The USA has some of the world’s top-ranking universities, offering internationally recognized qualifications and vibrant campus culture. International students in the USA usually seek part-time employment to cover tuition costs and day-to-day living expenses. There are four options for such students to be employed in the USA while pursuing their education.

On-Campus Jobs

It includes work taking place on the university campus or at an off-campus location associated with the school’s curriculum or, at the post-graduate level, related to a research project that is contractually funded. On-campus employment does not require any expenditure on transportation or a long commute. So, students can easily balance their on-campus job with their academics. It is the only kind of job that a first-year student can pursue.

Colleges and universities have educational partnerships and buildings across the town or city, so the job doesn’t need to occur on the student’s campus. So, these jobs could include working in the college library, bookstore, cafeteria, or at an affiliated research lab located off-campus. When the session is ongoing, the student can work in USA for up to 20 hours per week. Full-time work is permitted on holidays and during vacations. Students can do more than one on-campus job, but the total weekly working time cannot exceed 20 hours.

Off-Campus Jobs

Students who have completed one academic year facing a qualifying economic hardship or exceptional emergent circumstances can pursue off-campus employment.

  • Economic hardship could include loss of the on-campus job or financial aid (without any fault of the student), a sharp increase in living or tuition expenses, substantial decrease in the value of the currency. The student pays costs, changes to the source of financial support, significant medical expenses not covered by insurance, or other unexpected but substantial expenses.
  • Emergent circumstances refer to world events that impact certain US Student Visa holders, causing severe financial hardship. It includes war, natural disasters, military conflict, and economic crises at the national or international level.

The student can contact their Designated School Official to approve their reasons and recommend off-campus employment. While this application is being processed, the student cannot begin working. So, it is best to apply early as soon as the student gets a job offer. If the application is approved, the student can work for 20 hours every week.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

This option is meant for students to gain real-world experience in their field of study through internships or practicum with partnering employers. This option allows for full-time work with no limit on weekly working hours. Students can get more than one CPT authorization at a time. To qualify, the student should have completed one academic year unless they are a graduate student in a program that immediately requires CPT. Upon completing one or more years of full-time CPT, the student becomes eligible for Optional Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

It means temporary employment of up to 12 months in the relevant field of study. To qualify, the student’s school must endorse the student’s application and submit it to USCIS. There are two OPT categories:

  • Pre-completion OPT is available after completing one academic year at a university or college in the USA. The student can work for up to 20 hours per week while the school is in session or full-time when it is not.
  • Post-completing OPT is available after completing the studies. Those authorized for this category can work full-time or part-time.

If a student wishes to join pre-completion and post-completion OPT, the maximum work period of 12 months can be divided between the two. For instance, students who did nine months of pre-completion OPT can only do three months of post-completion OPT after graduating.

Gaining any work experience helps international students in USA to enhance their employment prospects either in the United States or in their home country. So, finding a suitable job can be a step towards the student’s long-term immigration goals. To navigate each step of the overseas education journey with the assistance of experienced consultants, contact +91 8595338595 or

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