Employment Opportunities for International Students
Working during your time at Cedarville and in the U.S. is a great way to gain experience and grow lifelong skills. Learn about the unique opportunities you have as an international student and see how you can get plugged into a job that's right for you!
Types of Employment
International Students – Employment for international students is limited by SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) to on-campus positions. In cases of severe economic hardship, you may present a request for off-campus employment to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Visit the ISS office for help with this application.
MK and TCK Students – If you're a U.S. citizen, you may choose to find employment on campus or in local businesses.
Working on campus is a great opportunity for you to form connections, gain valuable experience, and help offset the cost of your studies.
Keep in mind that SEVIS requires F-1 visa students to work fewer than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. We recommend that you work no more than 12 hours per week, as this will help you manage your workload. During official school breaks, you may work up to 40 hours per week.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
What is CPT?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows you to apply the knowledge you've learned in your program to a practical work experience. CPT employment must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study, like, for example, a required internship. Curricular practical training is typically a summer work experience.
SEVIS regulations state that an F-1 student must be on their initial I-20 for a full academic year before they are eligible to participate in CPT.
How Many Hours Can I Work?
If you are authorized for part-time CPT, you can work up to 20 hours per week, and you'll need to be registered for full-time courses when you complete your work experience in order to maintain your F-1 status. Cedarville recommends choosing a part-time CPT commitment.
You can engage in full-time CPT with authorization during school breaks. You'll be able to work more than 20 hours per week, and you do not need to be registered for full-time courses during your work experience.
How Do I Apply for CPT?
- Complete Cedarville's CPT application form.
- Cedarville's Designated School Official (DSO), along with your advisor, will review your application and grant approval. They will determine if you are eligible for part-time or full-time curricular practical training and will create a new I-20 to reflect this.
- Once you receive authorization from International Student Services, you may begin curricular practical training. Make sure you only work for the authorized dates, unless you request and are granted an extension.
Internships with International Organizations
If you are offered an internship by an international organization, you do not require work authorization because you will be outside of the United States.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) gives you the opportunity to gain real employment experience in your field of study. After you complete your degree, you can apply to receive up to 12 months of post-completion OPT employment authorization.
You can apply for 12 months of OPT after the completion of each education level (bachelor's, master's, doctorate). If your degree is in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, is recognized by SEVIS as a STEM degree, and your employer uses the E-Verify program, you may be eligible for a STEM OPT extension, giving you an additional 24 months of OPT.
How Do I Apply for OPT?
- Request that your DSO recommend OPT. Your DSO will do this by endorsing your I-20 and entering the recommendation into SEVIS.
- Complete Form I-765 online. This will include paying a filing fee with a credit card and uploading the following required documents (which must be submitted as .JPG or .PDF files, except for the passport photo, which must be a .JPG or .PNG file):
- Government-issued photo ID
- I-94 showing F-1 status
- Current I-20
- New I-20 showing OPT recommendation
- 2x2 passport photo
- After USCIS approves your OPT application, they will mail you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card as legal proof that you can begin your Optional Practical Training. Keep in mind that once you've applied for OPT, the start date cannot be adjusted. If you are not yet employed after the start date passes, any time counts against the allowable 12 months, even if you don't work. Every OPT participant receives 90 days of unemployment to allow for flexibility in the job search timeline.
When Do I Apply for OPT?
No matter what type of OPT you're applying for, you'll need to do so after Cedarville's Designated School Official (DSO) has entered the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record.
- Post-Completion OPT – After the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, you will have 30 days to apply. You can apply up to 90 days before, but no later than 60 days after, your program end date.
- STEM OPT Extension – After the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, you will have 60 days to apply. You may apply up to 90 days before your current OPT authorization expires.
You don't need a job offer to apply for OPT, but once your EAD start date has passed, any time spent looking for jobs will count as part of your 12 month total. On the other hand, you may begin looking for employment before receiving OPT authorization, but you can't begin working until you receive your EAD card.
Address Reporting – If your address or phone number changes, you must report the change within 10 days to International Student Services. Even though you aren't formally registered for classes during OPT, Cedarville is still responsible for monitoring your F-1 status.
Traveling Outside the U.S. – Once you have your EAD card and a job offer letter, you may travel outside the U.S. and re-enter as an F-1 student on OPT. Use your valid visa, EAD card, job offer letter, and endorsed I-20 with a travel signature no older than six months for re-entry. If you leave the U.S. after graduating and before applying for OPT, you give up all rights to OPT.
If you're planning to work in the U.S., you will need a Social Security Number (SSN) to work and receive payment. Learn more from the Social Security Administration about international students and social security numbers.
How Do I Apply for a SSN?
- Find a job on campus and get a job offer letter on official letterhead.
- Contact the ISS office to get your SSN application and arrange a time to go to the local Social Security office to provide required documentation.
- When you go to the Social Security office, bring the following documents with you:
- Completed application
- A letter from ISS verifying your enrollment at Cedarville University
- A letter from your employer on official letterhead, describing:
- Your position title and job description
- Your start date
- Your anticipated hours per week
- Your supervisor's name, contact information, and signature
- After your application is approved, you'll receive your Social Security card by mail within 14 days.
If you work and receive payment, you must file income taxes each year with the Internal Revenue Service. Taxes are filed for income earned the previous year. You'll need to pay federal, state, and local taxes, but check with International Student Services to see if your country has a tax treaty, which would let you exclude some of your income from federal taxation.
Keep in mind that F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for less than five years typically don't have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Make sure to bring this to the attention of your employer, as many employers aren't familiar with this law. Talk to International Student Services for more information about the tax exemption.
What is a Form W-2?
Form W-2 is a wage and tax statement created by your employer showing the income taxes, Social Security taxes, and/or Medicare taxes that were withheld from your paycheck throughout the year. You'll receive a new W-2 each year, and you'll need access to the form when preparing your taxes. If you're employed on campus and earn at least $600 in the course of a year, you'll receive a W-2 from Cedarville's Payroll office.
How Do I File My Taxes?
International Students – You can access tax prep software like Sprintax to help you prepare and file your tax forms. Reach out to International Student Services to purchase an access code.
MK and TCK Students – If you're a U.S. citizen, you can access tax prep software like TurboTax to help you prepare and file your tax forms.