General Employment Information for F-1 Visa Students

The F-1 visa is a student visa.  There is no general employment benefit under the F-1 visa. The employment of F-1 visa students is highly regulated and falls into the following categories:

On-Campus Employment

Students on F-1 visas are currently permitted to work on-campus without special authorization.  A social security number is required and students must work with the DSO to apply for one when they first obtain employment.  After that, students may change on-campus jobs and continue to use the same social security number without contacting the DSO.

Timeframe: F-1 visa students may work for on-campus employers as early as 30 days prior to their program start date.  They may not continue employment for on-campus employers after their program end date unless they have approved post-completion OPT to do so.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 visa students may apply for Curricular Practical Training authorization in order to be able to accept employment during their degree program that is an "integral part of an established curriculum" and which is "directly related to the student's major area of study."  
Timeframe:  F-1 visa students may apply for Curricular Practical Training after they have completed 1 full year (2 full-time semesters) of study and have declared a major.

For more information and application materials please visit Curricular Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 visa students may apply for pre-completion or post-completion Optional Practical Training.  Optional Practical Training authorization permits an F-1 student to accept employment that is "directly related to the students major area of study." 
Timeframe: OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per education level.  Use of pre-completion OPT reduces the availability of post-completion OPT.

STEM OPT: An OPT extension of 24 months is currently available for certain STEM degrees.

For more information and application materials please visit Optional Practical Training.

Off-Campus Employment for Unforseen Severe Economic Hardship

The severe economic hardship employment authorization benefit is intended to address situations where a financial need beyond the student's control arises, which was unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he or she is currently attending and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.  Oberlin students with economic need have historically been able to obtain on-campus employment and therefore this type of employment authorization has not been used at Oberlin.

Timeframe: Students may apply after having been in F-1 status for one full academic year.  There is an application fee, authorization takes several months to obtain and must be re-applied for every year.