Passport & Consular Services

Am I Allowed to Work With a US Study and Exchange Visa?

The rules regarding work authorization for individuals with U.S. study and exchange visas, such as F1 visas or J-1 visas, vary depending on the specific visa category and program. Here’s an overview:

F1 Visa (Academic Students):

On-Campus Employment: F1 visa holders are generally allowed to work on the campus of their educational institution. This employment is typically limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and can be full-time during scheduled breaks and vacations.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): F1 students may be eligible for CPT, which allows them to participate in paid off-campus employment related to their field of study. CPT requires prior authorization from the designated school official (DSO) and must be an integral part of the curriculum.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): F1 students may be eligible for OPT, which allows them to work in a job directly related to their field of study after completing their program. OPT can be either pre-completion or post-completion, and it requires an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

STEM OPT Extension: F1 students who have completed a degree in a qualifying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field may be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT beyond the initial post-completion OPT period.

J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitors):

Employment Authorization: J-1 visa holders may be eligible for employment authorization, but it is subject to the specific regulations of their J-1 program. Some J-1 programs may allow employment as part of the program, while others may not.

Academic Training: J-1 exchange visitors in academic programs may be eligible for Academic Training, which is a type of work authorization that allows them to gain practical experience in their field of study. Academic Training requires approval from the program sponsor and is typically limited to the duration of the program or a specific period.

It’s important to note that work authorization for both F1 and J-1 visa holders is subject to specific regulations and limitations. It’s crucial to consult with the designated school official (DSO) for F1 visa holders or the program sponsor for J-1 visa holders to understand the specific work authorization options and procedures available to you.

Additionally, it’s essential to maintain compliance with the terms and conditions of your visa, including maintaining full-time student status (for F1 visa holders) or fulfilling the requirements of the exchange program (for J-1 visa holders). Unauthorized employment or working beyond the authorized limits can have serious consequences for your immigration status in the United States.

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