Employment / Practical Training
An internship as an international student is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Before beginning any internship, you must have official authorization from immigration. You may do an internship (CPT) only if:
- The internship is an integral part of your degree plan (e.g., required course for major or degree completion requirement)
- You meet the CPT eligibility requirements available at the CPT FAQs document
- You have completed the Cooperative Education Agreement from the Career Center
You are allowed to work on-campus for a maximum of 20 hours/week while school is in session and 40 hours/week ( full-time) during vacations and breaks. If you are hired for a position at Cal Lutheran, you will need to follow these steps to apply for a Social Security Card:
- Get an official letter (on department's letterhead) from your campus employer that details your name, start date and number of hours/week, job title, pay rate, the employer's EIN and their contact information
- After you get your employer's letter, please select letter request on our internal platform and upload your employer's letter . We will then provide you with a Social Security verification letter
- Follow the Social Security Administration instructions for an "original social security card for a noncitizen adult" application. You will be asked to provide your employer letter, the OISS verification letter, and all your travel documents.
Volunteering is a great way to “make a difference,” help people where there is a need, and participate in your community. As an F1 student, you may volunteer while you study in the United States, but you must maintain your nonimmigrant student status by complying with Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations.
As a general rule, if someone is usually paid to do this as a job, then it is considered employment. You do not need specific authorization to engage in occasional volunteer opportunities.
You are encouraged to participate in volunteer opportunities through our Community Service Center.
Optional Practical Training
Undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status can work towards getting practical training to complete their field of study. This is called Optional Practical Training (OPT). There are two types: pre-completion (before you graduate) and post-completion (after you graduate)
Are you eligible for OPT?
You must be in the U.S. in active F-1 status for at least 1 full academic year, and have a valid passport for at least 6 months to be eligible to apply. If you are applying for post-completion OPT be sure that you are in your last term or semester. You are eligible to apply for a new OPT at each education level (associates, bachelors, masters, doctorate). Keep in mind that your employment must be related to your major. If you realize after applying that you have to take more courses, you will lose a substantial portion of your OPT as it will be reduced to part-time OPT until you complete your studies.
Fill out an OPT Request on your OISS portal
Find your OPT application instructions, checklist, Q&A links on your OISS Student portal under "OPT Request". You do not need to schedule an appointment with the OISS to apply for post-completion OPT, unless you have questions about the process. If you are applying for pre-completion OPT, please schedule a time with a Designated School Officer (DSO), so we can determine your eligibility.
Apply for your OPT on MyUSCIS
Once the OISS has reviewed your OPT request, we will issue you an "OPT Requested" I-20, which is a required supporting document. The online filing option allows F-1 students to apply for the post-completion OPT, request a Social Security Number (SSN) (if needed), upload supporting application documents, pay the filing fee, track the status of their application, communicate with USCIS and receive all notifications from USCIS via their online account (these include pending notices, requests for evidence (RFE), denials, and approvals).
Maintaining your OPT status
You should not travel outside the U.S. while you have an OPT application in pending
status. Once you are in possession of your employment authorization document (EAD card) and
uploaded your EAD card (front & back) to your OISS student portal, you may travel and return with an employment letter (example) which states when you will return, a valid visa, a signed I-20 from the OISS office,
and your EAD card. You must let us know when you have updated the SEVP portal when you report your employment so that we can issue you an updated employment I-20
or if you are ending your OPT early. For OPT STEM students, make sure you report on your program participation every 6 months.
Changing status from OPT to H-1b
To change your status from F-1 OPT to H-1b, you must be sponsored by your employer while still on OPT. Your H-1b application has to be filed on April 1st. After you do so, you can continue working on your OPT until a decision is made beyond the expiration of your OPT. If approved, your H-1b will start on October 1st. This extension period is called "Cap Gap". The OISS office will issue an extended I-20 to reflect the Cap Gap when provided with evidence of a pending application.