F-1 Internships & Off-Campus Employment

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for students with F-1 Visas

OPT is defined as temporary employment for practical training directly related to your major area of study. There are 3 types of OPT:


  • Pre-completion OPT (standard OPT)
  • Post-completion OPT (standard OPT)
  • 24-month extensions of post-completion OPT for certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree holders. (24-month STEM OPT Extension)


Standard OPT Eligibility Requirements for both pre and post-completion OPT:


  • You must have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year.
  • Employment must be directly related to your area of study
  • No offer of employment is required, but you are expected to work or actively look for a job after you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • You cannot begin working until you receive your EAD card from USCIS and the start date has been reached.
  • You are ineligible for OPT if you have already done an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time CPT at the same educational level (part-time CPT does not count for ineligibility).


Standard Pre-Completion OPT (before you graduate):


  • Must maintain a full course of study during the period of employment (except during school breaks)
  • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session (can apply to work full-time during official school breaks)
  • Recommended to obtain a job offer before submitting OPT application


Standard Post-Completion OPT (after you graduate):


  • Employment must be full-time
  • You can be unemployed for a maximum of 90 days during the standard 12-month OPT period. If you exceed 90 days of unemployment, you will be out of status.


Standard OPT Application Steps:


  1. Apply for OPT recommendation from CGE.
    • Attend OPT workshop (CGE offers 1 OPT workshop each semester).
    • Submit Edgewood College OPT Application to the CGE.
    • CGE will review application, determine eligibility, and make appropriate recommendation in SEVIS.
  2. File application materials with USCIS.
    • Carefully review CGE’s OPT application instructions for submitting your materials to USCIS.
    • Meet with Sara to pick-up new I-20 and review application materials before submitting to USCIS.
    • USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after the issue date of your OPT I-20.

Standard OPT Application Deadlines

Pre-Completion OPT


  • Students can apply up to 90 days before being enrolled for 1 full academic year;  *employment cannot begin prior to completion of full academic year*
  • Pre-Completion OPT: Students who have met the 1 academic year requirement may apply up to 90 days before the requested employment start date.


Post-Completion OPT


  • Can apply up to 90 days before program end date on your I-20 & up to 60 days after program end date.
  • USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after Sara makes the OPT recommendation in SEVIS.
  • Submit your application materials to CGE at least 2 weeks prior (earlier is recommended) prior to the date you plan to submit application to USCIS.

Additional Important Information Regarding OPT

Health Insurance

Students on approved OPT are eligible to maintain enrollment in Edgewood’s international student health insurance policy. Students must submit an enrollment form to the CGE before the OPT start date and before their current health insurance coverage ends. Edgewood’s health insurance coverage ends on December 31 for students graduating in December and on July 31 for students graduating in May.

EAD (Employment Authorization Document)

Send CGE a copy of the front and back of your EAD as soon as you receive it!

Travel Issues

  • Departing the US after completing your studies but before you receive your EAD is NOT recommended. If you choose to travel, you should carry your Receipt Notice from the Service Center proving that your application for OPT is pending. 
  • After completing your studies and once you have received the EAD, you must obtain a travel endorsement from CGE for re-entry into the US.
  • Travel endorsements while on OPT are only valid for six months from the date of signature.
  • In addition to the travel-endorsed I-20, you will need a valid passport, F-1 visa stamp, and EAD for re-entry into the US. Proof of employment is now highly recommended; re-entry into the US without this could be difficult.

Updates You Are Required to Provide to CGE While on OPT

You must update CGE regarding the information listed below. Failure to do so is a violation of your F-1 status.
  • Change of your address, phone number, email address, or name: Inform CGE within 10 days of the change by submitting an online Personal Information Update through the CGE website.
  • Employment Updates:
    1. Submit an OPT Employment Report Form and a copy of your EAD to CGE as soon as you begin employment. Submit an updated OPT Employment Report Form within 10 days of any changes with your employment.
    2. In addition to submitting the required OPT Employment Report Form and a copy of your EAD to the CGE, students on post-completion OPT also have access to report address, phone, and employer information directly to SEVP through the SEVP Portal. To use the SEVP Portal, student must confirm with CGE that their email address is accurately saved in SEVIS. For complete details about the SEVP Portal and how to create an account, visit: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help
    3. Remember: *You cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days during the 12-month OPT period!*

Resuming Study

If you plan to resume studies during the period your EAD card is valid, please consult CGE regarding this process. If you plan to attend a different educational institution and you would like your SEVIS record transferred, please complete the SEVIS Record Release form (available online in the International Student Handbook). Expiry of EAD You have a 60-day grace period in which to depart the U.S. or start another educational program after your postcompletion OPT. If you are not leaving U.S. by the end of the grace period, you should have applied to obtain an alternate status by the end of your grace period.

STEM OPT Extension

Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. For information, visit the STEM OPT Hub on the Study in the States website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub. After reviewing the information online, contact Sara Liang if you are interested or have questions.


Curricular Practical Training for Students with F-1 Visas

If your academic major or a course in which you are enrolled requires that you complete an internship (paid or unpaid), practicum, work, or training off campus, you can apply for a special work permission called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Eligibility Requirements:

  • You are in valid F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year. If you have had a leave of absence, changed status from undergraduate to graduate, or changed nonimmigrant status, consult with the Director of International Student Services regarding your eligibility. If you acadeimc program requires practical training before completion of 1 academic year, consult with the Director of International Student Services regarding your eligibilty. 
  • Maintain full-time enrollment during the period of CPT unless your approved CPT is during the summer term. 
  • You have an offer for practical training opportunity that is directly related to your academic major as listed on your I-20. 
  • One of the following:
    • An academic internship or practicum is required of all students in your program in order to graduate.
    • An academic internship or practicum is an elective option in your program and you are registered for the internship/practical training
    • Work or traning experience gained from an internship is integral to your graduate thesis or dissertation research and you are registered for the appropriate thesis/dissertation research course. 
  • You will maintain enrollment in the appropriate internship/practical traning/research course for all terms in which you have CPT. 

How does CPT affect eligibility for OPT?

  • If you are authorized for 1 year or more of full-time CPT, you lose your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Part-time CPT and full-time CPT for less than 1 year do not affect your eligibility for OPT.

See the Curricular Practical Training Application for complete details.

F-1 Student Employment based on Severe Economic Hardship

This off-campus employment opportunity is intended to address situations in which a financial need beyond your control arises, which was unforeseen at the time you applied to Edgewood. Since one condition of approval for an F-1 student visa is proof of your ability to pay for your education and living expenses in the U.S., this economic hardship must be the result of a recent, unexpected change in your financial situation.

Examples of unforeseen economic hardship 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, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.


To be eligible to apply for economic hardship employment, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
  • You can provide written documentation that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.
  • You must be able to maintain your F-1 status (including enrollment as a full-time student) while you engage in economic hardship employment.
  • You do not need to have a job offer to apply for economic hardship employment.


Conditions of Employment:

  • Must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and receive the EAD BEFORE employment begins.
  • You can work in any type of job; it does not have to be related to your course of study.
  • You can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during official school breaks.
  • USCIS grants this type of employment in increments of one year at a time.  You must reapply to USCIS each year to renew this work authorization.
  • If you transfer to another school, the employment authorization ends.


Application Process:

  1. Submit the Edgewood College Severe Economic Hardship Employment Application to the Center for Global Education.
    • You need to receive approval from the Center for Global Education before submitting materials to USCIS.  You may need to schedule an individual appointment with Sara to discuss your situation.  Upon approval, Sara will print a new I-20 that indicates your recommendation for economic hardship.
  2. Submit to USCIS the following documentation:
    • Written statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your home country.
    • Written statement explaining why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient (a simple statement might suffice);
    • Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the code: (c)(3)(iii) at item 16.
    • Provide a check or money order for the I-765 fee.
    • 2 photos (see "Photo guidelines for visas and immigration benefits")
    • Copy of Form I-20 issued with DSO recommendation for economic hardship employment
    • Copy of your I-94, front and back
    • Copy of the ID pages from your passport

Mail your completed application and supporting documentation to:

If using the U.S. Postal Service:
Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87765
Lincoln, NE 68501-7765                             

If using a private courier such as FedEx:

Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508-1225

*It is strongly recommended to meet with Sara to review your application materials BEFORE you mail them to USCIS. *

*Always check the USCIS website for current I-765 fees and processing times. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis

If USCIS approves your application and authorizes employment, they will issue an EAD. If USCIS denies your application, they will indicate the reason for the denial in writing.
A denial may not be appealed, although if the circumstances warrant, a motion to
reopen or reconsider could be filed.