Employment for F-1 Visa Students

What is Employment?

Employment is any type of work performed or service provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefits, regardless of the name which is given (e.g. internship, short-term contract, scholarship, helping out at a family business, etc.). F-1 students may not work without authorization. 

If a Designated School Official (DSO) becomes aware that an F-1 international student is working illegally, he/she is required by law to report the offense to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Employment Categories for F-1 Students:

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students are eligible to work in accordance with Department Homeland Security on campus for a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. When school is not in session during winter and summer breaks, students can work more than 20 hours per week provided that they are registered for the next required semester. To apply for on-campus employment, students must apply through the Center for Career Development’s website, Handshake. Once students have found and been offered an on-campus job, they will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Students can request a letter to show at their SSN appointment through the ISSS portal.

Off-Campus Employment

Students can participate in off-campus employment ONLY in three conditions: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM-OPT Extension).  ISSS offers CPT and OPT workshops every semester so please visit ISSS’s Engage page or the Immigration Programs & Social Events page for a list of upcoming sessions.

Please contact our office for more information:

International Student & Scholar Services

Rowley 1004
2807 N. Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22207-4299 U.S.A.

Phone: 703-526-6922
e-mail: isss@marymount.edu

Qualified students enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines may be allowed a 24-month STEM extension after their OPT. However, students applying must already have an employer lined up, the employment must be paid, and the employer must be E-verified.It is recommended that the STEM Optional Practical Training extension be requested 90 days before the current OPT end date. Students must be employed and the employer must be registered on E-Verify. Both the student and employer must fill out the Form I-983 training plan together.

To see if your degree qualifies for the STEM OPT extension, check the following form:

How to Apply for  STEM OPT extension

  • Fill out the I-983 training plan with your e-verify employer
  • Fill out the I-765 employment authorization form like you did before for OPT, but using the category for STEM-OPT
  • When you are ready to apply, upload your documents to the ISSS Portal for STEM OPT Application Request. An ISSS advisor will contact you after reviewing your documents, will issue the STEM OPT I-20 and will set an appointment with you.
  • Start filling out the USCIS application on the USCIS portal but, like with your OPT application, do NOT submit until you have met with an ISSS advisor and they have given you permission to submit. 

Resources for STEM OPT

While the STEM OPT application is pending

  • The 24-month STEM extension period begins automatically the day after the initial OPT ends.
  • Students are authorized to continue working for 180 days after the initial OPT end date, as long as the STEM OPT application was properly filed on time.
  • Together, the employer and the student have to update the I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification).
    • For Section 2, List A: students should use their current EAD information, and under additional information write: “180-day ext.”
    • For more information about the I-9, visit Handbook for employers and FAQ’s about I-9

 Once you have your STEM OPT: Employment Reporting Requirements

Throughout the STEM OPT extension period, the student and employer must comply with the reporting, training, supervision, evaluation, wage, documentation, and other obligations specified in the regulations and on Form I-983. All employer reports should be done through the ISSS portal through an OPT-STEM OPT Employer Report Request. Please read through the following situations which require reporting carefully:

  • Validation report every 6 months. Make a validation report to the ISSS office every six months starting from the date the extension begins. The validation should confirm the accuracy of your name; your physical and mailing addresses; your employer’s name and address; and the status of your employment. This six-month validation report is due to ISS within 10 business days of each reporting date.
  • Annual self-evaluation of training. You must complete the “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of Form I-983 within 12 months of the listed STEM OPT start date. At the end of the STEM OPT extension, you must conduct a second, final self-assessment. Once the evaluations are complete, the student must collect signatures from their employer and submit the form I- 983 to the ISSS portal through the same type of OPT-STEM OPT Employer Report, who will upload the copies to SEVIS and will keep it in the student’s physical record.
  • Maintain your employment. You may not accrue more than 150 days of unemployment during your entire 36-month (12 months standard OPT and 24 months STEM OPT) OPT period.
  • Revised Form I-983 if there are material changes. Report to ISSS any material changes to or material deviations from your Form I-983 Training Plan by providing  with a revised Form I-983 within 5 days of the change. This means if your position changed, your supervisor changed, the location’s address changed, or any training plans changed, you must update your I-983 and submit it to ISSS.
  • Change or addition of employers. If you wish to change employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify and employ you for at least 20 hours per week, and the job must directly relate to your STEM degree. If you begin a new job with a new employer less than 10 days after leaving your prior employer, you simply submit a new Form I-983 to ISSS. If the period of time between employers is longer than 10 days, you must first report the loss of employment to ISSS within 10 days of stopping work, and later submit a new Form I-983 within 10 days of starting your new employment.
  • Report termination of employment. Both you and your employer have a separate obligation to notify ISSS of any termination of your employment. Your employer must notify us within 5 business days of the termination, and you must notify us within 10 days of the termination.
  • Report changes to your name and address. You must notify ISS within 10 days of any change to your legal name or your mailing or physical addresses.
  • Complete the OPT-STEM OPT EAD Upload Request. Make sure ISSS has on file a photocopy of the front and back of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) through this form after you have received the STEM OPT Extension.