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Immigration regulations restrict employment for F-1 or J-1 students, as their primary purpose is to study. You should verify that you have the appropriate authorization before engaging in any form of employment. For immigration purposes, employment is defined as the exchange of services for any form of compensation, monetary or otherwise. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of your immigration status and may result in the termination of your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 record. There are several employment options for international students: 

On-campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus. However, on-campus employment must be performed on the school's premises, at commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school’s bookstore or cafeteria or at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with Webster University. Common places students find employment on campus are Academic Resource Center, Library, Office of Admission, Campus Activities, and Housing.

On-campus employment is only limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time when school is not in session or during the student’s annual vacation or official university breaks. However, F-1 or J-1 students from other institutions concurrently enrolled at Webster University are not permitted to work on campus at Webster University, unless they are authorized by their institutions to do practical training.  

The Student Employment Office monitors the number of hours each student worked per week and may freeze a student’s payroll account if it is determined that a student is working more than 20 hours per week. Failure to follow the rule may lead to termination of the student’s SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 record.

 Who is Eligible to Work on Campus?

The following students are eligible to work on-campus without special permission from International Recruitment & International Services or from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS):  

  • Any F-1 or J-1 student in valid status with Webster University I-20 or DS-2019.
  • An F-1 or J-1 student transfer student whose SEVIS record has been released to Webster University.
  • A current F-1 or J-1 student who is admitted to begin a new program of study.

 Who is not Eligible to Work on Campus?

  •  A student who is “out of status”. A student can resume employment if he/she has been reinstated to student status.
  • An F-1 or J-1 student who has already graduated and is now in his/her 60/30-day grace period, except those who obtained optional practical training (OPT) or academic training.
  • A dependent of an F-1 student who is in F-2 status. 

Off-Campus Employment

Students in F-1 or J-1 status must request work authorization from International Recruitment and International Services or from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before engaging in any off-campus employment.

F-1 or J-1 student students are eligible to work off-campus in certain situations on a part-time basis after having been in valid F-1 status for one full academic year. The type of employment authorization a student may receive will depend on the nature of the employment, the student’s immigration status, and the relationship of the employment to the student’s academic program. 

Severe Economic Hardship Employment 

Economic hardship employment is off-campus employment authorization that is for economic need, and is not required to be related to the student’s academic program of study. While F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to enter the United States for the purpose of studies, off-campus employment may be authorized only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student’s enrollment in an academic program. Off-campus employment due to economic hardship is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship.

 Eligibility for F-1 and J-1 Students

 The student must meet these eligibility criteria:

  1. The student has been in F-1 status for at least one academic year (or 9 months).
  2. The student is in good academic standing, enrolled full-time and maintaining status.
  3. Can demonstrate that no on-campus employment is available or otherwise it is insufficient to meet his/her need.
  4. Can demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with his or her being full-time student.
  5. Provide evidence of economic hardship caused by unexpected circumstances to justify  that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. These hardships may include:
  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment - not due to student’s fault
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • Excessive increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student’s financial sponsor(s)
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Other substantial, unexpected expenses

How to apply for Severe Economic Hardship?

You must file a Form I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization with a new I-20 and pay an application fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  You must also submit documents that show you are doing through economic hardship.

Before you can submit your application to the United States Citizenship and  Immigration Services (USCIS), please complete the Severe Economic Hardship Form and submit relevant documents to International Recruitment and International Services for review. 

If the application is approved by USCIS, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (also known as Form I-766); and can then begin working off-campus. Employment authorization is granted in increment of one year at a time. 

Internship with an International Organization 

F-1 students are eligible to do an internship with international organization (8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C). Examples of recognized international organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization etc. Student must consult International Recruitment and International Services to determine if the organization they intent to work at meets U.S. definition of International Organization. A student is eligible as soon as he or she is in F-1 status; there is no waiting period. Employment does not have to be related to the student’s field of study, but most international organizations usually hire students for positions in their field of study anyway.

An F-1 student who has been offered employment by a recognized international organization must apply for employment authorization to United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS. Employment can be full-time or part-time. However, the student must still be a full-time student and maintain F-1 student status. If approved, USCIS will send Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before a student begins employment. Please download the Internship with an International Organization Form from the form section to this website to find more about the application procedure. You can also find out a list of current international organizations from here.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for employment authorization with an international organization, you must:
Be currently maintaining valid F-1 status;
Have a written offer of employment from a qualifying international organization

Application Process and Requirements

Submit the documents specified in the checklist below to International Recruitment and International Services for review and to request an I-20 recommending employment with an international organization.

  • Completed Internship with an International Organization Form
  • Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization in blue pen (Enter the code (c)(3)(ii) in item #16). Download Form I-765 from the USCIS web-site.
  • Completed Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Download Form G-1145 from the USCIS web-site
  • Photocopies all previously issued Form I-20s, including I-20s from other schools
  • Photocopies of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (front and back)
  • A photocopy of Form I-94 card (both sides) or print out of the electronic I-94 from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval.
  • Photocopy of a new I-20 to be issued by the International Services Office
  • Photocopies of the following Passport pages: (1) Name, picture and validity/expiration pages (2) Most recent visa page
  • A $380 check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”)
  • Two identical passport-style photos taken within 30 days (Using a pencil or a pen lightly print your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo). 
  • A written offer of employment from the qualifying international organization on the organization's letterhead 

 Practical Training (OPT, CPT & AT)

Practical training is a form employment (for the purpose of training) that is directly related to an F-1 or J-1 student’s major area of studies. To be eligible, an F-1 student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year. This includes F-1 students who were enrolled in a study abroad program, after being enrolled full-time for at least one full academic term in the United States prior to studying abroad. For J-1 students it is recommended that they request practical training after completing at least one semester.

Students on F-1 visa are eligible for 12 months of practical training for each educational level. However, students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. There are two types of practical training available to F-1 students: 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

"Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." (8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(I)).

Student must submit request for authorization for curricular practical training to International Recruitment and International Services. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving the new Form I-20 with the international student advisor endorsement. Please refer to CPT Form for more details about the procedure.

Complete the CPT Request Form and follow instructions on how to submit the application. 

The following are different ways international students on F-1 visas can qualify for Curricular Practical Training at Webster University:

  1. Through student’s academic program – This is internship that is either a required part of the student’s degree program, a requirement for a specific course (e.g. elective) or a part of the research for a graduate student’s thesis or dissertation. In all these cases the students must enroll in and receive academic credits. 


  • An F-1 student must have been enrolled full-time (12 credits per semester for undergraduates, 6 credits per 9-week term for graduates) for at least one full academic year or 9 months.
  • For the academic program requirement a student must register for one (1) or three (3) credit hours of internship/practicum course work as determined by his or her internship coordinator or academic advisor.
  • The student must be maintaining legal F-1 immigration status.
  • Students must have been formally offered an internship employment.


It can range from one semester up to 12 months.The training can be full-time or part time. If it is full-time (more than 20 hours a week) for 12 months or more the student will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT will only be granted one term or semester at a time. Full-time/part-time status of CPT will be determined by the academic requirements, the employer and the Designated School Official (DSO) at International Recruitment and International Services.


1. Internship through Academic Program

This requires faculty advisor or internship coordinator recommendation. It should describe:

  • The specific internship opportunity
  • The specific degree requirement or elective course that the student has enrolled in
  • The minimum requirements to complete the internship
  • A reasonable period of time needed to complete the internship (e.g., satisfying the requirements of one semester, 3 credit hours course - normally done in one semester)  

2. Letter from the Employer

 It should describe:

  • The beginning and ending dates of employment
  • The number of hours the student will work weekly
  • A description of job duties
  • The name and contact of the supervisor
  • The name and address of the employer


Application for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is completed through International Recruitment and International Services in the Office of Admissions in St. Louis, Missouri. You need authorization for CPT for any internship, practical, or other work-related experience. It does not matter if the experience is paid or not. Please plan ahead 3 months in advance if you intend to do a CPT. You must have authorization in the form of a new I-20 BEFORE you start your internship. To obtain CPT, take the following steps:

Step I

  1. Contact International Recruitment and International Services to discuss your eligibility for CPT.
  2. Meet with your internship coordinator or academic advisor to ensure the experience is required or will be taken for credit.
  3. Contact the Career Planning and Development Center for assistance with finding an internship or starting your job search. 

 Step II

  1. Have your faculty advisor or internship coordinator complete the CPT form and submit any other form from the department
  2. Obtain a letter from your employer stating job title and duties, beginning and ending dates of your employment, and supervisor's name, title, address and phone number on the company’s letterhead.
  3. Register for internship credit(s) if you are doing internship through your academic program. Please note, you must be registered for CPT credits in the same semester during which the work will be done unless specified otherwise by your faculty advisor or internship coordinator.

 Step III

  1. Submit all of the documents listed in STEPS I & II along with copies of your Form I-20, I-94 and valid passport to International Recruitment and International Services .
  2. Obtain a new CPT I-20 - An international student advisor from International Recruitment and International Services will review and authorize a CPT for you by issuing you a new Form I-20.
  3. Submit your new CPT I-20, passport, I-94 card or the electronic copy of the I-94 Admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval and any relevant document requested by your employer. You can thereafter start your internship. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization for training purposes directly related to the student's major field of study. Approval for this type of practical training employment comes from the USCIS. A student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her Employment Authorization Document. There are three kinds of OPT:

  • Standard Post-completion OPT
  • 24 Month Extension of Post-Completion OPT

Post-completion OPT

Students may engage in OPT after completion of their course of study.

Post-completion OPT Application Procedures

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for OPT as soon as possible. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. It may take up to three months for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your application.

An F-1 student may submit an application for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the student’s program completion date and up to 60 days after his or her program end date. If applying after program completion date, please make sure that your application is received by USCIS by the 60th day of the program completion date; otherwise your application will be rejected. In addition, the application must be submitted within 30 days of the date the OPT I-20 was issued.

If possible we encourage you to apply for OPT three months before your program completion date. You cannot begin work until the application is approved. If you apply 60 days after your program completion date this may result in a delayed work authorization and sometimes a loss in your 12 months of OPT eligibility because it takes USCIS about three months to process your application.

How to Apply

To apply for OPT you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Submit OPT Request Form to intlservices@webster.edu 

Step 2: After you will receive the new OPT I-20 and OPT Reporting Requirement Document you must do the following immediately after receiving this package:

  • Sign and date the I-20 immediately and make copy of page 1 and 2. Keep original for yourself. This is your new I-20 from now on. We will keep the copy for our record.  Submit the copy with your OPT application.
  • Do not staple documents; use paper clips to keep documents together
  • Use a BLUE pen to sign I-20 and I-765.  

It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued.  

You must mail your completed application packet with tracking to USCIS within 15 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued.  This is critical as the dates on the I-765, check, photos, and I-20 must be less than 30 days old. 


Step 3: Include the following information, in this order, in your final application pack to USCIS: 

  1. Check or Money order of $380.00 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." This must be the first item in your application packet.  
  2. Completed Form G-1145
  3. Completed and original, signed Form I-765
  4. Copy of new signed OPT I-20 (with OPT Request on Page 2)
  5. Copies of all previously issued I-20s
  6. Copy of the most current I-94 card (front and back) OR the electronic print-out from this website
  7. Copy of valid passport page with photo and expiration date
  8. Two (2) recent U.S. Style Passport Photo (taken within 30 days).  Write your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo. 
  9. Copy of the most recent F-1 student visa page
  10. Copy of previous Employment Authorization Card (if any)

Collect all documents and put them in the proper order.  It is a best practice to make a copy of all the above documents and keep them for your records. 

Step 4: Mail your OPT Application 

If you live in:
Mail your application to:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota,
Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:                                      USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:                                        USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,
Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:                              USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:                                    USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067


E-Notification: If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Types of Employment Allowed for Post-completion OPT

Students may accept employment that is directly related to their fields of study and should work full-time during post-completion OPT. The following options count as employment as long as they are related to the student’s field of study:

  • Multiple Employers: Students may work for more than one employer,but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.Students doing pre-completion OPT may work for more than one employer but, cannot exceed the 20 hours allowed per week when school is in session.
  • Short-Term Multiple Employers (performing artists): Students such as musicians and other type of performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). Students are asked to keep a list of all gigs, dates of employment, and the duration.
  • Self-employed Business Owners: Students can start their own businesses and be self-employed. They must be able to prove that they have the proper business licenses and that they are actively engaged in a business related to their degree programs.
  • Contract Employment (Work for hire): Students can work as independent contractors. Students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company if requested by DHS.
  • Employment through Agencies or Consulting firms: Students can be employed through employment agencies or consulting firms, but must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agencies or the firms.
  • Paid Employment: Students may work part time (at most 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.
  • Unpaid Employment/ Volunteer Work: Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns in their fields of study, so long as it the practice does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for a student on post-completion OPT. They must be prepared to provide evidence from the employer to verify that they worked at least hours per week during the period of employment. 

OPT STEM Extensions

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a new STEM Final Rule, with effective date May 10, 2016. NAFSA: Association of International Educators provides a summary of the rule and current updates and background. Detailed information for students and employers can also be found on the DHS Study in the States OPT STEM Hub . See below for a summary of changes in the new STEM rule.

The 2016 STEM Extension rule institutes significant changes for the F-1 OPT STEM Extension, including:


Effective May 10, 2016 the STEM Extension will be for 24 months.

STEM Application Period

STEM applications may only be submitted up to 90 days prior to the initial 12-Month OPT EAD expiration.

Eligibility for 2nd STEM Extension

The new rule allows a total of 2 lifetime STEM Extensions, the 2nd after earning a new STEM-eligible degree at a higher level and obtaining a new, higher level of 12-Month OPT

Eligible Based on Previously Earned Degree

May be based on a previously earned STEM Degree

Updated STEM Definition and CIP Categories

STEM Definition and CIP Categories

Required Training Plan and Form I-983

Requires significant responsibility of the employer to provide a training plan related to the field of study, and attestations to wages and compensation being commensurate with "similarly situated U.S. workers"

New Obligations for Students, Schools, and Employers

6 Month validation reports, annual evaluations, and submission of a new I-983 in case of material changes to the original I-983 are now required. Employers must agree to Department of Homeland Security site visits, as well as provide attestations to wages and working conditions

Types of Employment Allowed

Volunteer/unpaid, employment through employment agencies and self- employment are NOT allowed. STEM-eligible employers must have e-Verify & EIN numbers and the student must have a "bona fide employer-employee relationship".Other types of employment are also problematic- including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through ‘‘temp'' agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. DHS confirms that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

Increased Unemployment

Students with 24-Month STEM Extensions may have up to 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period including initial 12-Month and 24-Month STEM OPT period


Cap-gap Extension 

F-1 students, who are the beneficiaries of an H-¬1B petition subject to the cap (quota) on the number of H-1B petitions accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a given year (65,000), cannot begin employment until the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 1st). The cap-gap extension automatically extends the duration of your F-1 status and sometimes your OPT employment authorization to September 30. Therefore, the cap-gap extension is only available to an F-1 student who is currently on OPT and who has an approved or pending H-1B petition. If the student’s post-completion OPT has not yet expired, it will also be automatically extended.


Academic Training (for J-1 Students)


Academic training (AT) is a type of study-related employment for J-1 exchange students who want to participate in temporary employment related to their field of studies. The employment can be done while the student is pursuing studies or within 30 days following completion of studies. It allows a J-1 student to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods and full-time after completion of studies.

Academic training may be: (1) Paid or unpaid (2) Full-time or part-time (3) Done during your studies or; after the completion of studies (beginning no later than 30 days after the completion of studies).


  1. You are primarily in the United States to study rather than to engage in academic training.
  2. You are in good academic standing at the time of participation.
  3. You are participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study listed on your Form DS-2019.
  4. You have received a written approval in advance from both your academic advisor and the responsible officer in the International Recruitment and International Services office.

 Time Limitations  

  • Undergraduate and graduate students can do academic training for a maximum of 18 months.
  • Doctoral students can do academic training initially for 18 months and may be granted an extension of additional 18 months to a maximum of 36 months.
  • Non-degree students can do it for a maximum of 12 months.

Application Procedure

STEP 1: Obtain a job offer letter from your employer on the company’s letterhead that includes the following information: (1) Name of company (2) Location of academic training (3) Number of work hours per week (4) Beginning and ending dates of the training

STEP 2: Complete Part I of the Academic Training Recommendation Form and request your faculty advisor or internship coordinator complete Part II of the form.

STEP 3: Submit all of the above documents for approval to the International Recruitment and International Services office.

STEP 4: If the academic training is approved, the international student advisor will provide you with a new DS-2019 containing your academic training authorization and approval letter. Your employer will need these documents. 

Social Security Number

Social Security Number (SSN) is used to report your wages to the government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. Therefore, only F-1 and J-1 students who have been offered on-campus employment or off-campus employment in the U.S. are eligible to apply for Social Security Numbers.

Please wait at least 10 days from your date of entry into the United States to apply for an SSN. It takes this amount of time for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to transmit your arrival information and immigration status to the Social Security Administration.

Dependents in F-2 status are not eligible for a Social Security Number.

Application Procedure for a Social Security Number

Students offered employment on campus need to submit copy of completed Student Employment Authorization Form from the Career Planning and Development Center to the International Recruitment and International Services (IRIS) to get a letter for the Social Security Number. Students can request the Social Security letter and upload copy of the Student Employment Authorization Form online here. You will then submit the following documents to the Social Security Administration Office:

F-1 or J-1 students Employed On-campus:

  • Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Letter from International Recruitment and International Services
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval
  • Passport

F-1 Students Authorized Curriculum Practical Training (CPT):

  • Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Form I-20 endorsed for CPT on page 3
  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval
  • Passport

 A Social Security letter from Webster University is not required for students on OPT. 

F-1 Students Authorized OPT or F-1/J-1 Students Authorized Severe Economic Hardship Employment:

A student must wait until the start date of his or her Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to apply for a Social Security Number. A Social Security letter from Webster University is not required for students on OPT.

  • Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • Form I-20 endorsed for OPT on page 3 or DS-2019, endorsed for Severe Economic Hardship Employment
  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval
  • Passport
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

 J-1 Students Authorized Academic Training (AT):

  • Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card
  • International Recruitment and International Services Academic Training Authorization Letter
  • DS-2019, endorsed for Academic Training
  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval
  • Passport

Please Note: If your on-campus or CPT work begins more than 30 days from your application date; or the employment start date on your Employment Authorization Document is in the future, the Social Security Administration cannot process your application.