International Programs and Global Engagement


Social Security Numbers
In order to accept employment in the US, it will be necessary for you to obtain a social security card. International students are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number only after they have been offered employment. Please refer to the Social Security section in the "When you first arrive" chapter for more information.


In order to gain admittance to the US, F-1 visa students are required to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to pay for their studies and financially support any dependents. Careful screening of financial support on the part of the US consul or officer is necessary given the number of US laws and regulations designed to prevent visiting foreign nationals from seeking most types of employment. The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student is not permitted to engage employment or accept any form of compensation. The following sections describe the employment options that are available to F-1 students.

On-campus employment
F-1 visa students may seek on campus employment part-time, up to 20 hours / week, during the academic year. Students may be employed full-time on campus during vacation periods when school is not in session. It is important to note that such employment should not interfere with academic pursuits. Students will be required to pursue a full course of study and to maintain good academic standing.

Employment based on economic hardship
F-1 visa students encountering financial difficulties due to unforeseen circumstances may be eligible to apply for a part-time, off-campus work permit. Students must be able to clearly demonstrate a financial hardship exists and arose as a result of unforeseen circumstances. In addition, applicants for this work permit must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year, be in good academic standing, and be able to demonstrate that the employment will not negatively impact their academic performance. Applications for economic hardship are submitted to the USCIS and processing takes an average of 3 months. Should you meet these conditions and wish to pursue an application for this work permit, contact your IPGE advisor for more information.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
During their studies, F-1 visa international students enrolled in an internship, practicum, or cooperative education program at Sacramento State (and receiving academic credit for the experience) may be permitted to accept off-campus employment.

In order to be eligible to apply for a curricular practical training permit, a Sacramento State F-1 visa student must have been in status as a full-time F-1 visa student for a minimum of one academic year and must be receiving academic credit for a university supervised internship, practicum or cooperative education program.
Curricular practical training may be part-time (up to 20 hours /week) or full-time, depending on the requirements of the internship or coop. Students who participate more than twelve months of full-time curricular practical training, however, will not be able to participate in optional practical training.

Application procedures for Curricular Practical Training are as follows:

  1. Locate a suitable internship position.
  2. Receive departmental approval for the internship.
  3. Register for an internship, practicum, or coop through your school/major department or the co-op program at the Career Center. You will be issued a written contract when you finalize these arrangements.
  4. Bring a copy of your internship, practicum, or coop contract to your international student advisor at the IPGE.

The international student advisor will review your application package, verify departmental approval, and issue a new SEVIS I-20 for curricular practical training so that you may begin your training experience.

Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training
Although most students seeking opportunities off campus during their studies apply for Curricular Practical Training (see above), F-1 visa students may undergo periods of optional practical training prior to graduation. Optional practical training is limited to a total of 12 months. Part-time (20 hours or less) pre-completion optional practical training before graduation is deducted from the available 12 months at the full-time rate. Time used for Pre-Completion OPT counts against your period of Post Completion OPT, thereby reducing your one year of Post completion OPT. Students must have maintained F-1 status for one academic year before being allowed to apply. Please see your IPGE advisor for additional information

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
Upon completion of all requirements for a degree program, F-1 visa students may be eligible to apply for 12 months of practical training. This training must represent a logical extension of a student's program of study (related to the field of study and at an appropriate level of education). Students may apply for OPT after completion of each degree program as long as the program is at a higher level (Bachelors to Masters to PhD).

In order to be eligible for post-completion practical training, a student must have maintained F-1 visa status for at least one academic year. You can apply for post-completion practical training beginning 90 days prior through 60 days after program completion. If you fail to apply during this period, your application will be rejected.

Your advisor at the IPGE will prepare a new SEVIS I-20 for OPT, sign and copy all appropriate forms, make the necessary USCIS recommendations, and return a packet for you to mail directly to USCIS. Within a few weeks, USCIS staff will notify you by mail that they have received your application. On average your application should be processed within 90 days of receipt.

You may not begin your employment until you have received your EAD from the USCIS California Service Center. USCIS regulations state that students engaged in OPT continue to be F-1 students affiliated with their academic campus.As such, students on OPT are required to continue to inform Sacramento State of any address and employment changes.

Employment Requirements while on OPT: On April 8, 2008 new regulations were announced by immigration for Post Completion OPT. The new OPT regulations state that maintenance of F-1 OPT status is dependent on employment. During the 12 months of initial OPT you may not be unemployed for more than a total of 90 days without jeopardizing your status. Along with any changes of personal address, students are now required to notify the IPGE of all employment information within 10 days of hiring or termination. At time of printing, these regulations remain part of an "Interim Final Rule", and are subject to change.

Optional Practical Training - 17 Month STEM Extension: On April 8, 2008 new regulations were announced to allow F-1 international students on Post Completion OPT who have graduated with a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree to apply for a 17 month extension of their OPT if they meet certain criteria. The extension allows a maximum of 29 total months of Optional Practical Training and may be usedonly once regardless of how many degrees are completed. Eligibility requirements include:

  1. Applicants must be currently approved for Post Completion OPT based on a degree in one of the STEM fields of study (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math related fields) Approved majors currently include: Computer Science, Engineering (Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Software), Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, Geology, Physics, Mathematics and Statistics.
  2. Applicants must have graduated. Proof of degree completion is required with their application.
    Note: Graduate students with Thesis / Master's project still pending are not eligible for the extension.
  3. Applicants must be currently employed in a paid position working full-time for a US employer. The job must be directly related to their STEM degree.
  4. Employers must be registered in the E-Verify program. During the 17 month STEM extension period, students may change employers, however all employers must be part of the E-Verify program.
  5. During their initial 12 months of OPT, applicants must not have been unemployed for more than 90 total days. In addition, during the STEM extension period students are allotted an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total maximum of 120 days of unemployment over the entire OPT + STEM OPT 29 month period.
  6. Applicants and employers must both agree to certain address and employment information reporting responsibilities.

At time of printing, these regulations remain part of an "Interim Final Rule" and are subject to change. For application information and current procedures, please visit the IPGE.


On-Campus Employment
J-1 Exchange Visitor students may engage in part-time on-campus employment (full-time when school is not in session) if they have obtained approval from their program sponsor (a clearance must be issued by the IPGE) Approval of such requests can be granted only if the exchange visitor is in good academic standing and enrolled full-time.

Off-Campus Employment
Full-time J-1 Exchange Visitor students in good academic standing may engage in part-time (full-time when school is not in session) off-campus employment if they encounter financial difficulties due to unforeseen circumstances. In order to apply for permission to work off-campus it will be necessary that you meet with your IPGE advisor, and provide detailed information concerning the nature of your unforeseen financial difficulties. Employment permits will be issued when conditions warrant approval.

Academic Training
J-1 Exchange Visitor students may engage in academic training during their studies without wages or other remuneration, or for wages with the approval of their international student advisor. Paid academic training can be authorized for a maximum of 18 months during or after their academic studies. Academic training after completion of studies must begin no later than thirty (30) days after completion of studies and cannot be approved for a period of time longer than the student's academic program. Paid academic training can only be undertaken by students whose primary reason for being in the US is to study, not to engage in academic training. In order to begin paid academic training, J-1 students must:

  1. Be in good academic standing.
  2. Plan to engage in academic training that is clearly related to their major field of study.
  3. Receive written permission from their International Student Advisor.

Employment of J-2 Spouse of J-1 Exchange Visitor
The J-2 spouse of a J-1 exchange visitor may, under certain conditions, obtain permission from the USCIS to accept employment. Permission to accept employment will only be granted if the J-2 spouse can demonstrate that the financial resources of the J-1 are inadequate to cover the essential costs of the J-2 dependents. The money earned by the J-2 spouse cannot be intended for the purpose of assisting the J-1 in meeting his/her costs.

J-1's or their J-2 dependents interested in one of the off-campus employment opportunities described above should meet with their IPGE advisor to obtain exact application procedures.

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