Besides the issues mentioned above, there are also legal issues facing international students job searching in the USA.
Most international students come to the United States on an F1 – student visa. This visa allows students to work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session. Students may work more than 20 hours during winter and summer breaks.
If international students want to work on campus, they usually don’t need any employment authorization and they can choose to do any job they would like and can find. The main requirements to work on campus are:
- being a full-time student (it usually means taking at least nine credits for graduate students and twelve credits for undergraduate students per semester);
- having a valid passport and I-94 card;
- having a valid SEVIS I-20 form (from the university the student is attending).
If international students want to work off campus, they will need employment authorization such as OPT (Optional Practical Training) or CPT (Curricular Professional Training)
Students do not need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT, but they have to be full-time students have to have a valid F1 visa, valid passport and intentions to work only in the field of their study. OPT may be authorized for up to one year and must end at least 14 months before the student graduates.
CPT or Curricular Professional Training, as defined by U.S. Department of Homeland Security is an “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum, which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." In other words, CPT must not only be related to the field of your study, but must be an important part of your studies.
All these requirements can make anyone’s head spin, but there is no need to panic if something seems unclear. Visit your academic councilor or international students office in your college and they would be happy to help you with any questions and issues.