international student life

international student

Work Restrictions for international students and How to Legally Overcome them.

On-Campus & off-campus Jobs, Maximum work hours, Summer Jobs, State ID & Social Security Number, Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), Severe Economic Hardship work permit and more.

When you come to the US as an international student, you will have to show that you have financial support to complete your studies. In the ideal situation, you actually have the money and don't need to work.

However, this is not the case for most international students. College and living expenses are high and you may need to work to sustain yourself, otherwise you will run out of money and end up dropping out of college..

Immigration rules require that an international student attend college full time otherwise they will be in violation and can get in trouble. One has to maintain at least 12 credit hours of classes during the Spring and Fall semesters. You don't have to attend school during summer. The government has an electronic monitoring system called SEVIS that monitor all international students to make sure they are actually attending college and have not dropped out.

Before you can work as an international student, you need to have a State Identity Card or Drivers license and also a Social Security Number (SSN). You will get an Identity card the first few weeks after you arrive and you should ask the international students office to help you get a Social security Number. If they ask why you need a Social Security Number, tell them you need to work on-campus.

As an international student, you are not allowed to work off campus. However you are allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours a week. There are several places you can find jobs on campus including restaurants, computer labs, labs, security, bookstores, library, student organizations, shuttle bus driver, maintenance, events coordinator, school gymnasium, tutor and many other places.

During the summer semester, you can work more than 20 hours a week because you are not required to attend classes. However, you still cannot work off-campus. In some cases, you may work off campus if the college branches affiliated to it out of campus. I remember I worked for two years as a research assistant at an institute that was affiliated to the college and that counted as on campus work. Just be inquisitive and try to get as much information as possible about places you are allowed to work.

If you find yourself in severe economic hardships and there is no on-campus jobs for you, you can ask your college's International Student adviser to help you apply for "Severe Economic Hardship work permit". This will allow you to work off-campus to pay your bills and college fees.

You can also work off-campus on a paid internship in your field of study using your "Curricular Practical Training" (CPT). You have to fill out forms at the international students office to enable you apply for CPT work authorization. You can work for only one year using CPT during your entire college time. However, it's worthy utilizing any opportunity you have to work legally to help you pay for your college.

After graduation, you can apply for "Optional Practical Training" (OPT) work permit that allows you to Legally work anywhere for one year after graduation. You have to fill out the forms at the international students office a few months before graduation and then you will get a work permit that expires in one year. You can use this to work anywhere in the country. However when it expires, you will be required to provide another work permit otherwise you will be removed from your job.

After graduation, if you like to remain in the US and work, you have to obtain a Green Card through several possible ways.


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