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Can I work if I am on a Student Visa?

If you are an international student studying in the United States, you may be wondering if you are allowed to work while you are on a student visa. The answer is yes, but there are restrictions and requirements you need to be aware of. In this article, we will explore the rules and regulations around working on a student visa in the United States.



Types of Employment on a Student Visa

There are two types of employment available for international students on a student visa: on-campus employment and off-campus employment.


On-Campus Employment

International students on a student visa are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during school breaks. On-campus employment includes work done for the school itself, like working in the library, the bookstore, or the dining hall. It can also include work done for a commercial firm that operates on campus, like a restaurant or a bookstore. However, there are some restrictions to on-campus employment. For example, you cannot work for a private company that is not affiliated with the school.


Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus employment is available to international students on a student visa, but it requires approval from the school's international student office and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are two types of off-campus employment available: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is employment that is an integral part of your curriculum and is required for your degree program. CPT can be full-time or part-time, and you must receive approval from your school's international student office before starting CPT. To be eligible for CPT, you must have completed one academic year of full-time study.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to your major area of study. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before you complete your academic program, and you can work for up to 12 months. If you are in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field, you may be eligible for a 24-month extension of your OPT.


Requirements for Employment on a Student Visa

To be eligible for employment on a student visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be in good academic standing with your school.

  • You must be enrolled full-time in an academic program.

  • You must have a valid F-1 or M-1 visa.

  • You must have been enrolled in your school for at least one academic year before you can apply for CPT or OPT.

In addition, you will need to obtain a Social Security number in order to work in the United States. You can apply for a Social Security number at your local Social Security Administration office.


Conclusion

In summary, international students on a student visa are allowed to work in the United States, but there are restrictions and requirements you need to be aware of. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year, while off-campus employment requires approval from your school's international student office and the USCIS. To be eligible for employment on a student visa, you must be in good academic standing, enrolled full-time in an academic program, and have a valid F-1 or M-1 visa. If you meet these requirements, you can explore the various employment options available to you as an international student in the United States.

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