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Employment can be very difficult and confusing to understand for international students.  Here is a link to the USCIS site explaining the lawful ways an international student may be employed while studying in the United States.  Below is additional information on employment while studying at LaGrange College.

On-Campus Employment
International students may obtain on-campus employment through the LaGrange College Dining Services (ARAMARK) and Campus Services (National). Students can only work for up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. A letter from the DSO stating the student has been approved for on-campus employment will need to be presented to the campus employer and a copy kept on file in the Office of Global Engagement.
Off-Campus Employment
There are only three types of authorized off-campus work available to F-1 students. All of them require the following:
  • completion of one academic year of full-time enrollment.
  • must relate to your major field of study.
  • must be authorized by a DSO in SEVIS and approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
"Volunteering" at a job that is traditionally paid may be considered a violation of status.  Don't work "for free" without first consulting the Office of Global Engagement.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum and related to a student’s major field of study.  It can be alternative work/study, an internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum, paid or unpaid, that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. 
“Integral part of an established curriculum” has been interpreted by SEVP to mean an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training.  Therefore, LaGrange College will authorize CPT when:
  • An internship or practical experience is required of all students before they can complete the program and receive a degree in their major field of study. 
  • An internship or other practical experience is not required but is granted academic credit under a specific course number in the student’s major degree requirement.
CPT is available only before the completion of the student’s degree program and they must have a job offer.  Authorization for CPT may be granted to students who meet the following criteria:
1. Must have a declared major and pursuing a degree at LaGrange College.  
2. Must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year.
This requirement is waived for graduate students whose program requires immediate participation in CPT.
3. Currently maintaining lawful F-1 status 
CPT can only take place in the U.S., however, an international student who wants to engage in an internship for academic credit in their home country may do so if they meet the above eligibility requirements and have approval from their academic adviser and the Career Development Center.  

Approval for CPT will be granted by the academic adviser or department chair, Internship Coordinator in the Career Development Office and a DS0 in the Office of Global Engagement.  The student is required to submit a copy of the job offer letter to the DSO prior to beginning CPT at the beginning of a term and it must:
  • Be written on the company’s letterhead
  • Be addressed to the student
  • Include the job title
  • Provide a job description; must show that it is integrally related to major field of study
  • Employers full address (street, city, state, zip)
  • Specify if the employment is full-time or part-time.  If part-time the number of hours per week the student will work
  • Specify the exact dates of CPT employment
All of the information above is required by federal regulations.
CPT can be approved for part-time (20 hours or less per week) during the fall and spring semester or full-time (over 20 hours per week) during the summer or Interim.  The student will need to pay tuition in the summer.  CPT will not be allowed if an RA/TA is already working another 20 hours per week job on campus.   Students must maintain full-time enrollment while participating in CPT.  
CPT is granted one term at a time and students who use 12 or more months of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT. Part-time CPT does not affect OPT. 
If the student has met the eligibility requirements, understands the federal regulations, and has all departmental and office approvals, the DSO will authorize CPT in SEVIS and issue a new Form I-20 showing this approval on the employment page.  
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is a period of work relating to a student’s major field of study. The aim is to allow students to gain experience through work during or after they get their degree. There are three different types of OPT:
  • Pre-Completion OPT--12 months
  • Post-Completion OPT--12 months
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math OPT Extension--24 months
No offer of employment is needed but you must meet with a DSO in the Office of Global Engagement to request an OPT recommendation in SEVIS. Once OPT has been recommended and you have your newly signed I-20, you'll need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS to receive an Employment Authorization Card (EAD):
  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance-optional.
  • Original USCIS Form I-795 (completed, signed and dated legibly by you).
Item 3 put an address that will be valid at least until you receive the EAD card because your EAD card will not be forwarded if you move. 
Item 16 marked as follows:
(c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT (beginning and finishing before the I-20 end date)
(c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT (beginning after the I-20 end date but within your 60 day grace period)
Item 10, enter your most recent I-94 number. 
  • Photocopy of the new I-20 with OPT recommendation
  • Photocopies of all your previous I-20s
  • Photocopy of previous EAD, if applicable
  • Photocopy of most recent F-1 visa page (except Canadians)
  • Photocopy of your passport pages showing your biographical information and its expiration date 
  • Check for application fee made out to US Department of Homeland Security
  • 2 identical passport style color photos
You cannot submit your application for OPT any earlier than 90 days before the program end date and no later than 60 days after the program end date on your I-20.   The application must be received by the USCIS no later than 30 days after the DSO submits the OPT recommendation to SEVIS.  
If approved, you will receive an EAD within 90 days and you may begin employment on the date designated on your EAD Card.

Travel During OPT
Travel while applying for and during OPT carries some unpredictability.  
Travel Risk Involved with OPT explains several travel scenarios and the risks that are involved. 

Post Completion OPT Information

Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship
Under limited circumstances, an F-1 student may apply for off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship. Conditions creating this severe economic hardship include: 
  • loss of financial aid without the fault of the student,
  • unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support,
  • substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate,
  • inordinate increases in tuition and fees 
  • medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
The circumstances must be documented and to be eligible a student:
  • must be in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • be in good academic standing
  • be sure employment will not interfere with studies 
You will need to complete the application for EAD, form I-795.