of CPT will eliminate a student’s availability of OPT, but only OPT at the same program level. For example, if a student did full time CPT during their bachelor’s degree program, they are no longer eligible for OPT while they continue their bachelor’s degree, even if done at a different school. However, once the student enters the master’s program (and they have not done any CPT work at this level), they are again eligible for 12 months of OPT.  In contrast with CPT, an Employment Authorization Document from USCIS is required before doing any OPT work.


OPT work must be directly related to a student's field of study and there are two types: pre-completion OPT, and post-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is for students who have not graduated yet from their degree program and are looking to gain experience in their field before they join the workforce, and they can only work up to 20 hours while school is in session. Post-completion OPT refers to any portion of OPT used after the student’s program end date, and this work must be full-time.


5. OPT Extensions: STEM and Cap-Gap


Lastly, if a student has used all 12 months of allotted OPT, there are two avenues to get an extension and continue OPT work. For students who majored in designated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees approved by DHS, they can get a 24-month extension of OPT. For students whose prospective employers filed a qualifying H1B-cap subject petition, they can get a Cap-Gap OPT Extension. This requires that an employer timely filed a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS and requested to change the student’s status to H1B. The purpose of the Cap-Gap extension is to allow individuals to stay in the US with work authorization between April 1 and September 30 while waiting on an approved H1B.


Schedule a Free Consultation


My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship in the United States.  If you have any questions about work options while on an F1 visa, or any other immigration-related questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.

Share this post...

Ashoori Law
Based on 591 reviews
Jamal Albardwil
I was delighted with my experience. Mr. Ehsan Ashoori Was a professional, and free consultation meant free and informative. And he educated me on what to expect and do, the likely outcomes, and how to achieve it. I would highly highly recommend this... immigration law firm to anyone needing an immigration law firm.I wish I could give them 6 stars.100% professionals.read more
Sanjeev Bhalla
Ashoori Law is a professional law firm with a great team. We had applied for my daughter's change of status visa and they handled it pretty well and we got the status change without any difficulty. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who... wishes to engage a immigration law firm. They will do a great job as was in our case. I'd like to thank Michael and Sergio as well their entire team for the fantastic work work they did for us.read more
Graem Beddoes
Very grateful for the help and guidance in getting our E2
Carolina Marmolejo
Very proffessional law firm. My husband & I appreciated their attentive, meticulous and detailed work on our case. They always stayed communicated and responsive to us from beginning to end.
Kaveeta Ramnarine
Totally grateful to the Ashoori team for their excellent service. They are very responsive and knowledgeable, they go above and beyond for their clients.Special thank you to Attorneys Rebecca McCarthy and Ehsan Mehri for their continued support in... our process.read more
Shyam Chandrasekharan
I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for your exceptional guidance and expertise in securing my visa extension approval. Your professionalism, attention to detail, and dedication were instrumental in achieving this success. Your support and clear... communication throughout the process were invaluable. I'm deeply grateful for your outstanding work.read more
Malia Hi’ilani
Ashoori Law is a very knowledgeable and thorough law firm, with a great team. They gave me confidence in my business plan by providing a free discovery call to see if it was worth pursuing. Very personable and available for all of my questions or... concerns throughout the process. I was granted my E2 change of status successfully. I would highly recommend them for all of your immigration needs.read more
Israt Jahan
AshooriLaw is a great choice for our case.they response fast and very helpful.
Beth Jinks
Ashoori Law again handled my green card travel document renewal application professionally, and they accurately predicted the processing time. I've tackled similar paperwork alone before, but have now been working with Ashoori for about five years... because they provide peace of mind that everything is handled correctly. Highly recommend.read more
Chris Lejeune
At first I was hesitant hiring a lawyer from outside Texas that no one I knew personally dealt with however I am glad I did. These guys are very helpful and friendly. Their knowledge of my case and procedures was outstanding. 5 stars all day long.
Yuvraj Singh
I would highly recommend Ashoori law for any kind of immigration services. They are fast, their process is easy and they are professional. I would highly suggest them handle your immigration cases.
Mazen Hanana
Thank you for your amazing services as well as for your prompt response to all my queries.Your professional experience was very helpful in submitting, approving and getting my Re-entry permit
Very great! Love, love, love Ashoori Law and his team. They make you feel like family. This is the team that will definitely get the job done. Very friendly and professional!
Nyoka Bandoo
Very professional and looks out for your best interest at heart!
arsalan pervez
Hello sir u have watsap number
My wife & I recently engaged the services of Ashoori Law for Immigration services, and I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with their expertise and professionalism. From the moment I contacted them, they demonstrated a deep understanding of my... case and provided insightful advice that put me at ease. Their legal team, led by Micheal, displayed an exceptional grasp of the intricacies involved in my situation. The Ashoori Law team not only guided me through the entire legal process but also took the time to answer all my questions in a clear and concise manner. Their attention to detail and dedication to my case truly set them apart. I am pleased with the overall outcome and would recommend Ashoori Law for their top-notch legal services.read more
Before contacting Michael Ashoori's firm, I had spoken to a few Immigration lawyers, NONE was as patient and responsive as Michael. His firm scheduled a call with an Attorney who turned out to be the most efficient and brilliant lawyer ever.... Stephanie DiPietro was simply amazing. The detail in her notes, cover letter and crisp responses to my plentiful enquires mostly done with a smile was always reassuring. I highly recommend this firm as they are worth much more than they charge.read more
I had an exceptional experience with Ashoori Law. I hired Ashoori Law Firm to help with my immigration process. They assigned me a dedicated legal assistant, Jeser, and an attorney, Matthew, to guide me through the process. I am truly grateful for... the responsiveness of Jeser and Matthew. They consistently answered all my questions and helped me prepare all the documents for the application. The team's friendliness and remarkable expertise stand out. I highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone seeking legal services for immigration.read more
Anas Khan
Michael's firm has been very helpful in processing, filing and taking the Re-entry permit to its successful approval. I needed help as I had to travel due to personal emergency for an extended duration and had a lot of questions with no time to... think. They gave us time and clarified all the questions over call, email giving proper directions. Some of the videos on YouTube posted by Michael also helped me figure out that I could reach out to them to take my application forwardThanks to Matthew, Clara, Milena and all the folks who helped.read more
Alyssa Sanders
I highly recommend this lawyer for all immigration needs. They were so extremely patient with my situation and my questions, and definitely legitimately cared about the experience had with them. Immigration can be a very difficult and scary... experience and they definitely offered peace of mind. Very Affordable for the quality of services provided. I would definitely use them again in the future and recommend for immigrantion law needsread more
Fauzia Usman
Thankyou so much Michael Ashoori and your Immigration Attorney Shruti Bali and all team member to help me process me and my family case of E2 Investor Visa. It took Approx. 10 months from Ontario Canada. I Never visit IN person to this Firm,... everything deal and process online. Ashoori Law serve Great Professional Service. Highly recommend.read more
Sonia Rathour
Ashoori Law Firm has the most loyal Representatives and lawyers who really cares about their client. They always available to answer any question you have regarding your case and always give the best advise for your best.I got so lucky to have... immigration case in their Hand.read more
Dinesh Perera
I am so glad I chose Ashoori Law for my E2 process. They handled my case professionally from start to finish. My circumstances were somewhat complicated and needed special attention in order to get me across the finish line. I must state that I was... extremely fortunate to have had Shruti as my attorney handling my case. She was always very responsive to all my questions and cleared my doubts in every instance. All documents were very carefully handled by her and checked over and over again prior to submission, which i believe is the key to getting the E2 approved. Thank you Michael, Shruti and the entire team for a professional and successful job done.read more
Next Reviews
Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.