Employment Regulations

F-1 Student On-Campus Employment

Non-immigrant students are admitted into the United States to study. For these students to work in the United States, specific authorization must be obtained.
F-1 students are generally permitted to work part-time on the premises of Holy Family University because the University issued the current valid I-20, the students are attending the University as full time students, and the students are maintaining their F-1 status. F-1 students are not eligible for a work study position and should not apply.

On-campus work may generally be divided into three types:

  • Work on the university's premises
  • Work on the university's premises but employed by an on-campus commercial firm, such as the bookstore or dining services
  • Work done at off-campus locations, but treated as on-campus.

Time Limits

You are allowed to work:

  • Part-time (20 hours per week or less) during the Fall and Spring semesters
  • Full time (more than 20 hours per week) between semesters
  • Full time (more than 20 hours per week) during the annual vacation break.

On-Campus employment eligibility ends:

  • When you graduate. It expires on the last day of your final semester
  • If you transfer to another university, your work authorization expires on the day of your SEVIS record release day
  • If you violate your F-1 Status

Not following guidelines for employment authorization is a violation of status and could jeopardize a student's ability to remain in the United States or return for future visits.

F-1 Student: Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus employment is allowed only in cases of severe economic hardship or in emergent circumstances as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. Off-campus employment is granted, on a case-by-case basis, only to an F-1 student who can prove that new, unexpected circumstances have created severe economic hardship. These circumstances may include the following:

  • Loss of financial aid due to no fault of the student
  • Loss of on-campus employment if it is not the student's fault and no other on-campus job is available
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial decreases in the relative value of the currency that the student depends upon to pay expenses
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's sources of financial support
  • Unexpected large medical bills
  • Other substantial unexpected expenses

In addition to economic hardship, the following rules apply to off-campus employment:

  • An F-1 student must be enrolled for at least one academic year before he/she is eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization.
  • The student must be unable to obtain on-campus employment or pay available from on-campus employment is insufficient to meet the student's financial needs.
  • The DSO must recommend approval of the request and provide the F-1 student with a signed Form I-20.
  • Any F-1 student may not begin working without an Employment Authorization Department (EAD). The application process for the EAD varies between two to five months

EAD Application Procedures

USCIS requires the following documentation when applying for the Employment Authorization Document of Homeland Security.

  • www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • Form I-765 (c)(3)(B) in item 27
  • $410 fee (check or money order payable to US Department of Homeland Security)
  • Copy of Form I-20 with the IAO Designated School Office's recommendation for economic hardship employment or Optional Practical Training
  • Photocopy of the passport identification page
  • Photocopy of visa page
  • Photocopies of any previously issues EAD card send all documentation to:
    USCIS
    P.O. Box 805373
    Chicago, IL 60680

F-1 Dependents: F-2 Status

A dependent of an F-1 visa holder is not permitted to work in the United States under any circumstances.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students

CPT is defined as alternative work/study, internship, experiential learning, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the university.

CPT is only available to F-1 students when it is an integral part of an established curriculum, which means that an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive academic credit for the training.

F-1 students must be enrolled for one full academic year to be eligible for CPT.

A student must maintain full-time status while completing CPT. Part-time CPT is limited to the maximum of 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters.

How to Apply for CPT

  1. Visit the International Affairs Office and request the following forms:
    • CPT Application Form (IAO Forms)
    • Departmental Recommendation for CPT
  2. Complete the forms and return them to the DSO in the IAO on the first day of the semester in which you are registered for the internship, clerkship, or practicum.
  3. Bring an offer letter from the prospective employer on the employer's letterhead. The offer letter should state the location of the CPT, the length of time of CPT which includes the start date and a description of duties.
  4. Bring a current I-20 (Not a copy)

    For Express Mail and courier deliveries:
    USCIS
    Attn: I-765-CO3
    131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603-5517
    STEM OPT Extension for 24 Month

Eligibility Requirements for CPT

  1. You must have been enrolled in classes for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters).
  2. CPT employment must be an integral part of an established curriculum.
  3. Training is required of all students or optional for your degree.
  4. Register for the appropriate course before applying for CPT: If you cannot receive college credit for the work experience, you cannot be authorized for CPT.
  5. An F-1 student will be authorized by the IAO for CPT. Your IAO DSO will process your application for CPT. With SEVIS approval, you will be issued a new I-20 that shows the CPT employment authorization on the second page for the specific employer, location, and length of time.
  6. Students who use 12 months or more of full time CPT become ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This 12 month limit will include any full time CPT that is required by your program. Check all program requirements carefully.

Optional Practical Traning for F-1 Students

Optional practical training (OPT) is another type of practical training available to non-immigrant students. OPT is not an integral part of a student's academic program and requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudication.
F-1 students can participate in OPT that is directly related to their major area of study while they are enrolled in school (pre-completion) and upon completion of their program of study (post completion). Certain students (STEM) are eligible for a 24 month extension of post-completion OPT.
Students must be enrolled full time for a full academic year before being eligible for OPT, and there is no exception to this requirement. However, F-1 students can apply for pre-completion OPT as early as 90 days prior to completion of a full academic year.

Guidelines for OPT

  • F-1 students can participate in a total of 12 months of OPT at each educational level.
  • Part time work counts toward the maximum 12 months at one-half the rate of full-time employment.
  • OPT does not count as part of the student's full-time course load.
  • A student may work up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session.
  • A student may work more than 20 hours a week when classes are not in session.
  • A student does not need a job offer to be authorized for OPT.
  • A student is limited to an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment during post-completion OPT and 150 days of unemployment if granted the 24–month extension.

How to Apply for OPT

  1. Request an OPT Recommendation Form from the IAO and complete both Parts A and B (IAO Forms).
  2. Submit the completed OPT Recommendation Form to the DSO in the International Affairs Office.
  3. Submit the Form I-20 with OPT endorsement, signed by the DSO and student on page 1 and signed and dated by the DSO on page 2. Filing of an OPT application (I-765, signed I-20, and fee) must occur within 30 days of the DSO's recommendation in SEVIS, and within other OPT filing deadlines (No sooner than 90 days before program end date, and no later than 60 days after the program end date).
  4. Make photo copies of all I-20 forms.
  5. Photo copy any previous employment authorization documents (EAD)
  6. Complete the current Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization www.uscis.gov/i-765. At item 27, enter the appropriate code
    Pre-completion OPT – (c) (3) (A)
    Post-completion OPT – (c) (3) (B)
  7. Write a check or obtain a money order for the Form I-765 filing fee, made payable to "US Department of Homeland Security"($410.00)
  8. Submit two identical immigration style photos with the I-765 that were taken within the last 30 days before filing the Form I-765.
  9. Submit an electronic Form I-94 printout or photo copy both sides of a cardstock I-94.
  10. Photo copy the passport ID pages: photo page, page with passport validity dates, including renewal page if the original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc.
  11. Photo copy of the F-1 visa page (if any)
  12. Mail all of the above to the USCIS Lockbox Facility.

For US Postal Service Deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

For Express Mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-765-CO3
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
STEM OPT Extension for 24 Month

J-1 Exchange Student

A student exchange visitor may be employed on the campus of the school in which they are enrolled to a maximum of 20 hours per week with prior written authorization from the Responsible Officer (RO) of their designated program (and full time during official school breaks). The student may work off campus under limited circumstances provided he/she has obtained prior written authorization from the RO. Employment does not require additional permission from USCIS or an EAD. The student is also eligible for up to 18 months of Academic Training with written approval from the RO. An exchange visitor who engages in unauthorized employment shall be deemed in violation of his/her program status and is subject to termination as a participant in an exchange visitor program.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Short-term Scholar, Professor, Researcher, or Specialist

This group of J-1 Exchange Visitors may be employed only by the designated program sponsor or appropriate designee as stated on Form DS-2019, and within the period of validity stated on the Form DS-2019. Under limited circumstances, individuals in this group may receive compensation from other institutions with prior written authorization from the Responsible Officer of their designated program. An EAD is not required. An exchange visitor who engages in unauthorized employment shall be deemed in violation of his/her program status and is subject to termination as a participant in an exchange visitor program.

J-1 Dependents: J-2 Status

A dependent of a J-1 visa holder is eligible to apply to USCIS for work authorization. Once he/she has been issued an EAD by USCIS the individual may work for any employer. The employer must verify the dependent's employment authorization by the expiration date on the EAD. Work permission is typically granted for a period of one year or to the end of the J-1's program.

STEM OPT 24 Month Extension

Eligibility for STEM OPT Extension

  • Applicant must be an F-1 student who is currently engaged in post completion OPT with a job or job offer from a participating E-Verify employer in a position directly related to the major field of study.
  • Applicant must have completed a degree in a designated STEM field from a U.S. accredited institution with SEVP certification within the last 10 years and may not have already utilized this degree to apply for a STEM OPT extension.
  • Applicant must be in an active period of post-completion OPT at the time of requesting the STEM OPT extension.
  • Applicant must submit a completed I-983 with all attestations and supporting documentation to HFU International Affairs Office to request the 24-month STEM extension.
  • Applicant files the I-765 with all required documentation and filing fee ($410), to USCIS to request the STEM OPT extension within the required filing timeline.
  • Applicant must be working in a full-time (20+ hours per week) paid position for a participating E-Verified employer. The applicant cannot be self-employed.
  • Applicant must have his/her application received by USCIS within 60 days of the HFU DSO’s STEM OPT Recommendation in SEVIS, or the application will be denied.

Important Conditions and Limitations to Remember

  • The STEM OPT start date will begin the day after the post-completion OPT ends. You do not choose the dates.
  • Only Two STEM OPT Extensions are allowed per lifetime, the second must be after the completion of a higher educational level.
  • A STEM OPT Extension can only be applied for while the applicant is in a valid period of post-completion OPT.
  • If the application has been filed within the designated timeline, the applicant can continue to work while the application is being processed by USCIS for 180 days, even if the applicant does not receive the new EAD before the end of the 12 month period on post-completion OPT.
  • The applicant is responsible for paying attention to and complying with all reporting requirements and deadlines. Failure to comply with reporting requirements will result in the loss of immigration status and employment authorization.
  • Individuals engaged in a period of 24-month STEM OPT cannot be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 150 days.

Application Process

Step 1: Obtain the IAO STEM authorization and a new I-20 no earlier than 90 days prior to end of OPT

  • Complete and submit to IAO the STEM OPT Extension Request Form
  • Complete with your employer and submit to IAO Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan (https://www.ice.gov/document/sevp-form-i-983-training-plan-stem-opt-students
  • Complete and submit to IAO Form I-765 (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-765.pdf )
  • Complete and submit a signed STEM OPT Attestation form to IAO
  • Submit a copy of your current EAD card front and back.
  • Obtain an official transcript as proof of your STEM degree
  • If you file your Stem OPT extension application and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-days extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.

Step 2: Gather and send all necessary application materials required by USCIS for STEM OPT.

  • Fee of $410. Check or money order payable to “US Department of Homeland Security.”
  • Form G-1145. Use this form if you wish to receive email or text confirmation of your receipt number from the Lockbox facility. Clip the form to the front of your application.
  • Original I-765 form completed with your original signature (BLUE INK). Use the most current edition available (Bottom of pg. 2, 08/25/20). The address you use must be valid for at least 3 months from the time you send the application because the US Postal Service does not forward EAD cards. Enter the following information on the I-765
  • Check third box: “I am applying for Renewal of my permission to accept employment.” Attach your previous employment authorization document.
  • Enter the correct code on # 27 of the I-765: STEM OPT extension (c) (3) (C)
  • Provide a cover letter indicating in order all the contents of your application package and that you are applying for STEM OPT extension.
  • Provide a photocopy of your signed new STEM OPT authorized I-20.
  • Provide photocopies of all previously issued and signed I-20 documents dating back to beginning of F-1 status.
  • Provide proof of degree: official transcript of STEM degree.
  • I-94 record (Download from cbp.gov/i94 )
  • Photocopy of your most recent ID page(s) of your passport (picture, number, expiration date)
  • Photo copy of F-1 Visa ID page and most recent F-1 visa stamp.
  • Two PASSPORT photos. In pencil, print your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo. NO GLASSES can be worn in the passport photos.
  • Copy of any previously issued EAD card(s).

Step 3: Mail the Application Materials to USCIS

  • Make a complete set pf photocopies for your files before sending the entire application. You must mail the application to the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the address you have used on the I-765. Send the application via priority or express mail carrier to obtain a tracking number and signature proof of delivery.
  • Mail the application within several days of receiving your STEM authorized I-20, since it must be received by USCIS within 60 days after it has been authorized by your IAO DSO and before the end of your current OPT period. Use the following USCIS lockbox address.

USPS

USCIS, PO Box 805373, Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, DHL deliveries

USCIS, Attn: I-765 CO3, 131 South Dearborn 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Step 4: Wait for the EAD

  • Within one month of sending the application to USCIS, you should get a standard receipt notice. The “Receipt Number” in the top left corner of your receipt notice can be used to track the status of your case on the USCIS website at uscis.gov or by calling the phone number indicated on the receipt. Keep in mind that this information is updated infrequently.

Other Important Information About STEM OPT Extension

Reporting Requirements and Limitations on Unemployment

  • F-1 regulations REQUIRE you to report any change of your name, your address, your phone number, email address, your employer’s name or address, as well as any interruptions or loss of employment within 10 days to HFU International Affairs Office. This reporting may be done via email to iao@holyfamily.edu . The information will be reported to Homeland Security and updated on your SEVIS record.
  • While on STEM OPT, you must report to the International Affairs Office every six months, within 10 business days to confirm that the employer information you submitted with your application is correct. After that, your report is due every six months until your STEM OPR ends, you change status, or leave the United States. All STEM reports and evaluations can be sent PDF to iao@holyfamily.edu.
  • In case of any immigration regulations changes, the International Affairs Office must always have a current accurate email address in order to contact you quickly.
  • Periods of unemployment are limited to 150 days while on STEM OPT. This dates back to the start of your initial 12-month OPT.
  • Any change in status must be reported to the International Affairs Office while you are on OPT.

For example notify the office if

  • If you apply for or are granted a change of a different immigration status
  • If you left the U.S. and made a new entry in another status
  • If you leave the U.S. permanently before the end date of your EAD card
  • If you plan to return to HFU as a student or continue studies elsewhere after OPT

Authorization May Not be Rescinded

Once authorization to engage in OPT is granted, it may not be rescinded or canceled. This means that after OPT is authorized by USCIs, it is impossible to have it cancelled and restored at a later date. If you do not use the work authorization it will be forfeited.

Change of employer After OPT has been Authorized

You must report any change of employer or employer address within 10 days. Address changes can be reported to the International Affairs Office by emailing iao@holyfamily.edu . If you change your employer, you must request, complete, and submit to IAO a new STEM OPT Extension Form as well as a new I-983 Training Plan and the final evaluation report from your old I-983. SEVIS will be updated and you will receive a new I-20 from the International Affairs Office. Directives regarding pick-up of the new I-20 will be provided by the International Affairs Office.

Social Security and Other Taxes

In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. fewer than five tax years are “nonresidents for tax purposes” and are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. However, your earnings are subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes. Beginning in the sixth year, most students become “residents for tax purposes” and employers should withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes. Tax returns must be filed on or before April 15 each year for the previous calendar year, for both “nonresidents” and “residents.”

Traveling Outside of the U.S. While on OPT

Reentry provisions of the regulations require students who have graduated and are on authorized OPT to present the following documents to reenter the U.S.:

  • STEM OPT I-20 signed on page 2 by the IAO DSO, within the last twelve months. Should you require an updated travel signature and are no longer in Philadelphia, email or phone the International Affairs Office for directives.
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • A valid passport
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp
  • A job offer letter or proof of employment. F-1 regulations allow for travel and reentry in order to “resume employment.”
  • Dependent Travel: Dependents do not receive an EAD. An F-2 dependent must carry copies of the F-1 student’s I-20 with OPT recommendation, EAD card and job offer letter, in addition to the F-1 I-20 when traveling.
  • Travel during the “cap gap” period may not be possible if the EAD has expired.
  • Travel while on OPT carries some risk. This risk increases for individuals on OPT if the F-1 visa has expired and a new one is required to reenter the U.S. or if the F-1 student has been unemployed for more than 150 days. Be sure to contact the IAO when considering travel outside the U.S. and reentry to continue OPT.

Employment Authorization with a Pending H-1B petition (“Cap Gap” employment authorization)

  • All students on OPT who have a pending or approved H-1B petition with a request for change of status will have their F-1 status and OPT authorization automatically extended if the employer has filed a timely H-1B petition with a change of status request with a requested October 1 start date.
  • If your employer requires a new Cap-Gap I-20, contact the International Affairs Office.
  • The OPT employment authorization automatically ends if the H-1B petition is denied, rejected, or withdrawn (a student may continue working until the end date indicated on the OPT EAD. The F-1 has a 60 day grace period with no work authorization after the end of OPT.

Important Facts to Remember about STEM OPT Extension

  • Students granted a 24-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment dating back to the start of the initial post-completion OPT 12-month period.
  • A student meeting the eligibility requirements for a 24-month extension may request an extension of employment by filing Form I-765 90 days prior to the expiration date of the student’s current OPT employment authorization.
  • The student seeking the 24-month extension must properly file the I-765 with USCIS within 60 days of the date the DSO recommends OPT in the SEVIS system.
  • Students may not be their own (sole) employer or provide employer attestations on their own behalf. Additionally, there must be an employer-employee relationship with the employer providing training on site, which means that the student is employed directly by the company, not employed by a third party or temporary employment agency. The government regulation states that “the employer that signs the I-983 Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.”

To qualify for STEM OPT Extension, the position must be full time (20+ hours per week). Employment with multiple employers is only possible if both positions will be more than 20 hours per week and if both employers comply with all of the STEM OPT regulations, including completing and signing the I-983 Training Plan.