California State University, Sacramento

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International Student & Scholar Services International Programs & Global Engagement

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F-1 Employment

Students on an F-1 Visa may be eligible for a variety of different employment authorizations in the United States. Students should thoroughly learn the policies and procedures regarding employment authorization prior to seeking employment opportunities.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 or J-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.

Definition of On-Campus Employment:

  • The work must take place either at Sac State or at an educationally affiliated off-campus location. Work that takes place at Sac State could be for an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students.
  • Employment located on-campus that does not directly involve services to students (such as construction work) does not qualify as on-campus employment.
  • Work with an employer that is contractually affiliated with the school is on-campus employment even if the work site is not located on the campus (such as a research lab affiliated with your school).
  • Jobs that do not displace a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR)


  • You may not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • You may be employed more than 20 hours per week during holidays, academic breaks, or vacation periods.
  • You must maintain a full-time course load and maintain good academic standing (2.0 GPA for undergraduates and 3.0 GPA for graduates)
  • You must receive ISSS work clearance prior starting your opportunity, and before the beginning of every semester.
  • You may not engage in on-campus employment after the program end date on your I-20, if your SEVIS record has been terminated, if you have been approved for a Reduced Course Load due to academic difficulty or medication condition, or if you have transferred your SEVIS record to another school.
  • You may not be employed in a work study position.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a type of off-campus work authorization which permits eligible F-1 international students to engage in paid or unpaid work experience which "is an integral part of the established curriculum" and "directly related to the student's major area of study." Employment includes alternate work/study internships, cooperative education, or other types of required internships or practicums. CPT may be part-time (up to 20 hours/week) or full-time (over 20 hours/week), depending on the requirements of the internship or co-op. Students who participate more than twelve months of full-time CPT are ineligible to participate in OPT.

CPT Application Guide

Due to COVID-19, all CPT requests will also require a written certification from the employer that students will be able to perform their duties in accordance with all county, state and federal health directives. This includes, but is not limited to, telecommuting and adequate social distancing. This certification must be submitted to IPGE along with the other necessary internship approval documentation.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Through OPT, F-1 students can gain hands-on work experience related to their academic field of study. OPT can be done during your studies (Pre-Completion OPT), after completion of your studies (Post-Completion OPT) or a combination of both.


An F-1 student is eligible to apply for OPT if he or she meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Must have been in valid F-1 status for one academic year (2 semesters)
  2. Must be in good academic standing (GPA minimum undergraduate 2.0; graduate 3.0)
  3. Must be pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree
  4. Has not had 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training in the current degree program

Pre-Completion OPT

Although most students seeking off-campus practical training during their studies apply for Curricular Practical Training, under rare circumstances F-1 visa students may undergo periods of OPT prior to graduation. Optional practical training is limited to a total of 12 months. Part-time (20 hours or less) Pre-Completion OPT before graduation is deducted from the available 12 months of total OPT at the full-time rate. Please see your ISSS advisor for additional information.

12 Month Post Completion OPT

Off-campus work permit for F1 students interested in working in the United States after graduation. Employment must be related to the student's major field of study.

12 Month OPT Application and Instructions

12 Month OPT Update Form

12 Month OPT Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements

24 Month STEM OPT Extension

Some students may be eligible for a 24 month STEM OPT extension after their 12 month period of Post Completion OPT. Please read the links below for eligibility, application, and reporting information

24 Month STEM OPT Extension Application

24 Month STEM OPT Extension Update Form