Employment (for immigration purposes) is receiving compensation of any form (including course credit) in exchange for performing a task or providing a service.
Employment eligibility for F-1 and J-1 status students includes on campus employment and off-campus employment. M-1 status students are not allowed to work during their studies.
It is the responsibility of F & J students to know and understand the regulations surrounding employment. Students can find more information about employment on page 3 of the Form I-20/page 2 of the DS-2019. For the most current and detailed information, F-1 students should refer to the Working in the United States page; J-1 exchange visitors should refer to the Department of State Rules and Infractions page and also the specific regulations regarding their category.
You must have authorization for any off-campus training opportunity that is not a true volunteering position as defined by the DoL's Rules for Volunteering.
Please allow 2-5 business days for the International Center to process any employment authorization requests.
The U.S. Department of Labor is concerned both with the protection of jobs for United States citizens, and with the prevention of exploitation of workers. They have created laws to ensure that employment that should be paid is not done for free. While both you and the employer may be happy with an unpaid arrangement (for example, you may be eager to work even on an unpaid basis in a company in order to gain job experience), this may be considered an unfair arrangement in cases where the work is normally performed by a paid person and both the company and the employee benefit from the employment.
To determine whether an individual is a true volunteer engaged in “ordinary volunteerism,” the Department of Labor considers a number of factors. No single factor is determinative. The factors include:
- Is the entity that will benefit/receive services from the volunteer a nonprofit organization?
- Is the activity less than a full-time occupation?
- Are the services offered freely and without pressure or coercion?
- Are the services of the kind typically associated with volunteer work?
- Have regular employees been displaced to accommodate the volunteer?
- Does the worker receive (or expect) any benefit from the entity to which it is providing services?
In general, on-campus employment is work that you have been hired for by the University of North Dakota. Usually, this is located physically on campus as well. There are some jobs that are located physically on campus, but the employer is not the University of North Dakota. If you are considering one of these jobs, please check with an International Student Advisor first to make sure that this is considered on-campus employment.
Eligibility and Hours
You may work on campus upon beginning classes at UND. Students may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours per week during vacation periods (winter and summer breaks only).
- You are allowed to work multiple jobs, but the total combined hours must not exceed 20 hours in any week.
- It is your responsibility to arrange your hours with your employer(s) to ensure that you do not work more than 20 hours.
- The 20 hour per week limit is a strict limit that must be followed every week. Your hours cannot be averaged across a pay period.
- Graduate assistantships count toward the 20 hour per week maximum.
- Half-time assistantships count as 20 hours/week of employment. You may not take any other jobs on campus if you have a half-time assistantship.
- Quarter time assistantships count as 10 hours/week of employment. You may work a maximum of 10 additional hours per week if you have a quarter time assistantship.
Employment During Vacation Periods
- During official vacation periods (summer and winter) F-1 and J-1 status students are allowed to work full time.
- Graduate students with assistantships during the vacation periods are not eligible to work more than 20 hours per week any time the graduate assistantship is in effect. This is in accordance with the School of Graduate Studies policy.
- Valid Form I-20
- On campus employment eligibility is part of your status. By showing that you are in valid status, you show that you are eligible for employment.
- Social Security Number
- Valid Form DS-2019
- Employment Authorization Letter from an International Student Advisor
- Letter is job specific and for a specified period of time
- Social Security Number
Finding On-Campus Employment
The best way to find on-campus jobs is through the Student Employment site. F-1 and J-1 students are eligible for "On-Campus Institutional Jobs."
Graduate students interested in graduate assistantships should contact their departments or the School of Graduate Studies for more information.
Authorization based on Economic Hardship is intended for students who have experienced financial need that is both unforeseen and beyond the student's control since beginning their studies at UND. It is available for students in F-1 or J-1 status.
Economic Hardship should be considered only after all other potential employment opportunities have been found to be insufficient. You can
Eligibility and Hours
- There are no restrictions on the type of employment, but students are still restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week.
- Authorization is granted for periods of up to one year.
- Authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.).
- Applications can take 3-4 months for review. You may not begin working until the application has been approved and your employment authorization document has been received.
- You can find full instructions here
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an authorization for training opportunities that are an integral part of your program of study, whether paid or unpaid. CPT is authorized for opportunities such as:
- Required internships/training
- Credited internships
- Authorized cooperative education
- You are eligible for CPT to work off campus after you have maintained F-1 student status in the United States for one academic year.
- You must have a minimum 2.0 GPA as an undergraduate student or a 3.0 as a graduate student.
- You must receive academic credit in your program of study for the employment.
- CPT can be authorized only for periods during your program of study. It cannot be authorized after you have completed the program.
- If participating in CPT during the regular semester, you may work no more than 20 CPT hours per week and must continue to be enrolled in a full course of study as defined by your program.
To apply for CPT, you must work with an International Student Advisor.
- Review the CPT Checklist.
- Review the CPT Student Guide - make sure you are enrolled in credit and have a job offer letter
- Complete the CPT Application - You provide your academic advisor with the CPT Department Guide and employers with CPT Employer Guide if they have questions about their role in the process.
- Email your documents to an International Student Advisor or schedule an appointment for document review.
- If everything is in order, the advisor will authorize CPT and create a new I-20 for you. *Please note, students should submit completed applications for review. Incomplete application packets will not receive authorization
CPT must be authorized before the first day of your training program. If you do not receive this authorization first, you will be engaging in unauthorized employment. Please note - While you should should prepare all documents and ensure you have appropriate signatures before setting up a CPT appointment, from time to time issues do arise that prevent you from being authorized for CPT at the time of your appointment. While authorization does normally happen during the CPT appointment, we do suggest you give yourself at least a week before you need to begin working just in case something comes up.
On October 2nd, 2020, the I-765 filing fee was set to increase from $410 to $550. However, this increase is currently enjoined in a court case and has not taken affect at this time. Please consult with an advisor regarding this situation before submitting your OPT application.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorization for employment opportunities that are directly related to your field of study.
- You do not need to be receiving academic credit to be eligible.
- OPT is granted for a maximum of 12 months per degree level. (You can do OPT in your field of study for 12 months after you graduate from UND.)
- Students in certain STEM degrees may be eligible for one 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.
- To maintain legal status while on OPT, you must complete the OPT Reporting Form within ten days of beginning a new job, a change in job information, or every six months if nothing changes. STEM students have additional reporting and evaluation requirements.
Types of OPT
You may be approved for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT. Certain students are eligible to extend Post-Completion OPT if they have degrees in STEM fields.
- On a part time basis while pursuing your program
- Full time during summer vacation
- Full time for students who have completed all requirements for their degrees except for the thesis or equivalent (may also qualify as post-completion)
- Full time for all students during the year immediately following completion of the program
- Applications for post-completion must be submitted no earlier than 90 days before the graduation date and no later than 60 days following graduation. We strongly recommend submitting earlier rather than later.
- Students who have completed degrees in STEM-designated fields may qualify for an extension of 24 additional months. To determine if you qualify, check the six-digit code that follows your major on your I-20. If that code appears on the STEM list, you may apply for a STEM extension with an E-Verify Employer.
- See the USCIS STEM Extension Page for full details
- See the International Center's STEM Extension Information for full details about the process at UND.
You must apply for OPT with an International Student Advisor about four months before you need to start work/before your current EAD expires..
OPT authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and you will be required to pay a filling fee to USCIS.
To begin the application process you must work with an International Student Advisor
- Use the OPT Checklist and Employment Application Instructions to gather and complete the necessary documents.
- Review the Optional Practical Training Information Sheet
- If you already have an employment offer or are applying for STEM extension, complete the OPT Reporting Form and provide a job offer letter detailing job duties, compensation, and dates of employment
- Work with the appropriate to person to complete the required recommendation or training
- Undergraduate Students - work with Academic Advisor to complete either the International Center's Undergraduate OPT Recommendation Request
- Graduate Students - work with Academic Advisor or Chair to complete Graduate OPT Recommendation Request
- Students Applying for STEM extension- work with your employer to complete the Form I-983. Information you need to complete page one
- Email your documents to an International Student Advisor or schedule an appointment* for document review.
- Once you receive your new I-20 with an OPT recommendation, refer to the mailing checklist to assemble your application packet. Mail your application via UEMS.
Please note - *If you plan to make an in-person appointment, you MUST have a completed packet of all the items on the OPT Checklist. Please do NOT bring original documents to your appointment. If your packet is incomplete, you will be asked to make another appointment. While we try to issue OPT I-20s as soon as the packet is complete, sometimes there are delays, so we strongly suggest allowing 2-4 days for processing time.
- USCIS MUST receive and log all OPT applications within the 30 days of the OPT I-20 being issued. Applications received with I-20s older than 30 days will not be considered
- USCIS MUST receive and log all Post-Completion OPT applications no later than 60 days after the program end date listed on the OPT I-20 and STEM extension applications before the original OPT expires. Applications not logged by USCIS adjudicators within 60 days of the program end date will be denied
- The filing fee is non-refundable
- Students on OPT must report all changes to USCIS either through the SEVP portal or the International Center within 10 days of a change. STEM students must continue to update their I-983. If nothing changes students must complete the form every six months to verify their information is correct.
- A successfully filed application for the 24-month STEM OPT extension prior to the expiration of the current EAD, permits students to continue employment until the OPT extension is processed or until 180 days has passed, whichever is sooner
- You should receive a receipt with a receipt number about two weeks after USCIS receives your application. You can use this number to check the status of your application
- Applications typically take 90 days to be processed, though they can take longer, especially for pre-completion OPT. Please consider this in deciding when to apply
- Expedited processing is not available
- Even if your OPT is approved, you are not authorized to work without a valid EAD card in hand.
J-1 Academic Training is authorized work, training or experience that is directly related to your J-1 program of study.
Eligibility and Hours
- Academic Training can be authorized during the program of study or immediately upon completion of the program of study.
- Academic Training for degree seeking students may not exceed 18 months or the total length of the program of study, if it is shorter.
- Academic Training for non-degree seeking students may not exceed the total length of the program of study (e.g. A student in a 4 month program may be authorized for a maximum of 4 months of academic training).
- Non-degree seeking J-1 students are limited to a maximum stay in the United States of 24 months including the program of study and any period of academic training.
- You must meet with an International Student Advisor to receive current eligibility and application requirements.
- All authorization must be completed prior to the first day of Academic Training.