Many Indians envisioned as a student to study in a western country especially in the US. A very expensive vision indeed and still many Indian students imagine it. As an international student studying in the US can be quite stressful with the education loan and the living expenses. Few students with good academic record are awarded grants and scholarships and most opt for student loans with high, low or no interests. Though student loans help out momentarily, managing expenses apart from your tuition fees can be hard and many international and regional students resort to working part time to manage at least the living expenses while studying. Don’t worry there are plenty on and off campus jobs exclusively for students and the pay is pretty decent starting from $40.00 - $120.00 an hour. Usually working hours are limited to 20 hours a week, yet it is a terrific experience to work in the US as a student. There is learning and unlearning in abundance for you on and off campus and it is healthy to exploit the opportunity to your advantage.
Now if you have decided to work, the first step to talk to your designated school official (DSO). Your DSO will designate you as per the requirement and vacancy.
Being an F-1 student, you instantly qualify to work on-campus. Nevertheless, there are things that you need to be cautious of. Even though you can start work immediately after you arrive, you should be in active status and your DSO should approve your request. You’ll receive a letter of approval following the DSO’s approval and along with a letter from your employer you will obtain a Social Security number.
When you are a sophomore or a senior, you will be qualified to work off-campus. To work off-campus you need to get an authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply for off-campus work authorization, you should receive a letter of recommendation from your DSO and file a Form I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization” with USCIS. USCIS on approval will send you a Form I-766 Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You will be restricted to work off-campus until you have received your EAD.
The F1 visa limits students allowing them to work a total of 20 hours a week on and off-campus, maintaining full-time status while attending school. If the DSO discovers that you are working without permission or working past 20 hours a week will lead to dire consequences. The DSO will report the grievance through The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and your record will be terminated which will lead to immediate deportation and the inability to return.
Curriculum Related Training
You can receive work authorization for training related to your course like the optional practical training (OPT) and curricular practical training (CPT). You should be enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school as an F-1 student for one whole academic year to qualify for either type of training.
OPT should be related to your major or your course and an EAD card is essential before you start working. You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each academic level. To get an EAD card you need to get a new Form I-20 from your DSO and a recommendation for employment. You must submit a Form I-765 to USCIS with the new Form I-20 and the DSO’s recommendation. OPT restricts students to a 20 hour work week while attending school.
CPT should be related to your major and the experience should be part of your curriculum. Unlike OPT, CPT can be full time and is not restricted to 20 hours a week. To qualify for CPT your DSO should provide you with a Form I-20 and a recommendation for employment.
17-Month STEM Extension
Students graduating with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degree are qualified to stay in the US for an additional 17 months upon completion of 12 months of OPT on an Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension.
You qualify for an OPT STEM Extension when:
- You have completed a course and the OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed in the STEM designated degree programs
- Your future employer uses the E-Verify Program
- You have not received an extension of OPT before
On approval your DSO will provide a new Form I-20 and you should electronically file a Form I-765 with USCIS and pay a filing fee for your EAD.
When the EAD for OPT expires, you can work up to 180 days while your 17-month extension is pending. You are eligible when:
- You are at present in a period of completing OPT
- You have filed your application for extension with USCIS on time
As soon as you start your higher education in the US you don’t have to run around and stress out to find work. Hope this article helped you understand where to reach out and who to contact for work in the US.
Also, have you picked the institution of your choice to study in the US? If not, try downloading the prospectuses of US institutions.
If you have selected the course of your choice, you can use our managed application service to apply to US institutions online!
All the Best.
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