UMD: A Globally Connected University

F-1 Employment

In order to maintain valid F-1 status, a student must not work in the United States unless the employment is specifically authorized under the regulations.  This includes paid and unpaid opportunities.

Please browse the different types of employment authorization available to F-1 students and follow the links to read more information on each. 

On-Campus Employment  |   Curricular Practical Training (CPT)   |   Optional Practical Training (OPT)  |  OPT STEM Extension 
OPT Cap Gap Extension  |   Employment with an International Organization  |   Employment Based on Economic Necessity  |  Unpaid Work


On-Campus Employment
(Research, teaching, and graduate assistantships, and hourly work)

On-campus employment includes: employment located on the University of Maryland, College Park campus, and employment at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
(Internships, co-op programs, and work experience for credit)

As stated in the USCIS regulations, F-1 students wishing to participate in an off-campus training program that is "an integral part of an established curriculum" must first obtain authorization for CPT. The training, which must be directly related to the student's major field of study, is defined as "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" (federal regulation 8CFR214.2(f)(10)). This cooperative agreement is formalized through an Internship/Co-op/Practicum/Experiential Learning course in which the student enrolls.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT)
(Employment in field of study)

USCIS permits students in F-1 status to work in the United States so that they may reinforce what they have learned in university and college degree programs. This benefit is called Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Students must attend an OPT workshop before applying. Sign up for an OPT Workshop.

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OPT STEM Extension
Some students may be eligible for a 24-month extension if they earned a qualifying degree.

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OPT Cap Gap Extension
Some students who are the recipients of an H-1B petition may be eligible for a cap gap extension.

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Employment with an International Organization
F-1 students who have been offered employment with an International Organization such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, or the United Nations, may apply for special employment permission from USCIS. Students may work part-time (20 hours per week) while school is in session and full-time during vacation periods, provided they will continue their studies in the following semester. Work permission with an International Organization does not reduce the amount of curricular or optional practical training one can use. *Note: Students cannot participate during the school year if they already have an assistantship or other on-campus employment equaling 20 hours per week.

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Employment Based on Economic Necessity
F-1 students who have encountered severe economic hardship may apply to USCIS for off-campus work authorization. A student seeking authorization of this type must be able to prove that the current financial situation was the result of unforeseen circumstances that were beyond his/her control. Prior to applying to USCIS, the student must have made a good faith effort to find on-campus employment.

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Unpaid Work
Although a position may be unpaid, it does not necessarily mean the work is allowed.  Please read this section for more information about unpaid work.

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