Can I get a job on campus with an F-1 visa? If so, how does it affect my OPT?

by Su Hsiang Yu | In Immigration Assistance and Information, MPOWER VIP | 11 July 2019 | Updated on: March 2nd, 2021


Yes! You can get a job on campus as an international student with an F-1 (student) visa. Just follow these rules and you can earn extra pocket money or lighten the load of your tuition while attending classes.

Employment Opportunities

As an international student in the U.S., you may want to get a job on campus while school is in session. Though you have a visa that allows you to be in the U.S., you still need to follow the four requirements outlined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to legally work in the U.S. with your visa.

  1. On-Campus Employment
  2. Off-Campus Employment
  3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  4. Optional Practical Training (OPT)

On-campus employment is the most easily available to F-1 students and does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Both USCIS and DHS are government branches that make decisions about international students. According to DHS, F-1 students can work on campus or at an “educationally affiliated off-campus location.” That means that F-1 students can work anywhere on campus, such as bookstores, libraries, dorms, or cafeterias. On the other hand, F-1 students can also work somewhere like an off-campus research lab, which matches DHS’s definition of “educationally affiliated off-campus location.”

During your first academic year in the U.S., you are only eligible for on-campus employment. Also, the regulation established by DHS about working time is worth emphasizing: You can only work up to 20 hours per week during the semester, but you can work full time (40 hours a week) during holidays and vacation periods, such as summer/winter vacation and Thanksgiving vacation. But bear in mind that your weekly total can be no more than 20 hours, so even if you are working more than one on-campus job you still can’t work more than 20 hours per week. Make sure you follow the 4 rules below to ensure your eligibility to work on-campus.


How do I get an on-campus job?

Job searching and interviewing can be overwhelming, particularly when you’ve never done it before. Read the following tips to get an awesome start!

Have your resume ready

Prepare a one-page resume. Most of the on-campus jobs focus on good communication and customer skills, so highlight your related experience on your resume to attract more attention.

Ask the seniors

Many of the on-campus jobs are given through internal referrals. If you have relationships with people in the community, don’t be shy and ask for help getting a job.

Visit the career center on campus

Most universities in the U.S. have a career center on campus to help students look for on-campus opportunities as well as to provide general career advice. There should be a careers website for your university that will show you all the open positions on campus. 


Joining different student organizations and networking with people you meet might give you more opportunities to get a job on campus. Approach prospective employers to seize your chance. If it’s hard for you to take the first step of reaching out to people, you might want to read The true goal of networking to help you be outstanding at networking. 


What rules should I follow to ensure my eligibility to work on-campus?

  • Have a valid F-1 visa and I-20 form
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student
  • Do not work more than 20 hours a week (part time) while school is in session
  • During your first academic year in the U.S., you are only eligible for on-campus employment; but if you are in the second semester or after, you can apply for CPT to work off-campus.
  • If you’ll be enrolled in school in the next academic year, you can work full time during holidays and vacations. For instance, if you are a student graduating in December 2019, you are not eligible to work during the winter vacation right after you graduate (normally from December 2019 to January 2020); however, if you will still be enrolled in school for the spring 2020 semester, you can work full-time on campus for the winter 2019 vacation.


Will working on campus affect my OPT?

If you only work on campus during the academic year, it will not affect your OPT situation. So, try to get a job on campus so you can have some work experiences to brighten your resume or just earn some extra cash. 


What other resources are there?

Your university’s international student office might be the best place to find resources. They work closely with USCIS and DHS, which are both government branches that make decisions about international students. Therefore, the office will be able to help you with what you need and provide you with the most up-to-date information. Make sure that you utilize them as a valuable resource. Find your school international student service website here and bookmark the page!


Can an international student work more than 20 hours a week?

As an international student, you can only work up to 20 hours per week during the semester, but you can work full time (40 hours a week) during holidays and vacation periods, such as summer/winter vacation and Thanksgiving vacation.

Can I work in the United States with a student visa?

Yes, you can work in the US with a student but with some restrictions. Students with an F-1 and M-1 visa can work on-campus and in specified training programs, but can work off-campus only after completing their first academic year.

What happens if you work more than 20 hours as a student?

This depends on your F-1 hourly limitations. If your work over our hourly limits, you have violated your F-1 student status and will have to apply for reinstatement of your F-1 status.


Author: View all post by Su Hsiang Yu

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