On-Campus Employment, OPT, CPT, and Academic Training

Your IPO advisor will continue to process F-1 CPT and OPT applications and J-1 Academic Training applications. Please see F-1 student employment information and J-1 student employment information for further information.


Q: Are there any changes to current F-1 or J-1 work regulations?

A: No. F-1 and J-1 students are still allowed to work on-campus up to a maximum 20-hours per week or less while the current semester is in session (even with remote instruction). Non-assistantship on-campus employment beyond 20-hours per week is not allowed except for vacation and interim periods when school is not in session (Summer, Winter, Thanksgiving Break, Spring Break). Any/all off-campus employment is only allowed through authorized CPT, OPT or J-1 Academic Training (see the employment links above).

Q: I am planning to graduate and work in the U.S. What job search advice do you have for me in the current COVID-19 situation?

A: A recommended source on job search advice can be found on this website.

Q: I still need to apply for OPT but I am outside of the US. Can I still apply for OPT? 

A: Based on current regulations, you must be physically inside the US at the time you submit your OPT application to the immigration service (USCIS). If you plan to travel after submitting your application, we recommend that your application is pending so you know your case has been accepted by USCIS. You must also keep in mind changing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements around the world and within the U.S.

Q: I'm currently on F-1 Post-completion Optional Training or STEM OPT and have been working remotely. Can I continue to do so?

A: As long as you continue to hold suitable employment related to your field of study and continue to report your OPT/STEM OPT employment to the IPO there are no changes to your underlying F-1 status or ability to remain employed remotely. Our OPT/STEM OPT reporting forms allow you to indicate if you are in person or remote.

Q: How long are OPT applications taking once filed with USCIS?

A: Currently USCIS continues to process OPT/STEM OPT applications as normal, and recent processing trends have been approximately 3 – 4 months. Our OPT/STEM OPT information is here.

Q: Can I apply for an SSN right now?

A: Current Social Security Administration operations are severely limited until further notice. Current SSN application steps may be different than what students normally experience. Should you need to apply for an SSN, please contact your local SSN office to determine their new procedures and discuss these with your employer prior to sending in any original documents through the mail to the SSN office. Information on SSN eligibility can be found here and the USCIS I-9 Fact Sheet can be found here.

*Students applying for an SSN through their OPT application to USCIS can continue to do so without issue by filling out the appropriate boxes on their I-765.

Q: Can I depart the US and travel internationally after I mail my OPT application to USCIS? 

A: Yes, but be sure to be in close contact with your IPO advisor for more specific information based on your own particular situation. If you plan to travel after submitting your application, we recommend that your application is pending so you know your case has been accepted by USCIS. You must also keep in mind changing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements around the world and within the U.S. You would still be required to possess a valid F-1 visa and have evidence of US employment for re-entry to the US. Specific travel information for OPT or STEM OPT can be found under the FAQs of the respective website here.

Q: I used the IPO’s address to receive my OPT EAD, approval notice, and receipt notice. What should I do to receive these documents?

A: You will be notified by the IPO by email if you have a document to collect from the IPO such as a new OPT EAD card, etc. Refer to this email for further details and instructions. Please note that the IPO remains closed for walk-in service.

Q: I'm currently on J-1 Academic Training have been working remotely. Can I continue to do so?

A: "Sponsors may continue to temporarily allow active students to continue their Academic Training remotely to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. In the case of graduating students, sponsors may temporarily allow them to begin their Academic Training remotely to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 as long as the host organization is open and able to provide the training remotely. This policy reflects sponsor obligations to promote the health, safety and welfare of Exchange Visitor Program participants while at the same time meeting program objectives. Other conditions, criteria and requirements under the regulations remain in effect. In the case of a College or University Student participating in Academic Training, for example, the regulations require that the student be primarily in the United States to study rather than to participate in Academic Training, that the Academic Training be directly related to his or her major field of study, that the student be in good academic standing with the post-secondary accredited academic institution; and the student receive written approval in advance from the responsible officer for the duration and type of academic training (22 CFR 62.23(f))." Exchange Visitor Program Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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