Employment that is available for eligible F-1 students in Tseng College programs is:

  • Off-Campus: OPT and CPT
  • On-Campus

Standard Optional Practical Training (OPT) is off-campus employment that must be authorized in SEVIS before beginning work. Both paid and unpaid employment must be authorized prior to beginning a job.

OPT and CPT MUST directly relate to a student’s major area of study.

OPT has two types: Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT.

Students must complete one full academic year in F-1 status before being eligible for OPT and CPT.

On-Campus employment is not recorded in, or authorized by, SEVIS. On-campus work does not need to relate to a student’s major.

Students in the SAC (Semester at CSUN) program are eligible for on-campus employment.

Students in language programs, such as the Intensive English Program (IEP) are NOT eligible for any type of employment.

Any unauthorized employment is a SEVIS violation.

 

What is OPT?

  • OPT is temporary employment that allows students to get practical training in their field of study.
  • A total of 12 months of standard OPT is available for each level of study.
    • Level of study: Students are eligible for 12 months of Post-Completion OPT after completing an Associate degree, after completing a Bachelor’s degree, after completing a Master’s degree and again after a Ph.D. program.
    • GCBA students: You can use Post-Completion OPT after completing the GCBA certificate but that makes you ineligible for OPT after completing the MBA because both are the same level of study. GCBA and MBA are graduate-level study, which is also called post-baccalaureate.
  • OPT can be authorized with or without an offer of employment.
  • Employment can be for multiple employers.
  • The application process takes an average of 8 - 12 weeks for USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, to complete.
  • Traveling out of the U.S. before receiving EAD card for Post-Completion OPT is not recommended. USCIS sends EAD cards to U.S. addresses only. If students do not have their EAD card, in their possession, when re-entering the U.S., they can show Customs their I-797 Notice of Action, but it is better to have the EAD to prevent complications.
  • While on OPT, F-1 students must promptly report any and all employment, new employment, or changes in employment to a DSO in Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC). See specifics below.
  • OPT employment can be paid or unpaid. Unpaid employment may be called volunteer work or an internship. Regardless, you must be authorized for employment before beginning any work
    • When employment is unpaid, you must be able to show proof of employment.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to keep records of all employment, especially if working in non-traditional employment such as unpaid jobs, musicians working multiple ‘gigs,’ being self-employed, etc.
  • Regardless of job type, keep documentation of each job, name of position held, proof of the duration of each position, contact information for supervisor or manager, and a description of the work in case it is ever necessary to explain how the work related to the degree earned or exactly how many days of employment, or unemployment, occurred during the 12 months of OPT.
  • While on OPT, students still must report any changes of their own name and contact information, especially any change of U.S. addresses to a DSO in ARC.
  • Students MUST maintain international student health/medical insurance.
  • When students transfer in SEVIS to another school while on OPT, OPT permanently ends on the release date.

OPT Information REQUIRED in SEVIS

  • Employer (Company) Name
  • Employer’s Address
  • Supervisor’s First and Last Name
  • Supervisor’s Email and Phone
  • Your Job Title
  • Start Date (with this employer)
  • A brief explanation of how this job relates to your major (A maximum of 1,000 characters)

After you apply for OPT, you receive an email from SEVIS with directions on how to set up and update your own employment data in your SEVIS record. Using the SEVIS portal allows you to access your own OPT information but not any other part of your SEVIS record.

Your DSO still has access to your employment data in SEVIS. You can always ask your DSO to update your employment information in SEVIS.

Students on Post-Completion OPT: Failure to report employer information results in accumulating days of unemployment in SEVIS. 90 days or more of unemployment results in termination of your I-20.

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Post-Completion OPT is employment authorization to work after students complete their program of study.

“Completing a program” means that you must have completed each and every requirement to receive a degree or certificate.

The date that you complete your program for a degree or certificate is based on what requirements your program has. The date you consider that you completed your program for a degree or certificate is one of the following, depending on your particular circumstance.

  • If passing a Comprehensive Exam (the “comps”) is required to earn your degree, then the (last) day you take the comps counts as the date of your last requirement. (Of course, if you do not pass the Comps, do not apply for OPT, or cancel your OPT application if you have already applied.)
  • If a thesis or a project is required, then the day you complete that requirement is the day you complete your program.
  • If your last semester of regular classes completes the program, then the day you complete the program is the last day of your last class.

The graduation ceremony does not count as a requirement.

Application Process for Post-Completion OPT

There are specific times you can APPLY for OPT, and there are specific times you WORK while on OPT. These are different time periods with different deadlines.

 

Regarding the Timing of APPLYING for OPT

You can SUBMIT an APPLICATION for OPT:

  • Up to 90 days prior to completing your degree program OR
  • Up to 60 days after completing your degree program

USCIS must receive the OPT application packet: Within 30 days after the OPT recommendation was entered into SEVIS. See page 2 of your printed Form I-20 for the date it was entered.

 

Your OPT START DATE

When you apply for OPT, you request a start date for employment. You can request to start working on any day within the 60 days following completion of your program requirements.

If you apply late, and if OPT is approved after the 60-day grace period, the EAD card will have a later start date. In those cases, the total OPT time is less than 12 months.

 

Steps for applying for Post-Completion OPT

Interested in OPT? Information about Post-Completion OPT

  1. The first step in applying for OPT is determining your START DATE. Request to start employment any day within the 60 days following completion of your program requirements.
    • Students who already have a job lined up usually want their start date to be right after finishing their last requirement. You can ask for OPT to start as early as the day after you complete your program.
    • Conversely, students who will be looking for a job usually want their start date to be late into the 60-day grace period. You can ask for OPT to start up to day 59 of the 60-day grace period.
    • Request OPT by submitting the Request OPT - POST Completion OPT form to ARC in EU 200.
    • If eligible for OPT, a DSO in ARC recommends OPT in SEVIS and then your I-20, showing OPT information on page 2, is reprinted. The DSO and you sign page 1 of the I-20. This is the I-20 that is sent to USCIS as part of the application packet (see #3 below).
  2. Complete a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Form I-765 is the application for Post-Completion OPT. Make sure you use the most current edition of Form I-765.
    • You can fill it out online, print it, and then sign it or you can print a blank form and fill it out by hand. Make sure you use black ink if you fill it in by hand.
    • Be careful when signing the form. Keep your signature completely within the box! Use black ink.
    • Where appropriate: If something does not apply to you, write ‘none,’ or “n/a” for “not applicable.” Do not leave it blank. This is to avoid any confusion or questions at USCIS. However, some items clearly do not require ‘n/a’ or ‘none.’ Use your own discretion.
    • If you have never, ever, not once received a Social Security Number, answer
      NO - on Item 13.a., and
      YES - on Item 14 and 15
      Go to Items 16 and 17
    • If you have received a Social Security Number at any time, for any reason, answer
      YES - on Item 13.a. (even if you do not know the number), and
      Try very hard to fill in that number on 13.b., and
      NO - on Item 14
      Go to Item 18.
    • Item 27 - Use (c)(3)(B) for Post-Completion OPT
    • Part 6 Additional Information (page 7) – Use this page to report any previous SEVIS ID numbers or previous CPT or OPT. You will attach copies of evidence of any of these, so give a very brief description of each. Use one box for one description; use 3.d., 4.d., 5.d, etc. (skip 1, 2, 3.a., 3.b., and 3.c., etc.)
      If you had CPT or OPT before, provide the SEVIS ID and a little description.
      If you had a different SEVIS ID number on an I-20 before, explain (“I went to school in the U.S. in 2015, a language program in through Boston University, on SEVIS ID N0000987654, and returned on a new I-20 (SEVIS ID N0001234567) in 2017” for example.)
      If none of these applies to you, leave Page 7 (Part 6) blank.
    • Send in Original Form I-765. Make sure it is completely filled out and signed.
  3. Prepare the application packet for mailing. Assemble it in this order:
    • $410 Check or Money Order – payable to “Department of Homeland Security.” Spell it out; do not abbreviate. Write your name and SEVIS number in the Memo section of check or money order. You can check for the most current fee at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.
    • 2 Identical U.S. Passport-Style Photos – In pencil, lightly write your name and SEVIS # along the back edge of the photos.
    • Completed Form G-1145, Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
    • Original Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
    • Your recently issued I-20 that shows OPT dates on page 2. It is OK to send a copy of your I-20 and keep the original.
    • Copies from your Passport:
      • Identity pages (with your name, picture, expiration and/or renewal dates, etc.)
      • Visa, and
      • The most recent entry stamp in your passport, or a copy of your electronic I-94, available at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/
    • Copies of previous I-20s, especially if have had CPT or OPT authorization.
    • If applicable, a copy of any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Document) cards.
  4. Mail the OPT application. Make sure to use the type of service that tracks packages.

    If you use express mail or a courier service (UPS, FedEx, etc.), send to:

    USCIS
            Attn: AOS
            1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
            Phoenix, AZ 85034
            (800) 375-5283

    If using U.S. Postal Service (USPS), send to:

    USCIS
            P.O. Box 21281
            Phoenix, AZ 85036

See USCIS website for an optional tracking service of your EAD card though USCIS and the U.S. Postal Service.

How to Track Delivery of Your Green Card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and Travel Document

  1. Sign up for a Case Status Online account to get automatic case updates, including your U.S. Postal Service (USPS) tracking number when we mail your card or travel document.
  2. Register for Informed Delivery through USPS to get daily images of mail being sent to you. With Informed Delivery, you can:
    • Automatically track the packages you're expecting
    • Set up email and text alerts
    • Enter USPS Delivery Instructions™ for your mail carrier

If your USPS tracking information shows your package was delivered but you have not received it, contact your local post office immediately. Remember, we will mail your card or travel document to the address you provided on your application.

If your mailing address changes after you file your application, you must update your address with USCIS and USPS as soon as possible. If you don’t update your address promptly, your case could be delayed, your document(s) could get lost, and you may need to reapply and pay the fee again.

Complete information is at: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/how-track-delivery-your-green-card-employment-authorization-document-ead-and-travel-document

Receiving EAD and Beginning Employment

  • If OPT is authorized, USCIS sends an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) or Form I-766 to the student via regular mail, to the U.S. address that was on the application (Form I-765).
  • OPT is authorized for 12 months (or less if used pre-completion OPT or if USCIS received application late).
  • You cannot start work before you have received the EAD, AND you cannot start work before the start date on the EAD card.
  • A social security number is required for employment. Students can apply for a social security number at the same time they apply for OPT (on the Form I-765). The social security card should arrive about one week after receiving the EAD card.
  • If you do not apply for a social security card when applying for OPT, you can apply for one at a Social Security Administration Office but you cannot apply for one until you have received your EAD card, and not until the start date on the EAD card.
  • OPT employment can be anywhere in the U.S.
  • OK to travel while on OPT. I-20 requires DSO endorsement (signature) on page 2 for travel, as usual. However, while on OPT, the endorsement is good for 6 months (instead of the usual 12 months).

While on Post-Completion OPT

  • Must work more than 20 hours per week (21+ hours/week = “full time” in SEVIS).
  • Cannot be unemployed for 90 days or more while on OPT. Days of unemployment is counted as an aggregate of all days of unemployment. In other words, the days of unemployment can be 90 consecutive days or a total of 90 days spread out between jobs.
  • A SEVIS transfer to a new school immediately stops OPT.
  • All F-1 students must report any and all employment to a DSO in Admissions, Registration and Client Services (ARC) or self-report employment information via the SEVP Portal (commonly called the SEVIS Portal). See https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help for complete information about the SEVP Portal and here is a password tip sheet for it: ‘SEVP Portal Password Tips Sheet’ at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-password-tips-sheet.
  • Without that employment information entered into SEVIS, you will be considered unemployed. Recently, SEVIS added a new function that counts the number of days of unemployment for each student authorized for OPT. After 90 days, SEVIS automatically terminates the I-20.

When Post-Completion OPT Ends

  • At the end of OPT, you have a 60-day grace period to do one of these actions: Depart (Leave) the U.S.; begin a new program of study; or change status (get a work visa, a green card, etc.).
  • You can be transferred to a program or to a new school during your 60-day grace period. You must be ADMITTED to a new school, and you must be TRANSFERRED in SEVIS during the 60-day grace period. Then you can remain in status while waiting for the new school to begin. You can travel in and out of the U.S. during this time, but you must use the new school’s I-20 to reenter the U.S.
  • If you transfer in SEVIS any time before the 60-day grace period, OPT ends on the transfer-out day. In other words, if you transfer in SEVIS while you are on active OPT, OPT ends immediately.

PRE-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is possible for students who still have coursework remaining to complete their degree program. This is called Pre-Completion OPT.

Can apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days prior to requested start date.

Must maintain full-time enrollment while on OPT.

Can work 20 hours a week maximum, except during official breaks in school. Students can request authorization to work fulltime during breaks. Contact a DSO in ARC.

Pre-completion OPT is not subject to the unemployment restrictions. While on POST-Completion OPT, an accumulation of 90 days of unemployment, results in the I-20 being terminated. This restriction does not apply to PRE-Completion OPT.

The total amount of time allowed for OPT employment is 12 months, and pre-completion practical training reduces the amount of time a student is eligible for post-completion OPT. For every two months of pre-completion, post-completion is reduced by one month.

Example 1: Chenhua uses 6 months of Pre-Completion OPT before completing her degree. After she earns her degree, she can apply for 9 months of Post-Completion OPT - because 6 months of pre reduces post by 3 months.

Example 2: Abdulla uses 2 months of Pre-Completion OPT before completing his degree. After he earns his degree, he can apply for 11 months of Post-Completion OPT - because 2 months of pre reduces post by 1 month.

See the handout Interested in PRE-Completion OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

 

Application Process for Pre-Completion OPT

  1. Use form Request OPT-PRE Completion OPT. Submit the form to ARC.
    • If eligible for OPT, a DSO in ARC recommends OPT in SEVIS and then your I-20, showing OPT information on page 2, is reprinted. The DSO and you sign page 1 of the I-20.
    • This is the I-20 that is sent to USCIS as part of the application packet (see #3 below).
  2. Complete a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Make sure you use the most current edition of Form I-765.
    • You can fill it out online, then print and sign it, or you can print it and then fill it out by hand. Make sure you use black ink if you fill it in by hand.
    • Be careful when signing the form. Keep your signature completely within the box! Use black ink.
    • Where appropriate: If something does not apply to you, write ‘none,’ or “n/a” for “not applicable.” Do not leave it blank. This is to avoid any confusion or questions at USCIS. However, some items clearly do not require ‘n/a’ or ‘none.’ Use your own discretion.
    • If you have never, ever, not once received a Social Security Number, answer
      NO - on Item 13.a., and
      YES - on Item 14 and 15
      Go to Items 16 and 17
    • If you have received a Social Security Number at any time, for any reason, answer
      YES - on Item 13.a. (even if do not know the number), and
      Try very hard to fill in that number on 13.b., and
      NO - on Item 14
      Go to Item 18.
    • Item 27 – Use ( c ) ( 3 ) ( A ) for Pre-Completion OPT
    • Part 6 Additional Information (page 7) – Use this page to report any previous SEVIS ID numbers or previous CPT or OPT. If none of these applies to you, leave Page 7 (Part 6) blank
      • If you have had previous SEVIS IDs or previous CPT or OPT, you will attach copies of evidence of any of these, so give a very brief description of each. Use one box for one description; use 3.d., 4.d., 5.d, etc. Give you name in 1.a., 1.b., 1.c., leave 2., 3.a, 3.b, and 3.c. blank and use 3.d. Use 4.d. if necessary, and so on.
      • In your description, provide the SEVIS ID, dates, names of schools. For example, if you had a different SEVIS ID number on an I-20 before, “I went to a language program through Boston University, in 2015, on SEVIS ID N0000987654 went home. In 2017, I returned on a new I-20 (SEVIS ID N0001234567) to attend the program I just completed.”
    • Send in Original Form I-765. Make sure it is completely filled out and signed.
  3. Assemble the application package for mailing. Assemble it in this order:
    • $410 Check or Money Order – payable to "Department of Homeland Security". Spell it out; do not abbreviate. Write your name and SEVIS number in the Memo section of check or money order. You can check the fee at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.
    • 2 Identical U.S. Passport-Style Photos. In pencil, lightly write your name and SEVIS # along the back edge of the photos.
    • Completed Form G-1145, Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. This is NOT required; it is optional. The form asks USCIS to send you a message when they receive your application packet.
    • Original Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
    • Your recently issued I-20 that shows OPT dates on page 2. It is OK to send a copy of your I-20 and keep the original.
    • Copies from your Passport:
      • Identity pages (with your name, picture, expiration and/or renewal dates, etc.)
      • Visa, and
      • The most recent entry stamp in your passport, or a copy of your electronic I-94, available at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/
    • Copies of all available previous I-20s, especially if have had CPT or OPT authorization before.
    • If applicable, a copy of any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Document) cards.
  4. Mail the OPT application. Make sure to use the type of service that tracks packages.

    If use express mail or a courier service (UPS, FedEx, etc.), send to:

    USCIS
            Attn: AOS
            1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
            Phoenix, AZ 85034
            (800) 375-5283

    If using U.S. Postal Service (USPS), send to:

    USCIS
            P.O. Box 21281
            Phoenix, AZ 85036

The Following is Applicable to Both Pre-Completion and Post-Completion OPT

TIME AFTER USCIS RECEIVES YOUR APPLICATION THIS SHOULD HAPPEN
24 hours If you submitted a Form G-1145 with OPT application packet, you should receive a text message or email within 24 hours upon receipt of application.
3 – 4 weeks You should receive official notification, a Notice Receipt I-797, in regular mail.
After receiving Notice Receipt I-797 Can check Case Status online at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do.
90 days from the date on I-797 EAD should arrive within 90 days, in regular mail, at your U.S. address
Problem What to Do
Did Not Receive Notice Receipt I-797
If you do not receive Notice Receipt (I-797) within 30 days after your application was received by USCIS, Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/e-Request/Intro.do. See “Did not receive notice by mail”.
If you do not receive Notice Receipt (I-797) within 30 days after it was received by USCIS an alternative option is Contact Lockbox Support at lockboxsupport@uscis.dhs.gov
Things are Taking Too Long
If you think your case is taking longer than normal, Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/e-Request/Intro.do. See “Case outside normal processing time”
If you contacted USCIS about a Case Inquiry or a Service request (at egov.uscis.gov/e-Request) more than 30 days ago and you have not received a response, you may email the California Service Center at csc-ncsc-followup@dhs.gov
New Address After Applying for OPT
After filing an application for OPT, you move. Use Receipt Number to change address online. (If you have a Receipt Number then your OPT Application is in progress, or in “Pending” status.) If you change your address online, do not file a paper Form AR-11. To update your address online, go to https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do
After filing an application for OPT, you move. You do not have a Receipt Number. See “Did Not Receive Notice Receipt I-797”  
Do not Receive EAD within 120 days
If you do not receive EAD within 120 days after approval, Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/e-Request/Intro.do. See link, “Did not receive card by mail.”
Sometimes students are required to go to the local USCIS office to pick up their EAD. The closest office is in Chatsworth, CA. Do NOT send anything to this address. 19809 Prairie Street, 1st Floor, Suite 100
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Open 7 am to 3 pm Monday - Friday

Misspelling
If something is misspelled on a document from USCIS, Go to https://egov.uscis.gov/e-Request/Intro.do. See link, “Typographic Error.”
EAD card has Incorrect Information
You made the error, it is not an USCIS error, submit a new Form I-765 and filing fee along with the incorrect EAD card Submit to the same address you used to apply for OPT.
NOT your error, USCIS made the error, submit a letter along with your incorrect EAD card Submit to the Service Center or National Benefit Center that approved your last employment authorization request.
Do not Receive Social Security card
You did not receive a Social Security Card. Remember: You should receive a Social Security card a week after receiving your EAD card ONLY IF:
  1. you never had a social security number before, and
  2. you asked for one on the I-765 application.
Go to the Social Security Administration office.
Last Resort
In very rare cases, you may have a situation that did not get resolved. To make an appointment with USCIS for troublesome cases, Go to Info Pass to make an appointment https://my.uscis.gov/appointment.

You can read EVERYTHING about OPT at these official sites:

Form I-765 and Instructions for Form I-765 https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
Immigration and Customs Enforcement https://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment
USCIS https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/optional-practical-training
USCIS, Fees, Filing Online, Check Case States, and more https://www.uscis.gov/
Study in the States https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-optional-practical-training-opt
https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-optional-practical-training-opt#general_information

What is CPT?

  • CPT is part-time employment that allows students to get Curricular Practical Training in their field of study.
  • The employment must be an integral part of the curriculum and DIRECTLY related to their studies.
  • Employment can be paid or unpaid; it might be called internship, or cooperative education or training.
  • Student must expect to be enrolled in upcoming session or semester.
  • CPT is considered part-time or full-time based on 20 hours per week of employment. Fewer than 20 hours a week is part time and more than 20 hours a week is full time.
  • If a student works one full year on full-time CPT, he or she is no longer eligible for post-completion OPT.
  • Fewer than 365 days of full-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
  • Long-term, part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
  • CPT is authorized for a specific employer for a specific amount of time. Different employers or extension of time must be approved in ARC.

Process

  • First, students who are eligible for CPT must obtain a letter from their prospective employer. The letter should be on company letterhead and must contain the following information:
    • Expected start and end date of employment; name and location of worksite; name and contact information of supervisor; and will student be working more than or less than 20 hours per week?
  • Submit that letter along with the CPT Request form to ARC.
  • If approved, a new I-20 with CPT authorization will be issued.
  • When students already have a social security number (SSN), they can begin working right away.
  • Students who need a SSN must request a letter from ARC to use at their appointment at the Social Security Administration office. See Social Security Numbers section below.

On-Campus Employment

On-Campus Employment – General Information

  • On-campus employment is work that takes place on campus or at an off-campus location that is part of the university.
  • On-campus employment is often Student Assistant positions in an office in one of the colleges or administrative departments or working at any of the businesses located on the CSUN campus.
  • It is not necessary for the employment to be related to a student’s field of study.
  • On-campus employment allows students to work on-campus, part-time, which is 20 or fewer hours per week when school is in session. During school breaks, if eligible and intend to register for the next semester, students may work for more than 20 hours per week. 40 hours per week is the maximum. 21 to 40 hours a week is defined as full-time employment.
  • On-campus employment is not recorded in SEVIS.

Student Eligibility for On-Campus Employment

  • F-1 students who enter the United States on an "Initial" I-20 may not begin on-campus employment more than 30 days prior to the actual start of classes.
  • Transfer in students:
    • Once the I-20 is transferred in SEVIS students cannot work at their old school.
    • Once the I-20 is transferred in SEVIS, students can begin working at their new school up to 30 days prior to the start date of the session.
  • All international students seeking on-campus work authorization must be in correct F-1 status and graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.0.
  • On-campus work permits have expiration dates and must be renewed prior to expiration.
  • Students must stop working when they complete their last class in their program.
  • Working during the 60-day grace period after completion of studies is not allowed.
  • Students who fall out of SEVIS status are not eligible to work on campus. They must immediately stop working so that they do not accrue unauthorized employment time.

Process to Work On Campus

  • Must have an offer of employment first.
  • The department that is hiring you issues an “Intent to Hire” letter.
  • Human Resources, (located in University Hall 165) gives you the “Verification of International Student Status” form. (HR documents and HR personnel often refer to IESC. IESC is the International and Exchange Student Center, in the USU, and that office does handle a large number of international students and their employment. However, Tseng College students work with ARC, not IESC.)
  • Go to ARC, Admissions, Registration and Client Services, in EU 200 to:
    1. Have your “Verification of International Student Status” form* signed, and
    2. Request an “On-Campus Employment Verification” letter.
       
      The letter needs to include the start date of the job, where it is located, and the job title, so give that information along with the letter request.
       
      The DSO writing the letter will include the obvious items such as your name, date of birth, that you are an F-1 student here, etc. In addition, the letter will verify that you 1) have been offered on-campus employment, 2) that you are in status in SEVIS, and 3) for cohort students, will give an explanation that although you appear to be a part-time student in SOLAR, you are in fact, part of a cohort and are considered to be a full-time student by SEVIS and by the Tseng College/CSUN which gives you the same benefits as any other full-time, graduate-level, CSUN student.
  • If you have never received a social security number before, use this same letter when applying for a social security number. You must go in person to the Social Security Administration office when applying for a social security number. Bring original documents, not copies, to your appointment. See below for how to apply for a social security number.

* You must submit signed Verification of International Student Status form to HR within three days of the job start date.

Summary of Employment for F-1 Students

Category Number of Hours Allowed to Work Per Week Paid Employment Allowed? Unpaid Employment Allowed Must be Related to Major? Must Complete 1 Academic Year to be Eligible?
1 – 20 20 – 40
POST-Completion OPT NO MUST YES YES** YES YES
PRE-Completion OPT YES NO* YES YES YES YES
On-Campus YES NO* YES NO*** NO NO
CPT YES YES YES YES YES YES

* Cannot work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session but OK to work 20-40 hours during breaks such as during summer, spring break, between semesters.

** Unpaid employment is allowed during Post-Completion OPT but student must have proof of volunteering or work without pay for more than 20 hours per week.

*** F-1s can only volunteer, have unpaid internships, etc. 1) if not displacing a regular employee, and 2) the experience is for the benefit of the intern/student (not for the benefit of the employer) and it should be similar to training that would be received in an educational environment.

Specific Programs in the Tseng College and Employment Authorization

Language program (IEP) students are never eligible for employment of any kind.

GCBA (Graduate Certificate in Business Administration) students are eligible for Post-Completion OPT after completing the GCBA certificate but that results in being ineligible for OPT after completing an MBA.

The M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis is currently the only program in the Tseng College that is eligible for CPT in the first semester of the program, and CPT is available throughout the program as well.

The M.S. in Taxation program has a class for the Tax Clinic, ACCT 698. CPT is available for working in the Tax Clinic if the student is enrolled in the class.

Other Types of Employment – Not Available to Tseng College Students

The following types of employment are for specific purposes and for specific situations that very rarely apply to F-1 Tseng College students. For that reason, they are not discussed further on this site.

  • STEM OPT Extension. Currently, Tseng College degree programs are not on the STEM Designated Degree Program list. This is a list of majors that are eligible for STEM OPT published by the Department of Education.
  • Severe Economic Hardship or the Special Student Relief Program.
  • Internships with specific International Organizations.

If you feel you may be eligible for any of the above, read more about these types of employment. Some official sites are:

If after further reading, you still feel you may be eligible, contact a DSO in ARC.

Social Security Numbers

All students who work in the United States must have a Social Security Number.

Only one Social Security Number is assigned to a person. If you have already received a social security number at any time in the past, do not reapply.

 

Steps for Applying for a Social Security Number – For Every Type of Employment

  1. Cannot apply online but can fill out and print the application form (Form SS-5).
  2. Gather original documents to take to the Social Security Office:
    • The application (Form SS-5)
    • Unexpired passport, with visa
    • Most recent I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, available at Customs and Border Protection website.
    • Form I-20. For OPT and CPT, the employment page (page 2) of your I-20 must show that CPT or OPT has been requested.
    • PLUS – depending on which type of work authorization – also need required letters and /or documents listed below.

Optional Practical Training – In Addition to the Steps Above, OPT requirements are:

If you did not apply for a social security at the same time you were applying for OPT, follow the steps listed:

  1. You cannot apply for a social security number until you receive your EAD card (EAD Form I-766 Employment Authorization) and cannot apply before the start date on the EAD card
  2. Bring original EAD card along with application and documents listed when you go to the Social Security office.
  3. For OPT, your I-20 must have the employment authorization on page 2.

Curricular Practical Training – In Addition to the Steps Above, CPT requirements are:

  • For CPT employment, request a letter from ARC for the Social Security Office. ARC must receive a copy of the employment offer letter in order to write the letter for the Social Security office.
  • For CPT, your I-20 must have the employment authorization on page 2, and it must be signed by your school’s designated official (DSO) on page 1.
  • Do NOT make your social security appointment for more than 30 days before your CPT start date.

On-Campus Employment – In Addition to the Steps Above, On-Campus requirements are:

  • For On-Campus employment, request a letter from ARC that is written and signed by a DSO.
  • The letter will serve as a Verification letter and as a letter for the Social Security Office.
  • The letter must include the following:
    • your current school status,
    • your new employer (company name and location),
    • your supervisor’s name, phone, and email,
    • your position title,
    • the work you will be doing, and
    • the number of hours you will be working.

Location of Closest Social Security Administration (SSA) Office

20439 Nordhoff St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
(at the cross streets of Nordhoff St. and Mason Ave.)
Open: Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Closed on Federal Holidays)

 

Misc. Information from the Social Security Administration Website

  • All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.
  • Photocopies or notarized copies of documents are not accepted.
  • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place. It is an important document. Do not carry it with you.
  • Assistance with Social Security: 1-800-772-1213

Sources: Employment & Social Security Numbers

EMPLOYMENT
USCIS, SEVP, Information about Employment. See tabs: F-1 On-Campus and F-1 Off-Campus https://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment
USCIS, SEVP, Information about Practical Training http://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training/
Study in the States, Working in the United States https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/working-in-the-united-states
Study in the States, Training Opportunities in the United States https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/training-opportunities-in-the-united-states
Self-reporting employment information in the SEVP Portal https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help
SEVP Portal Password Tips Sheet https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-password-tips-sheet”
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
Social Security Administration site. Has steps for getting a new or replacement Social Security Card. https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/
At the Social Security Administration site see, “Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens” (pdf) or “International Students And Social Security Numbers” (pdf) https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/