On Campus Employment Information

On Campus Employment

An F-1 student is generally permitted to work part-time on campus while they are enrolled full time in a course of study at HFC and maintaining their F-1 status. On-campus employment does not require the Designated School Official (DSO) authorization. There is no fee, and no authorization from USCIS is required.

Students may work up to 20 hours/week on-campus during the academic year, full-time on-campus during vacation periods (on-campus means work performed on the school's premises). You should visit the Career Services Office on campus if you are interested in working on campus.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

An F-1 student may participate in a “curricular practical training program that is:

  • “an integral part of an established curriculum” and
  • "directly related to the student’s major area of study.”

Curricular practical training is defined as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” To qualify, the work experience must be required for your degree or, if not required, you must receive academic credit for the training.

Curricular Practical Training is granted directly by a Designated School Official (DSO) in the International Student Services office, located on the second floor of the Welcome Center. The DSO will endorse the student’s SEVIS record and issue a Form I-20 annotated on page 3 with the name of employer, location and period approved for CPT. Before granting CPT, a DSO must find the student eligible for that benefit, by determining that:

  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status
  • The student has been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year (2 consecutive semesters)
  • The student will continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT
  • The student must be able to receive credit for CPT through an internship or co-op course within their program
  • The training is directly related to the students major area of study
  • The student must have a job offer at the time of application
  • The student must be pursuing an associate degree (students in the ELI are not eligible)

Required Documentation:

  1. A letter of recommendation from a Counselor, or the Associate Dean of the Department that is recommending the internship, coop or other type of practicum. Letter must:
    1. State that the internship/CPT is a required part of the student’s program (if applicable)
    2. State the name, course number, credit hours, and term of the class the CPT is fulfilling
    3. Include a brief explanation of how the student’s employment is curricular and directly related to student’s major area of study
  2. A job offer from your employer written on company letterhead with the following:
    1. Addressed to you
    2. Employer name
    3. Job title and detailed job description
    4. Employment location (full address)
    5. Specify the number of hours per week
    6. Exact start and end dates of employment
  3. Print-out of your unofficial transcript showing CPT course enrollment

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is defined as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” Henry Ford College offers Pre-completion OPT and Post-completion OPT.


Pre-completion OPT
  • Student must have been enrolled on a full-time basis in one full academic year (2 consecutive semesters) prior to the start of employment.
  • Student must be maintaining valid F-1 status
  • Student must intend to register for the next term
  • Student must have not engaged in more than 12 months of full-time CPT at their current academic level
Post-completion OPT
  • Student must be maintaining valid F-1 status
  • Student must have completed your requirements for your academic program of study or are in your final semester of completion of your academic program
  • Student must have not engaged in more than 12 months of full-time CPT at their current academic level

Part-time border commuter students are only eligible for post-completion OPT.


Students may engage in OPT for any employer for the duration of OPT authorization; as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.


Students can receive a cumulative 12 months of OPT authorization. Any time spent doing pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the allowable 12 months of post-completion OPT.

Hours per week

Pre-completion OPT: Students may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) while school is in session (fall and winter semesters), or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) when school is not in session (spring and summer semesters).

Post-completion OPT: Students may work part-time or full-time.

Field/level of work

Must be directly related to the student's course of study.

Offer of employment

No offer of employment is required to apply for OPT, but the student is expected to work during the OPT EAD validity period. Students on post-completion OPT are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment (including weekends).

Effect on other work

Prior use of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for 12 months or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training.

Approval process

  • Student must meet with DSO to discuss application requirements.
  • DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS and issues OPT endorsed I-20 to student.
  • Student files I-765 application
  • Work can begin only after receiving EAD issued by USCIS, and on or after the start date on the EAD.
  • The student is required report their employers address and the address they will be staying at during the OPT period to their DSO.
  • Any change of address during OPT (student or employer) must be updated by the DSO.

OPT Application Steps and Deadlines

  1. Student makes a request for OPT to DSO (International Student Services office)
  2. After reviewing all required documents and determining eligibility, the DSO updates SEVIS with an OPT recommendation.
  3. The DSO provides the student with a signed, dated Form I-20 indicating that OPT has been recommended.
  4. The DSO will send the completed petition packet to USCIS within the filing deadline.

Filing Deadlines:

Pre-completion OPT:

A student may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days prior to having been enrolled for one full academic year.

Post-completion OPT:

The earliest you may submit your application to USCIS is 90 days prior to graduation. The latest you may submit your application is 60 days after graduation. Once your OPT endorsed I-20 has been issued, you have only 30 days to properly file the application to be received by USCIS.

Required Documentation:

  • G-1145
  • I-765
  • Copies of all prior forms I-20
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of visa
  • Recommendation letter from academic advisor, showing evidence of program completion (post-completion OPT only)
  • 2 identical passport sized photos (white background)
  • Copy of previous EAD card, if applicable
  • Check or money order made payable to DHS in amount of $410
  • OPT endorsed I-20 signed and dated by DSO and student.

Visits Outside of the United States and their Impact on OPT

It is important to note that immigration regulations state that students must be in valid F-1 status for one consecutive academic year prior to being eligible for practical training. If you depart the United States for five months or longer, after being in the United States in F-1 status for one academic year, you will not be eligible for practical training until you have spent another academic year in F-1 status. Departures from the United States of less than five months have no impact on this provision.

An F-1 student who is engaged in post-completion OPT and travels outside the United States temporarily (i.e., less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her EAD card, provided that the following conditions are met.

  • The student presents a Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO within the preceding 6 months
  • The student presents an unexpired EAD
  • The student is returning to resume employment (Student should carry employment documentation from employer)

Students approved for post-completion OPT continue to be in F-1 status. They are therefore subject not only to the requirements that they have an I-20 endorsed for travel and an EAD, but to the requirement that they have a valid F-1 visa to re-enter the United States, unless they are exempt from the visa requirement.

Off-Campus Employment

A student may be authorized for off-campus employment under the following circumstances:

  • Severe, unforeseen economic necessity
  • Internship with an International Organization
  • Employment based on the Special Student Relief program

Severe, unforeseen economic necessity

Student must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. The student can write a statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, should attach backup documentation: for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of currency devaluation in the students country.

An F-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus in any job (does not have to be related to course of study ) on a part-time basis after having been in F-1 status for one full academic year provided the student is in good academic standing as determined by the Designated School Official (DSO) in International Admissions. Part time off-campus employment is limited to no more than twenty hours a week when school is in session. A student who is granted off-campus employment authorization may work full-time during holidays or school vacations. The employment authorization is automatically terminated whenever the student fails to maintain status.

You must have made a “good faith" effort to find employment on-campus. If unable to find adequate work on-campus, the student can explain why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient (a simple statement might suffice). Work does not have to relate to field of study.

Required Documentation

  • Supporting documentation (Documented evidence of financial hardship)
  • 2 photos taken no more than 30 days before filing the form
  • I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
  • Check or money order for the I-765 fee

Internship with an International Organization

This F-1 employment benefit allows F-1 students to work for recognized international organizations within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act.

Employment based on the Special Student Relief program

Regulations allow DHS to suspend or alter rules regarding duration of status, full course of study, and employment eligibility, for specific groups of F-1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. This collection of benefits is known as "special student relief.

The regulatory provisions are generic, and are activated only when DHS makes a finding of emergent circumstances, and publishes a notice in the Federal Register to define the specifics of what is to be suspended, and for whom, and the procedures for how to apply for any benefits that result from the suspension.

The benefits can be understood as a "package" consisting of on- or off-campus work authorization and authorization to reduce one's course load. The reduced course load benefit is only available to students who acquire work authorization through the notice, and is not available separately.