International students can work on-campus up to 50% time (20 hours/week or less) during the academic terms and full-time during the academic break periods including summer quarter. Special authorization is not required to work on-campus as long as you are in valid F-1 student status, pursuing a full course of study. Once you complete your study program you are no longer eligible to be employed on-campus without special authorization ̶ i.e., practical training. On-campus employment is employment engaged in at UCSB such as a teaching or research assistantship, employment in the University Center, library aide, etc. Generally speaking, this means that you will be receiving a paycheck from UCSB. On-campus employment opportunities can be found on Handshake.
Off-campus employment requires some form of written or documented authorization issued by either the USCIS or OISS.
You must be currently in legal status and have been enrolled as an F-1 student in the U.S. for a minimum of one academic year (9 months) to be eligible for any form of off-campus employment (You can engage in on-campus employment without any special authorization before 9 months have elapsed, as long as you are a full-time enrolled student).
Employment, both on and off campus together, is limited to 50% time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session and can be full-time during the vacation or break periods.
There are 3 options for off-campus employment for students in F-1 status
- CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off-campus employment or an internship related to your major that is a requirement of a course. You must be registered for a class (e.g., internship, independent study) where you will receive unit credit for the training or internship. CPT is limited to part-time while classes are in session and may be full-time during the break periods. CPT is not deducted from your 12 months of OPT, unless you work one year or more of full-time CPT. In this case you will not be eligible for any OPT. Authorization for CPT is granted by OISS and can take about 2 weeks. No fee is required. [CPT Application Here]
- OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment or training directly related to your field of study. OPT provides an opportunity for you to obtain actual work experience in the U.S. related to your studies. In F-1 status you are allowed 12 months of full-time optional practical training per degree program. (For example, if you are in the U.S. for both a bachelor’s and master’s program, you are allowed 12 months of OPT for each one.) Authorization for OPT is provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) [OPT Request Form]
- 24-MONTH STEM EXTENSION OPT:
Recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain government-designated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a 24-month extension of Post-Completion OPT (for a total eligibility period of up to 36 months). The 24-month STEM Extension OPT is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). [More here.]
- EMPLOYMENT DUE TO UNFORESEEN ECONOMIC HARDSHIP
F-1 students can apply for off-campus work permission based on economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances. Applications for this work permit are reviewed by USCIS on a case-by-case basis and decisions are dependent upon the student’s personal circumstances. Students applying for this type of work authorization are required to first make a “good faith” effort to find employment on-campus. The authorization is granted by USCIS in the form of an EAD card that takes around 120 days for processing and requires a fee. The work permit allows employment that is unrelated to the study program. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals. [Application at USCIS]
Social Security Number
If you have never applied for or been issued a Social Security Number (SSN) you will need to do so within a month of starting your position. You are not required to have an SSN when applying or starting a job. Please see the Social Security Administration website for further details about applying: https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/
Your SSN is a sensitive document/number that should only be provided to authorized personnel or agencies. Keep your Social Security card secure and do not carry it with you on a daily basis.