Employment Information Quick Links
F-1 students are permitted to work part-time on campus (up to 20 hours per week while classes
are in session, full time during school breaks and vacations). J-1 students have the same
opportunity, but must additionally obtain a work authorization letter from ISSS (or
their outside sponsor, such as Fulbright). Graduate students with assistantships must seek approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies via their department to be eligible for additional employment, whether on or off campus.
Note: Students in some visa categories, such as H-4 in most circumstances, are prohibited from
working in the U.S. at any job. It is the responsibility of the employer (Human Resources, Research Foundation, Chartwells, etc.) to verify a student’s eligibility for employment.
Social Security Numbers
F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number up to 30 days before they start employment. An SSN number is required for I-9 purposes. Faculty or staff hiring a student must write the student an official offer letter which the student should take to ISSS to obtain a secondary letter. A sample offer letter for SSN purposes is available here.
Please note: For new students, there will be a waiting period of up to 15 days before the Social Security Administration will be able to verify the student's immigration and visa documentation.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)*
Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, is a form of off-campus work authorization for F-1 students. F-1 students engaging in an off-campus internship or employment, whether paid or unpaid, must obtain authorization prior to beginning that employment from ISSS.
CPT employment must be an integral part of the student's program of study for a student to be eligibility. Please review the instructions on the request packet for further detail. The academic advisor is responsible for verifying that the employment/internship is being used toward the completion of the student's academic program requirements.
CPT will only be authorized one semester at a time. If the employment is to continue, students must reapply each semester and include verification from the academic department that the employment is still integral to the student’s program. Regulations require students to have been registered at least two full-time semester prior to becoming eligible for CPT. For purposes of CPT more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time employment. Restrictions on full-time employment are explained in detail in the CPT application packet
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a form of off-campus work authorization for F-1 students. This authorization must be approved by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) who issues the student an EAD card proving work authorization. Before a student can apply through USCIS, he or she must obtain a new I-20 requesting OPT from ISSS. USCIS takes on average 90 days to process and approve an OPT request.
In most cases a student will choose to do OPT post-completion (after completion of all degree requirements). Academic advisors are therefore responsible for certifying that the student has completed all program requirements and is expected to graduate. Unlike CPT, students are not required to have a job offer in place while applying for OPT authorization.
OPT employment must be directly related to a student's field of study. ISSS does not determine an employment situation's relevance to an academic program. We recommend that the student consult and Career Center and/or the academic department to determine if the position is within the student's field of study.
Academic training is a form of off-campus work authorization for J-1 students. J-1 students engaging in an off-campus internship or employment, whether paid or unpaid, must obtain authorization prior to beginning that employment from ISSS or from their program sponsor (which may be an outside sponsor, such as Fulbright).
The academic advisor is responsible for verifying how the internship/employment opportunity pertains to the student's academic program. Student's must have an offer letter prior to obtaining academic advisor approval and approval from ISSS.
J-1 students may choose to use their Academic Training authorization either while they are a registered student, or after they have completed their program. The training may be for up to 18 months (cumulative) or a period equal to the full course of study (cumulative), whichever is less. Up to 36 months of Academic Training can be granted at the doctoral level, inclusive of all prior Academic Training done at that or lower levels of study. Employment must begin no later than 30 days after the student’s program end date and must be authorized by the ISSS.
*Note on MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding):
If a student is engaged in an eligible position (such as a student assistant position) under an MOU with a University at Albany department the employment may be considered to be on-campus employment. Please refer back to the department with the MOU agreement.
The information contained in this web site/form is provided as a service to international students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany. It does not constitute legal advice. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site or form. Neither the University at Albany nor ISSS is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel; students may wish to consult an immigration attorney on the specifics of their case as needed.