Student Employment & Internships
Before starting any job or internship, visit the International Scholars team in Student Affairs. Do not start any job or internship before confirming that you are eligible.
After entering the U.S. in initial student status, you may apply for on-campus jobs. However you must be enrolled in full-time studies for one academic year (two semesters) before being eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Occupational Practical Training (OPT). Unauthorized employment is one of the most serious violations of F-1 student status. Any unlawful employment - even for one day - even if you did not know it was illegal - poses a serious threat to your ability to remain in or return to the United States. You should always speak with a member of the International Scholars team before accepting any employment or internship.
Definition of Employment
Employment is any type of work performed in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other benefit for the work performed, this activity may still be defined as employment, you should speak with a member of the International Scholar team in Student Affairs for further questions about unpaid work. You may not work without payment for a job that would otherwise be paid to someone else.
F-1 Employment Options
- On-Campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training or CPT
- Occupational Practical Training or OPT
- Social Security Number
Current students in F-1 status who are maintaining valid status may be eligible for on-campus employment. On-campus employment:
- encompasses jobs that are paid directly by Olin College payroll;
- is limited to 15 hours/week when classes are in session;
- may be full-time (up to 40 hours/week) during official school breaks;
- may include multiple jobs as long as the total hours are less than 15 when classes are in session or 40 during school breaks.
Before starting any on-campus job, you must connect with the International Scholars team in Student Affairs (StAR) and Human Resources (HR).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization granted to students in F-1 status for work that is integral to the student's major. CPT enables students to apply and practice the knowledge and skills gained in their academic program. Internships for CPT must be approved by the International Scholars team in StAR. Students must also be registered for the course OIP 1000 if they are taking a summer internshipt. OIP 1001 is for internships during the fall or spring semester. To register for OIP 1000 or OIP 1001 visit the Office of Post Graduate Planning (PGP).
- Must currently be maintaining valid F-1 status.
- Must be enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (two semesters) before applying for CPT.
- You cannot be on a Leave of Absence (LOA) or Study Away and apply for CPT.
- CPT authorization is date and employer specific. You cannot work outside of the dates of the internship and you cannot change internships mid-semester.
- CPT may begin before classes start but must be completed by the last day of exams each semester.
- Internships may be renewed but students must register to take OIP each semester they apply for CPT and the internship. Students will need to provide an updated letter with new start and end dates so that a new I-20 can be issued.
- Occurs before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20.
- Training relates directly to the student’s major area of study.
- Training is an integral part of the school’s established curriculum.
- Designated school official (DSO) has authorized CPT in SEVIS, and the authorization can be seen on the student’s new Form I-20.
- Student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.
- Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time.
- During classes you are limited to 20 hours of CPT per week.
- During breaks you are limited to 40 hours of CPT per week.
- One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for OPT.
Before starting any internship or CPT, you must connect with the International Scholars team in Student Affairs (StAR) and Post Graduate Planning (PGP). Failure to complete OIP coursework can jeopardize your F-1 status.
OPT is a benefit of F-1 status that allows students to work off-campus in a field related to their major. OPT is most often utilized by Olin students following completion of their academic program.
There is a limit of 12 months of full-time OPT per degree level, and a 24 month OPT extension for certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degree holders.
- Part-time OPT (up to 20 hours/week) is deducted at half of the full-time rate (two months of part-time OPT = one month of full time OPT) before completion of studies. After completion of studies, part-time OPT is counted at the full-time rate.
- Full-time OPT (more than 20 hours/week) can only be granted during official college breaks or after completion of studies.
- Pre-completion OPT is Optional Practical Training you use before finishing your program of study.
- Post-completion OPT is Optional Practical Training you use after finishing your program of study.
- The 24-month OPT extension for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field.
- You must currently be maintaining valid F-1 status and must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year before applying for OPT.
- You are only authorized to work within the dates specified on your EAD card.
- EAD card, known popularly as a "work permit", is an employment authorization document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides temporary employment authorization to noncitizens in the United States.
- If you do not complete your academic program by the date originally specified, contact the International Scholars Team in Student Affairs; you may not be eligible to work with the EAD you received.
- In order to maintain F-1 status while on OPT, students must report address and employment changes to the International Scholars team and must not exceed 90 days of unemployment during the entire OPT period.
- Training relates directly to the student’s major area of study.
- P/DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS.
- Student does not have to secure training before the DSO can recommend OPT.
- Allows the student to work for any employer, as long as the training relates to the student’s major course of study
- Can occur before or after the student’s program end date.
- Periods of OPT cannot overlap.
- Students are eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT authorization, when they change to a higher educational level.
A Social Security number (SSN) is a unique identification number assigned by the United States federal government to monitor and tax wages earned by employees in the U.S. It does not grant employment authorization. The SSN is required for all individuals who are employed in the United States. It is not required to obtain a driver’s license, nor should it be required to open a bank account, rent a car, purchase a cell phone or rent an apartment.
F-1 STUDENTS are eligible to obtain a SSN if they are in valid F-1 status and have been offered an on-campus job; or they have been authorized for off-campus employment (Curricular or Optional Practical Training).
Bring to the Social Security Office:
- Completed and printed SSN application (Form SS-5): www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5.htm (for item #3 on the form, select legal alien allowed to work)
- I-94 (arrival/departure record); printed from: www.cbp.gov/I94
- Form I-20 (F-1)
- Proof of SSN eligibility from the International Scholars Team in StAR.