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F-1 Employment

On-Campus Employment: F-1 students are allowed to work on campus. International students are restricted to 20 hours per week during required terms, and can work more than 20 hours during non-required terms and academic breaks, such as Spring break, Winter break, etc. International students do not need to request permission from their International Student Advisor before beginning work on campus. Students who violate the terms of their immigration status are ineligible to work on campus.

For more information on finding on-campus employment, please refer to:

On Campus Student Jobs

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is authorized off-campus work for F-1 students, and is granted by the university for an internship, co-operative education course, alternative work/study, or for practical experience in the student’s field of study. The training requested must be directly related to the student’s degree program and “an integral part of an established curriculum” [8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)].

Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is for F-1 students. It is temporary employment authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that is directly related to the student's major area of study [8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(ii)]. There are multiple types of OPT:

  • Pre-Completion OPT—Utilized before a student completes his/her program
  • Post-Completion OPT—Utilized after the student has completed his/her program
  • OPT STEM Extension—An extension of a Post-Completion OPT that is related to the student’s field of study and based on the recommendation of his/her employer.

Volunteering: The United States government, under section 29 CFR 553.101, defines a volunteer as an individual who performs services for public agencies. These services are civic, charitable, or humanitarian in nature, and are completed without the expectation or receipt of compensation. Students considering volunteer work in an unpaid position should let their International Student Advisor evaluate the details of their specific situation before beginning. Students should understand that to work without payment is not the same as to volunteer. Positions that are traditionally paid do not qualify as volunteer work.

Severe Economic Hardship: This is off-campus work that is authorized by the USCIS if other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient. An eligible F-1 student may request authorization for off-campus employment in the event of severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. The government limits this type of work to students who have accrued large, unexpected medical bills, or have been affected by substantial fluctuations in the value of currency, exchange rates, or the financial conditions of their family or sponsors [8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)]. Students who are interested in acquiring authorization for this type of work should be prepared to pay an application fee of $380 to the USCIS. Students prepared to apply for authorization should contact their International Student Advisor for more information.

International Organizations: F-1 students who have been offered employment by a recognized international organization listed under the International Organization Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669) can qualify for permission to work off campus [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(9)(iii)]. Students should contact their International Student Advisor for more information


  • International Student Services

    Phone: 281-283-2740
    Fax: 281-226-7038

    Bayou Building B2123
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 225
    Houston, TX 77058-1002