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F-1 Student Employment

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is to be utilized strictly for academic related requirements and cannot be utilized to facilitate employment. Even if students do not get paid for such a position, CPT application is still required.  See CPT packet for details.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is utilized to work in students’ field of study either during academic program or utilized for employment after degree program.  See OPT packet for details.

Severe Economic Hardship
F-1 student who faces unforeseen severe economic hardship may apply for employment authorization in order to accept off-campus employment up to 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters. Normal processing time for this authorization is approximately 3 months so that a student must plan ahead in order to secure employment eligibility in a timely manner. Severe Economic Hardship is rarely authorized and typically in cases of unforeseen circumstances such as major changes home country economic downfall or catastrophic situation.

Student must not engage in employment until he or she receives EAD (employment authorization document) from the USCIS California Service Center for OPT or Economic Hardship applications.

What You Need To Do:

  • Step 1: Call 520-621-4627 and make an appointment to speak with an ISPS advisor
  • Step 2: Discuss eligibility with the ISPS advisor
  • Step 3: Once found to be eligible, submit all required documents associated with the application packet to the ISPS front desk
  • Step 4: Wait for email from ISPS (if you don’t hear from ISPS after 10 business days of submission, call at 621-4627 to check your application status)
  • Step 5: Pick up your documents including a newly issued Form I-20 at the ISPS front desk

Note 1: Normal processing time at ISPS is 10 business days after receipt of complete documents

Note 2: EAD for severe economic hardship is up to one year. Student must re-apply for EAD if he or she plans to continue employment beyond its expiration

Note 3: EAD becomes automatically invalid when a student completes a degree, leaves the University of Arizona, transfers to another school, or violates his or her F-1 status.



On-Campus Employment

F-1 student may work up to 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters without written permission from ISPS or USCIS. During winter, spring and summer breaks, a student is allowed to work up to 40 hours per week. However, UA policy may only allow 30 hours per week depending on enrollment and term during these official breaks.

Upon initial entry to begin a new program, a student may not begin on-campus employment more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes. In the case of a transfer student, he or she may only engage in on-campus employment after receiving a new Form I-20 at the University of Arizona.

Some off-campus locations are treated as on-campus sites if they are directly owned by the University of Arizona or have strong educational affiliation. If a student is unsure whether his or her work site is considered on-campus, he or she should speak with an ISPS advisor for clarification.