International Student Employment
On-campus work-study is available to any F-1 student who has been granted work-study hours through the Naropa Financial Aid Office. You must apply to the Financial Aid Office and, if eligible, may receive an allotment of work/study hours to work during the fall and/or spring semesters. Permission from USCIS or the international student advisor is not required for any type of on-campus employment.
Employment Based on Economic Hardship
Work authorization is available to students who suffer severe financial hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
To be eligible you must have been in F-1 status for two full semesters in good academic standing, must demonstrate that the employment will not interfere with carrying a full course of study, and you must demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control.
To apply you must fill out Forms I-765 and I-538 and submit supporting documentation and an application fee. The international student advisor has these forms and will provide you with assistance and the required certification.
If your application is approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) valid for up to one year. You may reapply each year for this work authorization as long as you continue to be a full-time student.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is defined as 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." You can qualify for CPT as long as it is "an integral part of an established curriculum." In other words, CPT involves doing a paid internship or some other type of paid employment that is a required part of your course of study and/or for which you will receive credit. CPT can be either part-time or full-time employment. You do not need work authorization to do uncompensated volunteer work/internships.
To be eligible for CPT you must have completed two semesters in F-1 status. Graduate students can begin CPT sooner if their programs require them to do so.
Obtain a letter from your academic advisor or department head stating that the internship/job you will be doing for CPT is "required" and/or "an integral part of your educational program." If you will be earning credit for it, the letter should state that as well. The letter should include a brief description of the work you will be doing, the duration of the training (specific dates), and the name and address of the employer. Bring this letter to the international student advisor. The Advisor will enter your CPT authorization into SEVIS and issue a new I-20 showing the dates and location of the authorized employment. Do not begin CPT until you have been authorized to do so by the international student advisor.
A new application for permission to engage in CPT is required if you extend the CPT or change employers. If you receive twelve months or more of full-time CPT, you become ineligible for Optional Practical Training.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
You may also apply for authorization to accept employment for optional practical training directly related to your major area of study. The difference between this and CPT is that this employment is neither a required nor an integral part of your course of study. F-1 students (unless they have completed 12 months of full-time CPT) who have completed two semesters of full-time study are eligible for 12 months of OPT. The 12 months can be used at various times during the student's stay, including during vacation periods, part-time while school is in session, or after the completion of the course of studies. All OPT must be completed within a fourteen-month period following completion of studies. USCIS permission is required for OPT.
The international student advisor will provide you with information and Form I-765; will enter your OPT request into SEVIS and issue a new I-20 for your OPT application, and will assist you in completing the forms and assembling the documents you will need to send to USCIS. An application for OPT after completion of studies may be submitted to USCIS up to 120 days before graduation, but no later than graduation. You may not apply for OPT after the date you complete your studies. A job offer is not required to apply. USCIS processing of an OPT application usually takes from six weeks to three months. A separate application with fee is required each time the student wishes to use some part of the twelve-month period.