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Employment for F1 Students

Type of Employment

Employment Authorized By:

Special Remarks:


Can work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time (40 hours per week) during summer or semester breaks.

Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Approval of employment by Co-op Office staff, Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown. Authorization from DSO.

No minimum period; full-time. NO part time CPT permitted. If over 12 months, student forfeits Optional Practical Training. Must be in US for 9 months. One-credit co-op course enrollment and associated tuition payment required.

Optional Practical Training

Documentation must be mailed to USCIS; EAD required. Processing time approx. 3 months. Can apply 90 days before completion of program.

Must be related to field of study. Must be in the US for 9 months. Can be full or part-time. Time used before completion of degree will be subtracted from the 12-month period.

Severe Economic Hardship

Documentation must be submitted for review to IGSS; if approved, must be mailed to USCIS; EAD required. Processing time approximately 3 months. Apply 90 days before you want employment to begin.

According to federal immigration regulations, an F-1 student may apply for off-campus employment work authorization based upon "severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control."[8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)] Speak to an advisor at International Graduate Student Services for more information on applying for work authorization based on severe economic hardship.


Please understand that the application process for this off-campus employment authorization is burdensome to complete, requires payment of a sizeable fee, and USCIS requires at least 3 months to process the required application. Work is limited to 20 hours per week while classes are in session, and 40 hours a week during winter and summer breaks. The period of authorization cannot exceed one year.


Most students who need employment find work on campus, where no time-consuming permission procedure is necessary, and no application fee is required. You can work on campus for the same 20 hour period, and the pay rates may be equal or better to those found in off campus jobs in Blacksburg.