International students work options in the U.S
A question that is of great importance to most students considering studying in the U.S is if they can work while on their student visa. A student looking to work while studying is basically trying to lower his living and total education costs by working part time while continuing to be a student full time.
Now before we give you a straight Yes or No answer let us look at some of the options that a student has at his or her disposal to be able to fund their education and living costs. Like all resident students, international students first objective or priority when it comes to financing their education is to look at available scholarships or grants. While international student are not eligible for federal scholarships, there often are private scholarships or financing available from the college itself that can really help lower your total education costs.
Back to the question of working on an F-1 visa. Yes, you can but there are many conditions. Make sure you read them thoroughly before you get carried away. On an F-1 Student visa you can work only on campus and only part time. Also remember that working on campus is only permitted if you are a full time enrolled student. Colleges and Universities often have many teaching and research assistantships that are part-time and on campus. This satisfies both the conditions that you can work only on campus and part time.
Now remember, working on campus does not mean that you not be eligible for scholarship funding or you cannot receive scholarship funds. While colleges and universities try to be fair when it comes to disbursing available funds to as many deserving students as possible, you should take heart in the fact that it is always to deserving students that scholarships are awarded. So if your grades are great then you can expect a bit of both. When you work on-campus, you can work for a specified number of hours during the week and you will be paid on an hourly basis. Bear in mind, you cannot exceed your working hours than what is specified. You are, after all, a student who has come to the United States to pursue an education. Once again, just so it is clear, working off-campus is not permitted.
Working while on OPT & CPT
Once you have completed your course, an international student on an F-1 visa can apply for what is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the Curriculum Practical Training (CPT).
The OPT is the training period where an undergraduate or graduate international student having completed his degree course that is for a minimum period of nine months are permitted to put their training and education into use by working for a maximum period of one year. They are permitted to work on an OPT by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for a maximum period of one year on their F-1 student visa. They do not need to get an H-1B visa or a different type of work visa for their practical training. The same rules apply for the CPT.
The students need to be certified by their college or university and their employer (trainer) that the OPT or CPT is related to their field or course of study and will be useful in achieving their degree goals. The training time has to be divided between the OPT and CPT and the student as to ensure that the period of 12 months is not exceeded.