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F-1 Employment Options

As an international student at NOVA, you are permitted to take part in internships, volunteer with a community service organization and engage in professional development opportunities. NOVA offers career services to provide students with information about internships and other employment opportunities.

F-1 students must obtain written authorization before beginning ANY compensated employment. United States law requires you to obtain authorization before starting any type of compensated employment. Beginning work without authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or one of NOVA’s international student services staff is a serious violation of your F-1 status.

What is the definition of compensated employment?

USCIS defines compensated employment as work performed in exchange for a benefit. USCIS would consider employment authorization necessary if you receive a salary, hourly wage, fees, books, supplies, transportation or any other benefit in exchange for work performed.


F-1 Student Employment Information

  • On-Campus Employment [PDF]
    F-1 students are eligible to work in on campus positions up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full time during vacation periods.
  • Types of Off-Campus Employment [PDF]
    Basic information on all types of employment available to F-1 students.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) [PDF]
    Training for which the student will receive academic credit that will count towards a degree. 
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) [PDF]
    Full or part time training related to the student’s major, either pre- or post-completion of the associate’s degree.
  • Severe Economic Hardship [PDF]
    Available to students who demonstrate severe economic hardship as a result of events which could not be expected.
  • International Organizations [PDF]
    Internship or temporary employment with an international organization (e.g. World Bank, IMF, OAS).
  • I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
    Use this form to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).  Students should complete this form along with any application for OPT, Severe Economic Hardship or working with an International Organization.
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