International Programs and Services

F-1 Status Work Options

Employment is work performed in exchange for compensation. Compensation can include money, room and board, or other benefits. Volunteer work is unpaid. You are eligible to volunteer for non-profit charitable organizations. But you still need to check with IPS before you do.

Before accepting any kind of paid or volunteer position, contact International Programs and Services to be sure it is allowed.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students may work on campus up to 20 hours per week, including assistantships, during fall or spring semester. They can work full time up to 40 hours per week during Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and summer.

What is Required?

  • Be a registered full-time student
  • Have been in the US for at least 10 days
  • Turn in an Employment Verification Form or assistantship letter
  • IPS authorization letter

Steps to On-Campus Employment

  1. Find a job on campus through Handshake
  2. Use your Employment Verification Form to fill out this request form. IPS will then write you an authorization letter for your Social Security application. Graduate students who have an assistantship can use the information from their offer letter in place of the Employment Verification Form.
  3. Complete this paperwork and return it to the department hiring you:
    1. USCIS Form I-9
    2. IRS Form 8233
    3. IRS Form W-4
    4. Michigan Form W-4
    5. Social Security Form SS-5
    6. MTU Patent, Research and Proprietary Rights Agreement
    7. MTU Payroll Direct Deposit Authorization if you decide you want your paycheck put in your account automatically)

These tips help you complete USCIS Form I-9, IRS Form W-4, and Michigan Form W-4 forms correctly.

  1. Apply for a Social Security Number. You need a SSN to be put on Tech's payroll.  Take the receipt that shows you applied to your hiring department, so you can start receiving your pay.
  2. Bring a copy of your SSN card to your hiring department as soon as you receive it.
  3. Your on-campus employment eligibility ends:
    • When you graduate
    • If you transfer to another university; your work authorization expires on the day of your SEVIS record release date
    • If you violate your F-1 status

You Need to Know

F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States.


F-1 students can apply for off-campus work through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Curricular Practical Training

CPT is authorized employment for a credit-bearing off-campus job, a cooperative education program directly related to a specific course.

Optional Practical Training

OPT is for students who have completed their degrees. It provides authorization for a temporary job that provides practical experience in the graduate's field of study. There are two kinds of OPT authorization:

  1. Post - Completion OPT, after you've completed course work requirements.
  2. 24 - month STEM Extension OPT, an extension of the post-completion OPT for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

You Need to Know

Students studying English in Intensive English Language training programs are not eligible for CPT or OPT.