F-1 students may be employed on-campus part-time (20 hours or less per week) during the fall and spring semesters and full-time during the summer and other official school breaks. You must maintain full-time enrollment each consecutive semester to remain eligible for this benefit.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is available to F-1 students who have had F-1 Student Status for 9 consecutive months at a U.S. university but have not yet completed the minimum requirements for graduation. CPT allows international students to be paid for work experience off-campus (e.g. an internship) if it is integral to the student's established curriculum and done for credit. Students must provide CPT paperwork signed by their faculty advisor or major department chairperson, and the employer who hires them. International students must not begin work until the appropriate forms have been completed and they have received an I-20 with authorization for employment printed on page 3. Contact Jo Cooper, International Student Advisor, for more information and to receive the forms.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is temporary employment for practical training that is “directly related to the student’s area of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level." F-1 students may participate for up to 12 months of OPT, usually post-graduation. There are eligibility requirements, and an application to the USCIS is required. Contact Jo Cooper, International Student Advisor, for more information and to receive the forms.
Resources for Finding Work
Networking with other international Calvin alumni is a great resource; find contacts on uKnight.
You can also view employers that have sponsored international students at myvisajobs.com. You can search over 5 million labor certifications filed by U.S. employers since 2001. It releases visa reports annually and profiles every U.S. visa sponsor. It also uses quantitative modeling methods to analyze H1B Visa, Green Card petitions and job openings, and then provides personalized work visa solution based on users' skills and preferences. Create an account using your Calvin email address to access premium services (free) on this site.
If you are interested in working in Michigan, the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Michigan (GTRI) can be a helpful resource. GTRI provides international students and local employers with training and resources on relevant immigration regulations, information on finding a job in Michigan, and help with cross-cultural issues that both employers and international applicants may experience during the hiring process.
Finally, see our handout about international students and internships.