Study and Work in America

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Can international students in America do paid work?

International students at US universities and colleges can only work under limited circumstances. Other countries offer better opportunities for part-time student work.

Only an F1 visa holder is eligible to work while studying. An F1 student visa holder may work on campus. This is for up to 20 hours per week, or full time when school is not in session (such as during holidays or annual vacation).

After a year of study, an F1 visa holder may work off campus in a role related to their area of study.

  • You need to apply to USCIS for a work permit that authorizes you to work off-campus. Apply through your designated school official, demonstrate a special need, and work no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.
  • F1 students may have 3 types of off-campus employment: Curricular Practical Training; Optional Practical Training (pre-completion or post-completion); and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Optional Practical Training Extension.

Working after graduating

International student doing online work in the United States.The United States allows international graduates who have found employment relevant to their degree to stay for a year or slightly more. During this time, graduates may be able to secure long-term employment sponsorship.

F-1 international students can qualify for one-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization for every degree they earn. Students with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree in a STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) qualify for an additional 17 months of employment.

Students wanting to live permanently should try to get an employer to sponsor them for H-1B temporary professional employment status while working with OPT permission.

  • You can be in H-1B status for at least 6 years.
  • While in H-1B status, you may gain the necessary experience to qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa.
  • Getting a visa usually requires a job offer where no qualified US workers are available.