Off-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students can work off-campus, but you MUST apply for authorization before beginning employment.
(Additional information about each employment option is available by clicking on the tabs below the table)

Employment Update

If you are currently on OPT and you recently got a job or your employer information has changed, please enter your employer information here.

Address Update

If you are currently on OPT and your address and/or name has changed, please update your address here.

Off-Campus Employment Options

Employment Option Eligibility Time Limit Hours allowed per week
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
→ At least one academic year in F-1 status.
→ Must have employment offer related to field of study.
→ Must be an established part of curriculum or an internship for credit.
→ Can be authorized in one year increments up to the program end date, but a year or more of full-time CPT makes you ineligible for OPT.
→ CPT cannot be authorized after graduation.
Part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
At least one academic year in F-1 immigration status. → One year per degree level. Extensions are possible (see OPT page for details).
→ Can work before program end date or after graduation.

→ 20 hours per week while you are enrolled in classes.
→ 40 hours per week during holidays & summer vacation.

F-1 Economic Hardship → At least one year in F-1 status.

→ Must prove economic hardship due to unforeseen events.
→ Must have tried  other employment.

Granted in one year increments, which can be applied for until program end date. → 20 hours per week while you are enrolled in classes.
→ 40 hours per week during holidays and summer vacation.
F-1 International Organization F-1 immigration status (no waiting period) Granted in one year increments, which can be applied for until program end date. Part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
J-1 Academic Training Must have offer of employment related to your field of study. Depends on the length of study. Can be approved for the same amount of time as the length of study (before or after completion) up to 18 months. Part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). Part-time academic training counted as full-time.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

Students usually use CPT to work in internships related to their field of study. In order to apply, you must have an offer of employment and the internship must be an established part of your curriculum or you must receive academic credit.

What is curricular practical training (CPT)?
Curricular practical training is work or training in your field of study. Curricular practical training must be an integral part of an established curriculum, a required or optional internship for academic credit. Currently at Loyola, only Business, Communication, Music Therapy, and Education have internships for credit, but other departments have developed independent studies for students allowing them to have a practical work experience.

Can I be paid?
CPT can be paid or unpaid. The restriction is that it must be an internship for credit or a required part of the degree program.

How many hours per week can I work?
The number of hours you work is not limited on CPT, but is simply reported as either full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (less than 20 hours per week). If you have 12 months of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for Optional Practical Training.

Who can apply?
In order for you to be eligible for CPT, you must have been in lawful F-1 student status for at least one full academic year.

When can I apply?
You must apply at least one week before you begin the internship.

How do I apply?
You must submit the following documents to CIE:

  1. The Application for CPT
  2. Job offer letter with the contract or agreement from your academic department
  3. Proof of class registration for internship credit

The Center for International Education will submit information on your internship through SEVIS (specific employer, part-time or full-time and the specific dates) and will issue a new I-20 endorsed for CPT.

FAQs for Students Applying for F-1 OPT

OPT can be used before or after graduation and you do not need an offer of employment, but it can take the Department of Homeland Security up to 3 months to process your application.

FAQs for Students Applying for F-1 OPT (Click for a PDF version of the information below).

What is optional practical training?

Optional practical training is work or training in your field of study. It must be directly related to your major field of study and appropriate for your level of education. It may be full time or part time, paid or unpaid and may occur anywhere in the United States. Up to 12 months of practical training can be authorized for each degree program. You are eligible for another 12 months of practical training when you change to a higher educational level.

When can I do OPT?

  • During your annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session as long as you are currently enrolled, are eligible and intend to register for the next semester.
  • While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours per week.
  • After completion of your course of study or after completion of all course requirements for the degree excluding thesis or equivalent.

Who can apply?
In order for you to be eligible to apply for practical training, you must have been in lawful F-1 student status for at least one full academic year. You do not need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT.

When can I apply?
You can apply up to 120 days before you graduate and up to 60 days after you graduate. However, in order to ensure adequate processing time, you must turn in all of your application materials to CIE no later than 30 days after you graduate.

We recommend that you apply earlier rather than later as it can take 3 months for Immigration to process your application. However, if you are not certain that you will finish all of your degree requirements by the date of graduation, you should wait to apply until after you graduate. NOTE: you must apply for OPT before you leave the U.S.

If you want to use part of your OPT during the summer or while school is in session, you must apply at least 3 months before your job will begin (to allow for processing by Immigration). 

How do I apply?
You must submit the following documents to the Center for International Education:

  • The Application for OPT
  • Your passport, I-94 and all I-20s that have been issued to you. A new SEVIS I-20 will be issued by CIE and you will need to sign it prior to submission of your application.
  • I-765 - EAD application (available in Mercy 301)
  • $380 check made payable to "United States Department of Homeland Security"
  • A letter from your academic adviser.
  • Two color full frontal/passport photos that are not more than 30 days old when the application is submitted to USCIS.
  • Copies of all EADs (if you have been granted OPT before).

CIE will create an OPT I-20 which you will need to sign. Copies of the I-20 and all of the other application materials will then be sent to the Department of Homeland Security for processing.

When can I begin practical training?
It takes approximately three months to receive the “EAD” from the Texas Service Center. Once you have received your EAD and the date for employment is current, you may begin practical training. You may not begin your practical training until you receive your EAD.

Can I change employers?

You may change employers after practical training has been authorized provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone having your level of education.

What is my immigration status while on OPT?
While on OPT you are still considered to be in F-1 student status under Loyola’s I-20. You must inform CIE of any changes in address within 10 days of moving and CIE will update your record in SEVIS.

Can I travel outside the United States before I receive my EAD (Employment Authorization Document)?
If you are still in school, you can travel as you would normally.  If you have already graduated, we do not recommend it, but if you choose to travel outside of the U.S. after you graduate but before you receive your EAD, you must carry with you the I-765 receipt notice, your I-20 endorsed for OPT and a valid F-1 visa and passport.

Can I travel outside the United States after I receive my EAD?
Once you receive your EAD you should travel with your EAD, a valid F-1 visa and passport, your signed I-20, and a letter from your employer explaining the type of training and the dates of training/employement. Students who do not meet these requirements may not be allowed to reenter the U.S. Check with the Center for International Education before contemplating travel outside the U.S.

What happens if I don't get a job while on OPT?
During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment. NOTE: For regular post-completion OPT, the employment does NOT have to be paid employment. Therefore, a student who is self-employed (including performance majors with regular “gigs”), interning or volunteering in a position directly related to the academic field would be considered “employed” for the purposes of OPT employment.

If the cumulative total of your unemployment reaches more than 90 days, you will be considered to be “out of status.” For example, if you requested an OPT start date of June 20, 2008 and you do not find a job by September 18, you would be considered out of status. Another example is if you requested an OPT start date of June 20, 2008 and you find a job beginning July 30, you would be unemployed for 40 days, so you would be considered to be in status. However, if you were to stop working at that job October 10 and you could not find another job until December 5, you would then be unemployed for another 54 days. So, your cumulative total unemployment would equal 94 days and you would be considered out of status.

We are required to report the fact that you are out of status to the Department of Homeland Security, which means that if you are unemployed for more than 90 days, you would no longer be in legal F-1 status in the U.S. Also, your eligibility for future benefits could be affected. For example, if you applied for a work visa or permanent residency at a future date, you might have to pay additional fees, apply for a visa from outside of the US or even be denied based on the fact that you were out of status as an F-1 student. If you apply for a work visa after engaging in OPT, you should be prepared to provide "objective" evidence of employment while on OPT.

You should keep all documentation of your job search efforts (e.g. interviews, letters of inquiry, rejection letters, etc.) because you may be asked by Immigration at some point in the future to prove that you were actively seeking employment while you were on OPT.

Can I extend my OPT?
As an F-1 student you are usually only eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each advancing degree level (e.g. if you request 12 months after a Bachelor’s degree, you would be eligible for another 12 months of OPT after a Master’s degree, etc.) However, there a couple of instances in which you may be able to extend your OPT: The H-1B Cap Gap and the STEM extension.

  • H-1B Cap Gap: OPT students who have applied for an H-1B work visa and are on the wait-list or have pending or approved petitions are eligible to have their OPT work authorization “automatically extended” until the start date of the H-1B. For example, if your OPT work authorization ends June 1st and you have an H-1B approved to start October 1st, your OPT work authorization would be extended through to October 1st. If your employer files an H-1B petition on your behalf, you should be informed about the cap-gap extension by your company’s immigration lawyer, but if you have any questions, you can contact Kristy Magner at kmagner@loyno.edu.
  • STEM Extension: The 12-month limit on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) will be extended by 17 months, for a total of 29 months, for bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree students studying in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field that is on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. At Loyola, the following degrees are on the STEM list: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. As well, your employer is required to be enrolled in the E-Verify program in order for you to qualify for an extension. If you are not sure whether your degree fits into one of the STEM categories, you can email Kristy Magner at kmagner@loyno.edu.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is not exhaustive and is meant as a guide. Please remember that each student’s situation is different and therefore may require a different response. All information is subject to change pending changes in immigration regulations and interpretations. If you have questions about any of this information or if you would like to discuss the specifics of your situation contact CIE at (504) 864-7550 or cie@loyno.edu.

FAQs for Students on Post-Completion OPT

Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your request for post-completion Optional Practical Training, you should first make a copy of the EAD (Emplyoment Authorization Document) for your records.

Has your name, email address or physical address changed? Click here to submit your updated information.

Read these FAQs carefully to ensure that you correctly maintain your F- 1 status while on OPT.

FAQs for Students on Post-Completion OPT (Click for a PDF version of this information).

What is my status while on OPT?
While on OPT you are still considered to be in F-1 student status under Loyola’s I-20. If you travel outside of the United States while on post-completion OPT you must re-enter the U.S. with your F-1 visa. DO NOT RE-ENTER WITH A TOURIST VISA. If you enter with a tourist visa and work, that is considered illegal employment. This could permanently bar you from entering the U.S. in the future.

What do I have to report to CIE?
You must inform CIE of any changes of address within 10 days of moving and CIE will update your record in SEVIS. Students on OPT are also required to report the name and address of their employer and any interruption of employment. Please click here to enter this information.

What happens if I don't get a job while on OPT?
During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment. NOTE: For regular post-completion OPT, the employment does NOT have to be paid employment. Therefore, a student who is self-employed (including performance majors with regular "gigs"), interning or volunteering in a position directly related to the academic field would be considered "employed" for purposes of OPT employment.

If the cumulative total of your unemployment reaches more than 90 days, you will be considered "out of status." For example, if you requested an OPT start date of June 20, 2008 and you do not find a job by September 18, you would be considered out of status. Another example is if you requested an OPT start date of June 20, 2008 and you found a job beginning July 30, you would be unemployed for 40 days, so you would be considered in status. However, if you were to stop working at that job October 10 and you could not find another job until December 5, you would then be unemployed for another 54 days. So, your cumulative total unemployment would equal 94 days and you would be considered out of status.

The Center for International Education (CIE)is required to report your employer information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so if you do not report employment to CIE, your employer information will not be passed on to DHS. In such a case, DHS will assume that you do not have a job and you will be considered out of status. Being unemployed for more than 90 days could affect your eligibility for future benefits, such as a work visa and it is possible that DHS could decide to look up who is out of status while on OPT and take some other sort of action.

Therefore, you should keep all documentation of your job search efforts (e.g. interviews, letters of inquiry, rejection letters, etc.) because you may be asked by DHS at some point in the future to prove that you were actively seeking employment while you were on OPT.

Can I change employers?
You may change employers after practical training has been authorized provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone having your level of education.

When can I start working?
You must follow the authorization dates on your EAD (Employment Authorization Document). Any employment outside of those dates is unauthorized.

I'm not sure if my job fits the criteria for OPT. What should I do?
If you are unsure whether your employment position fits the criteria of OPT you should contact your academic advisor at Loyola and explain the job requirements. If your advisor agrees that the job fits the criteria, he/she should write CIE that the job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone having your level of education. We will put that documentation in your student file for future reference, if necessary.

Can I travel outside the United States after I receive my EAD?
Immigration has been interpreting the issue of traveling while on OPT much more strictly. Regulations explicitly state that once you graduate and while you're on OPT, if you leave the U.S. you must be returning to resume employment. While CIE cannot guarantee that you will be admitted to the U.S., if you decide to travel aborad, you should adhere to the following instructions. If you are on OPT and have a a job offer you must submit the following documentation at the Port of Entry:

  • Current SEVIS I-20 signed (on page 3) by either Debbie or Kristy. The signature should be less than 6 months old when you re-enter the U.S.
  • Current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your re-entry.
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  • Letter from your employer (on company letterhead) verifying that you are employed or will be employed in the future (employers must give employment dates); the nature of your job and your travel dates.

If you are on OPT and do NOT have a job or job offer you assume a much greater risk when traveling abroad. Immigration has stated in a December 15, 2004 notice that if your OPT has been approved and you depart the U.S. before you get a job, your OPT ends and you cannot reenter. We DO NOT recommend that you travel if you do not have a job, but if you choose to take the risk, you should attempt to re-enter with:

  • Current SEVIS I-20 signed (on page 3) by either Debbie or Kristy. The signature should be less than 6 months old when you re-enter the U.S.
  • Current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry.
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  • Documentation of job search efforts- ex. Past or upcoming interviews, cover letters to prospective employers, resume posting on internet job search sites, etc.

My F-1 student visa is going to expire while I'm on OPT and I want to travel. Can I renew it?
If you attempt to renew your F-1 visa while on OPT, please be aware that it may be denied depending on your specific situation. Since everyone's circumstances are different, contact CIE to discuss the details. If you do not intend to travel , you may remain in the U.S. while on OPT with an expired F-1 visa.

I was once arrested while in the U.S. My F-1 student or B-2 tourist visa has now expired. Can I renew it ?
We do NOT recommend that you attempt to renew any of your visas while on OPT in this case. ANY arrest or conviction will cause a positive "hit" in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and could delay visa issuance for several weeks or result i the denial of a visa. For more details, see Arrests, Convictions and Immigration Consequences on the CIE website. If this situation applies to you, contact CIE to discuss your options.

Are my wages subject to Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax withholding?
Social Security and Medicare taxes should not be withheld from OPT wages unless a student is considered a resident alien for tax purposes. Most F-1 students are considered nonresident aliens and therefore are not subject to Social Security and Medicare tax withholding unless thay have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years. For complete details on whether you qualify as a resident alien or a nonresident alien, refer to International Revenue Servidce Publication 519.

What can I do if FICA taxes have been taken out of my check by mistake?
If you determine that you are a nonresident alien under the guidelines in IRS Pub 519, notify your employer so that your wiuthholding status can be changed in the company's payroll office. You should request a refund of previously withheld FICA taxes. Some employers agree to do this. If your employer does not, then you need to request a reimbursment from the IRS by following the instructions on the IRS website http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq13-5html and submitting the appropriate documentation. For all tax inquiries refer to www.irs.gov.

I lost my EAD. How can I get a replacement?
You will need to apply to the Texas Service Center for a new card. This requires that you submit a copy of your original application, a copy of your lost EAD, as well as a new fee. You may continue working with the same company while your application is being processed. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to travel while your application is pending since you will not have the EAD which is one of the documents required into the U.S. Please contact CIE for assistance.

Can I attend school while on OPT?
The primary purpose of OPT is to give you the opportunity to work in your field of study. You may, however, attend school as a part-time student while you are on OPT. However, if you start a new degree program (i.e. Master's or Law School) as a full-time student you would no longer be eligible to work on OPT.  Notify CIE if you wish to enroll in a new degree program so that we can create a new I-20 (if you will still be at Loyola) or transfer your SEVIS record. Once you transfer to the new school or the start date of your new program is active, your OPT is cancelled.

Can I extend my OPT?
As an F-1 student you are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each advancing degree level (e.g. if you request 12 months after a Bachelor's degree, you would be eligible for another 12 months of OPT after a Master's degree, etc.) It is possible to extend OPT work authorization in two different circumstances:

  • H-1B Cap Gap: OPT students who have applied for an H-1B work vis and are on the wait-list or have pending/approved petitions are eligible to have their OPT work authorization "automatically extended" until the start date of the H-1B (October 1st). For example, if your OPT work authorization ends June 1st and you have an H-1B approved to start October 1st, your OPT work authorization would be extended through to October 1st. If your employer files an H-1B petition on your behalf you should be informed about the cap-gap extension by your company's immigration lawyer, but if you have any questions, you email Kristy Magner at kmagner@loyno.edu.
  • STEM Extension:The 12 month limit on F-1 Optional Practical Training will be extended by 17 months, for a total of 29 months, for bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree students studying in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field that is on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. At Loyola, the following degrees are on the STEM list: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. As well, your employer is required to be enrolled in the E-Verify program in order for you to qualify for an extension.

What are my options after I complete OPT?
You have a 60-day grace period in which to transfer to a new degree program, change your status, or return to your home country.

I want to remain in the U.S. and apply for an H-1B work visa. What should I do?
Since H1-B visas are employer-specific, you should communicate with your employer since they will need to sponsor you for the visa. These petitions are usually handled by immigration attorneys. You can read more about the H-1B petition process the H-1B page or contact CIE.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is not exhaustive and is meant as a guide. Please remember that each student's situation is different and therefore, may require a different response. All information is subject to changes in immigration regulations and interpretations. If you have a questions about any of this information, or you would like to discuss the specifics of your situation contact the Center for International Education, at (504) 864-7550 or cie@loyno.edu.

F-1 Economic Hardship

In order to apply for Economic Hardship, you must prove that unforeseen circumstances have caused you to face severe economic hardship and that all other employment options have been exhausted.

In some instances, students in the F-1 immigration status are able to apply for off-campus work based on severe economic hardship.

To be eligible, students must be able to demonstrate economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances. For example:

  • Death of a student's sponsor
  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Devaluation of the country's currency
  • A substantial unexpected increase in tuition

Students must also provide evidence that:

  • Other employment options are not available, including Optional Practical Training, and on-campus employment is either not available or inadequate to meet the student's needs
  • They are in good academic standing
  • Are maintaining their immigration status by being registered as full-time students
  • Have been in F-1 immigration status for at least one academic year

Severe economic hardship applications are determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

  • If the application is approved, the DHS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) to the student.
  • Students are limited to working 20 hours per week while enrolled in classes. During summers and school vacations, students are able to work full-time.

F-1 students interested in this employment option will need to speak with Kristy Magner at CIE.

F-1 International Organization Employment Authorization

If you've been offered employment by a "recognized international organization" you may qualify for international organization employment.

F-1 International Organization work permission is a type of employment authorization for F-1 students who have been offered an internship with a recognized international organization. Such organizations include the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, and others. Click here for a list of qualifying international organizations.

In order to qualify for International Organization employment authorization, you must meet the following criteria:

F-1 students interested in this employment option will need to speak with Kristy Magner at CIE.

J-1 Academic Training

What is Academic Training?

  • Academic Training is employment directly related to your major field of study in the United States. The total amount of Academic Training available depends on the duration of time spent as a full time student.
  • In counting months of authorization, part-time Academic Training counts the same as full-time.
  • Academic Training is date specific and employer specific. You must have a job offer in order to apply for Academic Training.

When and for how long can I participate in Academic Training?

  • J-1 students may participate in academic training, with or without compensation, both while enrolled in school and after completion of the program of study.
  • The training may not exceed the amount of time spent in the course of study and must be approved by CIE before the expiration date of the DS-2019.
  • You may work part-time (20 hours or less) while classes are in session and full-time during school vacation periods.

Who is eligible to apply for Academic Training?

In order to apply for academic training, a J-1 student must meet the following conditions:

  • The student is primarily in the U.S. to study rather than engage in academic training;
  • The training opportunity is directly related to the student's major field of study at the college or university the student is authorized to attend;
  • The student is in good academic standing with the college or university and
  • The student has received written approval in advance from CIE or the program that issued the DS-2019.

Application Procedure

1. The first step is to obtain a job offer from a company. The job offer letter must contain the following:

  • Your job title
  • The specific beginning and ending dates of the employment
  • The specific location of the employment
  • Your salary (evidence of ability to support yourself while engaged in Academic Training)

2. You must also obtain a letter of recommendation from your Academic Advisor in your department at Loyola. The letter must state the following:

  • The goals and objectives of the specific academic training program;
  • A description of the academic training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training;
  • How the training relates to the student's major field of study and
  • Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the exchange visitor student.

3. The Center for International Education will evaluate the proposed employment and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If CIE finds that you meet the eligibility criteria, and the letters contain the required information, then the academic training will be authorized for the period of time requested and a new DS-2019 will be issued for Academic Training.

Managing your Academic Training

  • If you decide to extend your employment, you must receive new authorization for Academic Training before the current authorization has expired.
  • If you decide to change employers, you must also obtain a new authorization. Both situations would require that you follow the same process as your initial authorization.
  • If you fail to obtain proper authorization, you will violate your student status.
  • Although your employment does not need to begin within 30 days of completing your program, your available Academic Training time will begin subtracting 30 days after your completion date.
  • You may not begin your Academic Training until you have received approval from the Center for International Education.  Working without the required authorization is a serious violation of your J-1 status and could result in the loss of benefits normally granted to J-1 students. 

Travel while engaged in Academic Training

If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and re-enter the country to do your J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave; otherwise, you may have trouble reentering the country.

NOTE: If your J-1 Program Sponsor (institution/organization listed in Item #2 of the DS-2019) is not
Loyola University New Orleans, you must contact your Program Sponsor to confirm if you will be eligible
for Academic Training and to coordinate the process for obtaining Academic Training authorization from them. Loyola University New Orleans can not authorize Academic Training for students not under our J-1 Sponsorship.