Bristol Community College international students who are in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, and have been in good standing for at least one semester, have the option to work at on-campus jobs. When school is in session, an international student can work a maximum of 20 hours per week. During winter or summer break, you will be allowed to work a maximum of 40 hours per week. Once you have found a job, it is important to remember that you cannot start working until you are enrolled in classes for the upcoming semester.
In limited circumstances, international students who have been in-status for at least two semesters are eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization. An F-1 visa student may be authorized to work off-campus while school is in session and during school vacations due to (or through) economic hardship, curricular practical training (CPT) and/or optional practical training (OPT).
To be eligible for any off-campus employment, the international student must be in compliance with the following:
- Be enrolled for one academic year (two consecutive semesters)
- Be in good standing with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Be in good standing with Bristol Community College
- Receive written permission from the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) or Designated School Official (DSO)
Student employment, both on-campus and off-campus, is limited to no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. During holidays and school vacations, student employment can be full-time. You must receive written permission in order to work off-campus.
Employment Based on Economic Hardship
The DHS considers severe economic hardship only in situations that are unforeseen and beyond your control (such as documented significant devaluation of your home currency or unexpected changes in the financial condition of your main source of income (due to loss of job, illness, death, etc.).
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
International students who have cooperative education as part of their academic program can receive endorsement CPT. This training will not affect other practical training, provided the total amount of CPT authorized is less than 12 months of full-time training. If a student completes 12 or more months of full-time CPT, he or she is ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). But he or she may be eligible for to do some part-time CPT in conjunction with full-time studies.
For CPT opportunities, you should contact the PDSO or DSO (the Dean of Admission or the Registrar). Because of the many procedures involved, you should begin process several weeks in advance of the semester you wish to begin. You will need to submit the appropriate documents to the PDSO or DSO and receive written work authorization from DHS/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the back of your I-20 BEFORE you begin work.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
OPT is one year of full-time work permission in a student’s field of study after completion of studies at each degree level. OPT should be viewed as a benefit of maintaining your F-1 visa status rather than a right. The “field of study” must be directly related to your I-20 form. “Completion of studies” refers to the timeframe that international students can apply for OPT – 90 days prior to OR 60 days after their program completion date. Your OPT documents should submitted well before your program completion date in order to avoid potential delays in processing your OPT card. The actual start date on OPT must be within 60 days after the program completion date OR the date OPT is adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
During post-completion OPT, F-1 visa status is dependent upon employment. If the student accrues an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment on post-completion standard initial OPT, the student loses his or her F-1 visa status.
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
OPT must still be completed within a period of 14 months after program completion date. However, if the employer files for an H1B for the student in a timely manner for the next fiscal year, the student is granted an automatic extension of Duration of Status and Employment Authorization until the H1B is approved, denied, rejected or revoked.
If the H1B is denied, the student will have the standard 60-day period (from notification of the denial or rejection of the petition) before they have to leave the U.S. (or change status to B-2 or begin a new F-1 program of study).
Students on standard OPT must report to the PDSO or DSO (Dean of Admission or Registrar) of any changes of student’s legal name, student’s residential address, employer’s name, employer’s address or student’s loss of employment. Students must report employer information within 10 days of obtaining employment.