International students are permitted to work in the United States, though firm immigration regulations apply to all employment options. Any unauthorized employment violates your legal status and compromises your ability to remain in or return to the United States. For more information about employment regulations, visit International Student Services and attend an Employment Options workshop.
You are automatically eligible to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the spring and fall semesters. You are eligible to work full-time on campus during vacation periods and during the summer. On campus work does not have to be related to your major.
Available after one academic year of enrollment at Davidson.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment authorization available to F-1 students for work experience that is considered an integral part of a student's curriculum or academic program. CPT can only be authorized before graduation and is generally used for summer research or internships. Steps for gaining CPT authorization include:
- Secure a job offer
- With your academic advisor, complete this CPT request form
- Return form to International Student Services to be entered in SEVIS
- Receive new I-20 with CPT authorization and then begin work
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization most students use to gain work experience in their field of study after graduation. OPT is granted for a duration of 12 months (extensions are available in certain cases) per educational level. Steps for gaining OPT authorization include:
- With your academic advisor, complete this OPT request form
- Complete Form I-765
- Bring both forms, along with your immigration documents, to International Student Services. OPT request will be entered in SEVIS. A new I-20 will be returned to you.
- Mail copies of everything, along with a $380 application fee and 2 passport-sized photos to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Wait. You may not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document from the government. Note: the government can take 3 months to process OPT applications.
While on OPT, students are required to report any of the following within 10 days:
- A change in name or address of residence
- The name and address of your employer. If you have more than one employer, you must provide each employer's name and address.
- The name and address of any new employer
- Any change to any employer's name or address
- Any period of unemployment, including those days between the end of one job and the beginning of the new job
- If you decide not to use OPT and depart the U.S. to return home or to another country.
- If you change to another nonimmigrant status in the U.S., such as H-1, E-3, G-4, TN, etc. or obtain Permanent Resident status.
Students may report any of these updates.
For more information about OPT, visit International Student Services and attend an OPT workshop.
Severe Economic Hardship
If something severe and unforeseen happens to your financial situation, you may apply for a Severe Economic Hardship (SEH) work permit. Employment on SHE does not have to be related to your major. Steps for gaining SEH authorization include:
- Meet with International Student Services to determine your eligibility
- Write a cover letter to USCIS explaining your situation, noting the severity of the circumstances and how the situation is out of your control
- Collect documents (medical bills, bank statements, etc.) to support your case
- Complete Form I-765
- Bring documents back to International Student Services for the SHE request to be entered in SEVIS. A new I-20 will be returned to you.
- Mail copies of everything, along with a $380 application fee and two passport-sized photos to USCIS
- Wait. You may not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document from the government. Note: the government can take 3 months to process SHE applications.
Special work permits are also available for F-1 students offered employment with certain international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, etc. Learn more about the application process for this work permit.