Employment while living in the United States.
Maintaining a job while attending school can enhance your life—in more ways than one. In addition to being compensated, you can use your work experience to supplement the knowledge you are gaining in your courses, and use it as training for future career. A quality work experience will make you well-rounded and better prepared for the next steps beyond Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Learn about your options.
If you are maintaining full-time student status, you may accept a part-time job on campus for 20 hours or less per week while school is in session during the fall and spring semesters. In the summer, you can work full-time on campus.
F-1 status degree-seeking international students
Find and apply for open campus positions on the Career Development Center website. After you are offered a position, you and your employer will need to fill out the On-Campus Employment Form that the Office of International Education will need to verify and approve.
Note: If you do not already have a Social Security number you will need to obtain one. To do so, you will need to take the approved form, the Office of Institutional Equity’s employment letter, and your passport and immigration documents to the local Social Security office.
Graduate Teaching Assistant or Graduate Research Assistant
As a graduate teaching assistant or graduate research assistant, your position will be related to your major and will take place in your assigned department. If you are a graduate student who has been approved for one of these jobs, be sure to take your offer letter from your specific department to the Office of International Education.
Graduate Administrative Assistant
As a graduate administrative assistant, your position may not necessarily take place within your major department. Your position must be approved by the graduate program director and our office, and be directly related to your field of study.
J-1 status international exchange students
To work on campus, you must receive authorization and receive an updated DS-2019 form before you can begin working.
Curricular practical training (CPT) is permission to accept employment in your academic field that is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT is also defined as an alternative work-study program, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the university.
You qualify for CPT as long as it is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT can be either part-time employment (20 hours or fewer per week) while school is in session during the spring and fall, or full-time employment (more than 20 hours per week) while school is not in session during winter or summer breaks.
To be eligible for CPT you must meet the following requirements:
- Hold F-1 nonimmigrant status
- Been a full-time student in the United States for at least one academic year (two semesters), or you must be a graduate student who is required to begin practical training immediately
- Be currently enrolled full-time (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students) in a degree program while maintaining legal status
One you have received a job-offer letter from your prospective employer, download and fill out the CPT Procedure Form [PDF].
- Complete the Application for Credit from the Career Development Center and ask your prospective employer to complete Hiring Agreement.
- Send forms to the Career Development Center at [email protected].
- Obtain a new I-20 from the Office of International Education that shows the CPT work authorization.
Our authorization will indicate the whether the CPT is full-time or part-time, the name of the employer, the dates for the period of CPT, and what CPT course you will be registered for.
Note: You must register for the CPT course the same semester you are doing off-campus experience.
Things to Know
- Check if the position is full-time or part-time and whether that will change during the time of your employment; if it does change, you will need to reapply for CPT approval from the Office of International Education.
- Obtain authorization from an international-student advisor to engage in CPT each time you change employers and each time you extend the dates of your employment.
- You must receive authorization before beginning a new job or working longer at the same job.
- Duration of the CPT.
- If you use 365 days or more of full-time CPT, you will be ineligible for Optional Practical Training; you can use an unlimited amount of part-time CPT.
- Show your SEVIS I-20 with the CPT authorization to your employer as proof that you have permission to work in the United States.
- Do not begin working until you have authorization from the Office of International Education.
Optional practical training (OPT) is one year of eligibility to work in the United Stated in a job that is directly related to your major area of study. You can use OPT while you are still pursuing your course of study and/or after you have finished your degree.
The total amount of time you may spend engaging in OPT is 12 months. You may use OPT for six months before graduation and six months after graduation, but the majority of international students apply for OPT to be used all 12 months after graduation.
You will be allowed 12 months of OPT after completion of each new, higher level of education (i.e., you get 12 months of OPT after a bachelor’s degree and another 12 months for a master’s degree).
Students who are interested in OPT and are in their final semester must attend the mandatory OPT workshop, held in the Office of International Education in Walb Union.
During this workshop, we will walk you through the entire OPT process with you, from start to finish. Once your are ready to file, you will set up a one-on-one appointment for assistance with your application.
Keep an eye on your PFW email for workshop and RSVP details.
Postgraduation OPT Eligibility
Here’s what you need:
- Full-time enrollment in an academic program for at least one academic year and currently be in F-1 status.
- Request permission to engage in OPT after graduation. You must apply during your last semester before completing your degree, but no more than 90 days before your completion date listed on your I-20.
- Submit your application while you are still in the United States; you are not eligible to apply for OPT if you have already graduated and have left the United States.
F-1 students who meet the following criteria may apply for a 24-month extension:
- Currently authorized for 12 months of OPT
- Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a field that is listed on the DHS-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) from a US college or university
- Have a job offer or are employed by an employer registered with the E-Verify federal employment verification system may apply for a 24-month extension.
To apply for the 24-month extension, contact the Office of International Education at [email protected] two to three months before your current OPT expires.
Travel for Students Currently on OPT
Dates of travel outside the United States while employed do not count as days of unemployment. If you are on OPT and traveling outside the United States for a vacation or for business while continuing to be employed in your major field of study, those dates outside the United States do not need to be tracked or reported as days of unemployment.
While traveling on OPT, you are advised to carry the following:
- I-20, signed for travel (each travel signature is valid for only six months)
- Valid F-1 visa stamp
- Passport valid for at least six months into the future from the date of reentry to the United States
- Valid OPT card
- Job offer or confirmation letter; if traveling for business or on a vacation from the job, ensure that the letter clarifies this
If you are traveling outside the United States while waiting for your OPT to be approved and before you complete your degree, take the following items with you:
- Passport (valid for six months from the date of your reentry)
- Signed I-20 (each travel signature is valid for only six months)
- Valid F-1 visa stamp
Please be advised that traveling outside the United States while waiting for your OPT to be approved after degree completion may be riskier.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) policy states that Social Security numbers are issued to international students for the purpose of employment only. Therefore, the SSA is requesting schools to verify that students are in need of a Social Security number for employment by issuing a letter addressed to the SSA office. If you are an F-1 student, in order for you to receive a Social Security letter from the Office of International Education, you must have a letter on company letterhead with an official signature from either an on- or off-campus prospective employer offering you a job.
Remember to take the following documents to the SSA office:
- Office of International Education Social Security letter
- Employment offer letter
- On-campus employment authorization (green authorization form from International Student Servides to work on campus)
- Original immigration documents (Form I-20, passport, visa, I-94)
Please note that F-1 students must wait at least 15 days after entering the United States to submit a Social Security card application. However, the SSA office takes between two to four weeks to process the application and to send an official Social Security card.