March 27, 2009

Employment with a Recognized International Institution for F1 students in the U.S.A

Employment with a Recognized International Institution is a category of off-campus employment granted to international students in the United States with the F1 type of visa. Such students must be in valid F1 status in order to be granted this category of student employment (see this page for description of F class of student visa).

This is an off-campus employment option for international students with where they gain employment with a “recognized international organization.” Such an organization must be on the official State Department list to qualify as a recognized international institution. Only students with job offers and sponsorship from one of the department's listed organizations are eligible.

The State Department's listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations.

Because this form of off-campus employment does not have the universal application of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the Curricular Practical Training (CPT), this category of employment is often overlooked.

It is worth reiterating that only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations (on the state department's list) are eligible. For the lucky international students who would be able to obtain such sponsorships, there are clear benefits to this category of employment.

Requirements to work for an international organization
  • The student must have an internship/employment with a “recognized international organization.”
  • The employment must be within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship, and within the student’s field of study
  • The student must have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year
  • The student must be in good academic standing
International students who meet these requirements, and who wish to apply for this category of off-campus employment, are expected to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Only after receiving the EAD, which in normal circumstances can take up to 3 months, can the successful international student start work in the recognized international institution.

The obvious advantages of this type of employment when compared to the CPT or the OPT (see above):
  • Employment does not have to be for-credit nor required for your degree program
  • Regardless of how much or how long you work, this type of employment will not take away from your 12-month post-completion OPT
You may visit the official website of the USCIS to see the text of the entire rule governing off-campus employment with recognized international organizations by F1 students. International students may also find Page 23 of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 - Visas useful.

Related: Off Campus Rules for U.S.A bound international students

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