Employment & Internships
As an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, you may qualify for certain types of employment authorization to allow you to work on campus, as well as off campus in positions related to your major field. Many internships, rotations, or curricular placements require authorization. Work authorization may also be approved if you are facing severe economic difficulties beyond your control.
Students who have completed their program may be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
In certain cases, you are allowed to work off-campus if you meet certain conditions. You must get immigration authorization BEFORE you begin any off-campus paid employment.
Keep in mind that off-campus work permission for international students in the U.S. is quite limited, applications for certain employment authorizations can often take months to be approved, and that you must always have valid employment authorization to begin employment.
F and J students are generally permitted to work part-time on-campus as long as you are maintaining your immigration status. The majority of positions international students are eligible for can be found here. However, the Career Development Center's employment database may have additional‚ on-campus jobs. The Career Development Center is an excellent resource when looking for employment, writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, and more!
Note: F or J students who complete their program, withdraw from classes, or who have otherwise failed to maintain status, must discontinue on-campus employment immediately.
- You must have a valid Western New England University I-20 or DS-2019.
- Your job must be on-campus and you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week (unless it is a school break then you can work over 20 hours per week).
- You cannot work in a position that is funded by Federal Work Study.
- You will need a Social Security Number.
- You must complete I-9 paperwork with Human Resources.
- Students on the J Visa will need employment authorization from ISSS. Authorization is employer-specific; if there is a change in the employment (including position, hiring unit, or number of hours per week), a new authorization is required. Employment authorization is valid for a maximum of one year.
Social Security Number Process
I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification
All employees of Western New England University are required to complete their I-9 paperwork within 3 days of beginning their employment. Below is what most international students will need to complete their paperwork:
- Employment Verification Form (form begins on page 7)
- I-20 or DS-2019
- SSN Card OR SSA approval verification letter
A full list of acceptable documents for I-9 paperwork can be found here.
Western New England University Human Resources processes all I-9 paperwork.
Internships for F-1 Students
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students
F-1 students who have maintained their immigration status for one academic year (nine or more months) are eligible for CPT (unless your graduate program requires immediate participation). Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a paid off-campus internship/opportunity directly related to your field of study. The purpose of CPT is not to facilitate employment authorization but to allow you to participate in training related to your field of study. This is usually an internship for credit.
Graduate Students using CPT for thesis or dissertation research that cannot be completed on-campus must also submit the CPT Faculty Approval for Research Letter.
Internships for Exchange Students
Academic Training for J-1 Exchange Students
Academic Training is designed to provide J-1 Visa students with employment experience related to your program of study. Exchange students may only engage in Academic Training after your program ends and the end date of your internship must be prior to your start date at your home institution. Please note that Academic Training cannot be authorized for permanent employment.
The employment start date must begin with 30 days of completing the exchange program. Since a job offer is required, you should start your job search early. ISSS recommends you apply for Academic Training as soon as you have a job offer.
Eligibility for Academic Training
A J-l student is eligible for Academic Training if you:
- are in good academic standing or has successfully completed a program of study;
- are participating in Academic Training that is directly related to his or her major field of study;
- are authorized to engage in Academic Training through written approval of the Responsible Officer BEFORE beginning the academic training
If you plan to leave the U.S. after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave or risk having trouble reentering the U.S.
Application and Authorization Procedures
Academic Training is authorized by ISSS. To apply for Academic Training, you should submit the information needed below.
- Academic Training Request Form
- Employment Offer Letter
- Home Institution Confirmation Approval (if required)
- Proof of Insurance that meets Department of State guidelines to cover your internship period
Once your Academic Training application is approved, ISSS will issue you a new DS-2019.
If you have paid Academic Training, you will need to apply for a Social Security Number.
You will be notified by email when the new DS-2019 is ready for pick-up.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
All F-1 students in good standing are eligible for one year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of a degree program.* For more information on OPT and how to apply, please refer to the OPT Application Packet.
STEM students have the option of obtaining a 24-month extension for their OPT. For more information about the STEM extension and how to apply, please refer to the OPT STEM Extension Application Packet. For a partially prefilled and fillable I-983 form required for the STEM OPT application, please click here.
*A Pre-completion OPT option is available. Please contact ISSS for more information and eligibility requirements. Students must complete at least one academic year before applying for Pre-completion OPT.
The H-1B “cap-gap” occurs when an F-1 student’s status and OPT work authorization expires after April 1, and before the student can start approved H-1B employment during the next fiscal year that begins on October 1. For example, under the new rule, a student currently on OPT who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition that requests an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year will have his or her duration of status and OPT employment authorization extended to that date. This is what is called the “cap-gap.”
The cap-gap extension of work permission must be requested by ISSS; the employer should not need further documentation.
However, if the student needs an I-20 for any other reason to prove they are in cap-gap status, they should contact ISSS. They should send an e-mail to ISSS with the subject line “Cap-gap I-20 Request”, include WNE ID#, include end date on EAD card, current mailing address, current employer name and address including the start date of that employment, and employer name and address during Cap-gap dates if it’s different than the current employer. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recommends that a student not travel outside the United States during the cap gap extension, if possible, as USCIS will consider a change-of-status application to be abandoned if the applicant leaves the country while the application remains pending.
Severe Economic Hardship
Under rare circumstances, limited employment authorization may be given to F-1 and J-1 students who can demonstrate that they have been placed under severe financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control that arose after their arrival in the U.S. Please note that first year F-1 students are not eligible for economic hardship authorization.
Authorization for F-1 students is approved by USCIS and can take up to 3-4 months to process.