Students are not required or expected to work while they are attending a college or university in the United States. Because some students need to supplement their income, working on campus is permitted to non-citizens on student visas without special permission from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS, formerly U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)).
On-campus jobs are available in a variety of academic and support service offices. These jobs are usually advertised on REDHAWKjobs.com, https://semo.edu/careers/redhawkjobs/, the university's online job database for students. Other jobs that are considered "on-campus" for DHS purposes are available through our on-campus food service provider, Chartwells Dining Services.
Full-time international students can work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the regular semester and 40 hours per week during spring, summer and fall breaks. International students on student visas are not authorized to work off campus unless authorized through the Office of International Education & Services OR the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services.
A non-citizen almost always must have some kind of permission or authorization in order to work in the United States. Students that begin work prior to receiving written authorization are in violation of their student visa status.
The consulate that issued your visa was convinced by your documentation that you have the financial resources to be able to complete your educational program in the U.S. If the documents you submitted were not accurate, then U.S. law can provide serious penalties for committing fraud.
There are various myths about working off-campus in the U.S. while on a student visa. Sometimes ill-informed or ill-intentioned advisors overseas will tell prospective students not to worry about money because they will be able to work off campus after nine months. This is only true under very specific circumstances and it is NEVER possible without the authorization of a DSO and/or the U.S.C.I.S. (DHS). A foreign citizen student should never begin working off-campus without consulting with a DSO in the Office of International Education and Services.
There are special ways that international student may work in the U.S. and they are generally provided as benefits of maintaining lawful status. They are excellent ways to understand the world of work as it relates to a chosen profession, and we encourage international students to seek these opportunities where available. We stand ready to help students file the appropriate applications, and we are happy to be of service in supporting international student success at Southeast Missouri State University. Please contact our office if you have further questions.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment available to F-1 degree-seeking students after completion of all course requirements for the degree listed on their I-20 (excluding thesis). Upon approval from USCIS, a student can work for an initial period of up to 12 months.
Step 1 – Ensure you have applied for graduation and it has been approved. If you have not been approved for graduation by the Registrar’s Office, complete the International Student Program Verification Form with your academic advisor or a faculty member.
Step 2 – Compile the following documents:
Step 3 – Fill out the "Request for OPT I-20 and Appointment" form found at https://www.semo.edu/international/opt/index.html to schedule an appointment; bring all documents listed in Step 1 and Step 2. You will receive your OPT I-20 at this appointment. You should add a copy of this I-20 to your previous I-20s in your application materials.
Step 4 – Mail documents to:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Status and Reporting Requirements
While on OPT, you remain on an F-1 student visa and are required to report changes in the following to the Office of International Education and Services within 10 days of the change:
Complete the OPT I-20 Update Request form. Report employment changes, including employment start/end dates, your employment designation (full-time or part-time), employer name, employer location, supervisor name, supervisor contact information. You should also report personal contact information including address changes, change of email address, and change of telephone number.
Job requirements during OPT
You must complete the online OPT Insurance Renewal Enrollment Request Form no later than December 1 for the following spring semester or July 1 for the following fall semester
Travel and Reentry
F-1 students approved for standard post-completion optional practical training based on a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field that appears on the DHS STEM-Designated Degree Program List can apply to USCIS for a one-time 24-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months).
To be eligible for the extension, the student's employer must be registered in E-Verify and must agree to report to the DSO when the student is terminated or leaves employment. The student must apply for the STEM OPT extension before their standard period of post-completion OPT expires, and must also agree to make periodic reports to the DSO. A student who has applied for a STEM extension can continue working for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the prior post-completion OPT EAD while the STEM extension application is pending.
Mail documents to the lockbox address appropriate for the state you live in at the
time of your application.
A student on STEM OPT must report to the Office of International Education and Services by completing the STEM OPT 6 Month Validation form every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when either the student's F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the OPT extension ends, whichever is first. This information must be reported within 10 business days of each report due date and a DSO will update the information in SEVIS. This is required by SEVIS even if the student's employment has not changed. The information required includes:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work training that is an integral part of an established curriculum, this includes: “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.” CPT is available only prior to the completion of a degree program and the student must have a job offer for CPT at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.
To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), a student must:
According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are multiple reasons for participating in CPT:
Step 1 - Complete the following documents:
Step 2 – Schedule a meeting with a Designated School Official (DSO) at the Office of International Education and Services by emailing email@example.com to request an appointment.
Step 3 – Once your application has been approved by a DSO, your new CPT I-20 will be created.
One condition of approval for F-1 nonimmigrant status is that a student shows the ability to pay for his or her education and support while in the United States. The severe economic hardship employment authorization benefit is intended to address situations where a financial need beyond the student's control arises, which was unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he or she is currently attending and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.
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."
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
If employment is authorized, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If the application is denied, USCIS 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.