Information for Employers


What Employers Need to Know about F-1 Student Employment 

Students in F-1 status can be eligible for some types of work authorization, and may accept some types of employment.   All students must complete two full semesters at SJSU before they are eligible for any off-campus employment. Long-term jobs, as well as internships, co-ops, externships, practicums, etc. will generally require work authorization, and any of these employment types may be used with any of the work authorizations outlined below. 

Main Types of Employment Authorization 

Curricular Practical Training: CPT is training that is done as part of a student’s program of study. It is work for which the student gains academic credit in his or her major. For CPT, the student must enroll in an internship course, and can be authorized for CPT during the term when he or she is enrolled in the course. The CPT authorization is job specific; the authorization cannot be transferred to another position or company. The student needs a detailed job description when applying (please view our sample letter). Applying for CPT takes 1-3 weeks.

CPT Dates for academic year 2015-2016 are:

Fall 2015: 08/20/2015-12/31/2015 (part-time work only)
Spring 2016: 01/01/2016- 5/31/2016 (part-time work only)
Summer 2016: 06/01/2016-8/23/2016 (full-time work OK)

CPT Dates for academic year 2016-2017 are:

Fall 2016: 08/24/2016-12/31/2016 (part-time work only)
Spring 2017: 01/01/2017- 5/31/2017 (part-time work only)
Summer 2017: 06/01/2017- day before classes start for Fall '17 (full-time work OK)


Optional Practical Training: OPT is training that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. It is intended to provide a student with practical experience in his or her field of study during or upon completion of a degree program. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT per degree level. This authorization is not job specific; students may switch jobs while on OPT. Applying for OPT takes about 3 months.
Pre-Completion OPT: Pre-Completion OPT is done during the student’s program of study. Students can be authorized to work part-time during semesters or full-time during summer, unless the student is a graduate student working on thesis/project only. In that case, the student may work full-time during the semester.
Post-Completion OPT: Students who have completed their degree, or graduate students with only project/thesis remaining, can be authorized for Post-Completion OPT. This is always authorized full-time.
17-Month STEM Extension: The 17 Month STEM Extension is an additional 17 months of OPT. Students who have graduated with a degree in a STEM field may be eligible for this extension. The student must have a job offer from a company enrolled in E-verify, and may only work for companies enrolled in E-Verify while on this Extension.
Cap-Gap Extension: For students with an H-1B application approved or pending, the Cap-Gap extension allows a student to remain in F-1 status between the date when his status and work authorization would otherwise end, and October 1, the first day of H-1B status. If the H-1B application was filed before the student’s OPT expired, this is an extension of both status and work authorization. It is an automatic extension; the student does not need to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What kind of paperwork do I need to submit in order to hire an F-1 student?
  2. What does the student’s work authorization look like?
  3. When can a student work?
  4. How many hours per week can a student work?
  5. What is E-Verify?
  6. Are F-1 students subject to taxes?


  1. What kind of paperwork do I need to submit in order to hire an F-1 student?
    The employer does not have to file or do any paperwork with when hiring an international student, other than what is required when hiring a US Citizen.   It is the student’s responsibility to apply for the work authorization. All paperwork is handled by the student and by IPS.
  2. What does the student’s work authorization look like?
    For Pre-Completion OPT, Post-Completion OPT, and the 17-Month STEM Extension, the student receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card). For students on CPT, the authorization is located on the third page of the I-20.
  3. When can a student work?
    In general, a student may be authorized to work off-campus after a full academic year (two semesters) in good standing. Work may be authorized during or after the student’s course of study. The student may not begin work until the student has received his or her authorization, and the date on the authorization has been reached.
  4. How many hours per week can a student work?
    In general, during the Fall and Spring semesters, students may work part-time only-- 20 hours or less per week. During the summer, students may work full-time—21 hours or more per week. Graduate students who have only their thesis or project remaining may be authorized to work full-time during the semester on Post-Completion OPT or Pre-Completion OPT.
  5. What is E-Verify?
    E-Verify is an online system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the US. Students on the 17-Month (STEM) Extension may only work with companies enrolled in E-Verify. To learn more about E-verify, please see the USCIS E-Verify page.
  6. Are F-1 students subject to taxes?
    F-1 students who are non-resident aliens are not liable for Medicare/social security taxes. While employers must withhold Medicare/ Social Security taxes from employee’s wages, F-1 students who are non-residents are exempt from these taxes. An F-1 student is considered a non-resident for his or her five calendar years in the U.S. Please consult with a tax professional for more information on F-1 students and taxes.

Learn More

Code of Federal Regulations—Practical Training: 8CFR 214.2 (f)(9)&(10)
SEVP OPT Policy Guidance
SJSU International Student Advising web page
I-9 Handbook for Employers
USCIS E-Verify Website