U.S. Employment Authorization
F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to seek employment under limited circumstances. Students may not begin any employment prior to receiving work authorization. This section covers the various types of employment eligibility students may seek in J-1 or F-1 status. It is students’ responsibility to understand their on- and off-campus work eligibility.
With authorization, eligible F-1 and J-1 students may work on-campus as student assistants, tutors, teaching assistants, etc. SF State student employees may work up to 20 hours per week (part-time) during the Spring and Fall semesters and up to 40 hours per week (full-time) during Summer sessions and semester breaks.
Rules governing volunteering and unpaid internships are complex, as this is an area where immigration regulations and labor laws intersect. Students must understand relevant regulations so that they do not violate any laws by participating in unauthorized employment.
The Social Security Number (SSN) is primarily intended to identify participants in the U.S. federal government's Social Security Program. SSNs are generally assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States and are used to report their wages to the government.
Many international students mistakenly believe that they must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) before they can work in the U.S. However, this is incorrect. A Social Security Number (SSN) is not a U.S. work authorization. Even if an international or exchange student already has an SSN, it does not imply that the student has U.S. work authorization. In essence, an SSN does not verify the eligibility of international or exchange students to work in the U.S.
Career & Leadership Development (CLD) equips SF State's diverse student and alumni population with modern resources that assist, guide, and foster their leadership, professional, and career advancement.
J-1 Exchange Students Only
Academic Training allows eligible J-1 exchange students to gain work experience in their field of study (as it appears on the student’s DS-2019) by participating in off-campus internship and employment opportunities.
J-1 exchange students may request off-campus work authorization in the event of lost exchange program funding. Loss of funding must result from unforeseen circumstances outside the student's control. Off-campus work authorization will only be considered if on-campus employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient.
J-1 exchange students who believe they qualify for Economic Hardship should contact email@example.com.
F-1 International Students Only
F-1 students are on CPT during their programs at SF State
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization available for eligible F-1 international students. With an approved CPT, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for a specific time frame in a specific role that is an integral part of their major.
F-1 students are on Pre-Completion OPT during their programs and Post-Completion OPT after they complete their programs at SF State
Optional practical training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization available for eligible F-1 international students. With an approved OPT, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for a specific time frame in roles that are an integral part of their major.
F-1 students are on STEM OPT after their Post-Completion OPT
STEM OPT extension is a temporary employment authorization available for specific eligible F-1 international students currently on Post-Completion OPT. With an approved STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for a specific time frame in roles that are an integral part of their major.
F-1 students receive cap gap extension after their H-1B status is pending
F-1 students who have been granted H-1B status receive automatically extension of F-1 status and post-completion OPT until September 30.
Review the resource above and fill out the following request form for an updated I-20 if you are eligible for H-1B Cap-Gap Extension:
- Once a F-1 student submits a request through Qualtrics. OIP will review their I-20 request and email them an updated I-20 within 5 business days.
- Once a F-1 student receives their electronically signed I-20 over email, they must print the I-20 and physically sign it in blue ink in order to use the I-20 at the U.S. Port of Entry.
As of Nov. 1, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published SEVP Policy Guidance: Use of Electronic Signatures and Transmission for the Form I-20, which permanently establishes the procedures for the use of electronic signatures and transmission of the Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status."
This guidance permits international students advisors/designated school official (DSO) to electronically sign (digital signature) and email the Form I-20 to F-1 students and any dependents. However, students must print out their digital I-20 and sign it to have a physical copy at the U.S. Port of Entry.
F-1 students are on economic hardship during their program at SF State
F-1 student may request off-campus work authorization based on unforeseen and severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control if other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient. This work authorization is issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
U.S. Regulations allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to suspend or alter rules regarding duration of status, full course of study, and employment eligibility, for specific groups of F-1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. This collection of benefits is known as "Special Student Relief" (SSR). See Special Student Relief | Study in the States (dhs.gov)
Last updated: November 2023
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