March 7, 2009

Off campus job rules for U.S.A bound students

As already noted previously in on-campus job rules for U.S.A bound international students, most students (including those from Nigeria and Africa) would be offered an F1 visa, which is the US non-immigrant student visa.

In that same article, it was clearly noted that the F1 visa is given to the single, academic student attending an educational institution on a full time basis, as distinct from a vocational student or an academic student wishing to travel with spouse and minor children (see on-campus job rules for U.S.A bound international students).

In the U.S.A and in line with the requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), there exist four general categories of off-campus employment opportunities for international students with the F1 visa.

As a general rule, these four categories of off-campus employment options which are available to international students providing they maintain lawful student status and are doing well academically, are regulated more strictly and require prior authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

These employment options are and include:
  • Severe Economic Hardship
    Any international student with a valid F1 visa suffering "severe economic hardship" as defined by USCIS is eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and also full-time during breaks.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    International students in the USA with valid F1 immigration visa status are permitted to work off-campus in OPT status both during and after the completion of their degree according to rules established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Employment must be “directly related” to the student’s major; and permission is required from both the student school's International Student Office and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    This is an off-campus employment option for valid F1 international students when the practical training is an integral part of the established curriculum or academic program. CPT employment is defined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.”
  • Recognized International Institution
    This is an off-campus employment option for international students with valid F1 immigration status , where they gain employment with a “recognized international organization.” 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 listed organizations are eligible.

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