All F-1 students may engage in on-campus employment at MICA, which is a benefit of status and does not require special authorization.
After two semesters in F-1 status, students may be eligible to apply for authorization to engage in off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT and OPT must be authorized in advance on the student's I-20 in order for the work to be legal.
Following is important basic information about each type of employment. See MICA's International Affairs Office for more information about F-1 employment options or to obtain a CPT or OPT application.
(For supplemental income while you pursue your degree)
You may apply for on-campus employment immediately after enrolling at MICA. All F-1 students are eligible.
Type of Work
Any on-campus job that is not Federal Work Study is eligible. Paychecks must be issued by MICA.
Amount of Work
You may work part time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session, or any number of hours during vacation periods.
If you attend school full time and maintain your visa status, authorization for on-campus employment is included in your F-1 status. You do not need to seek authorization from the International Affairs office.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
(For credit-bearing practical training as part of a course or degree)
- After you attend school full time for 9 months or more as an F-1 student in good academic standing, you may apply for CPT. (Semester exchange students are not eligible.)
- MICA undergraduates are only eligible for CPT through internships. Before you can begin to work, you must (1) obtain approval for an internship from MICA's Career Development office, (2) register for the academic credits at MICA during the same semester that you plan to intern, and (3) obtain approval for CPT on your I-20 from MICA's International Affairs office.
- MICA graduate students may have more CPT options. See International Affairs for details and to learn if your proposed employment might qualify as CPT.
Type of Work
- The CPT employment must meet a requirement of your degree program (for example, an internship).
- Authorization is for a single employer or job. You must seek separate CPT authorization for each job. Self-employment is not permitted on CPT.
Amount of Work
You may work part time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session or any number of hours (full or part time) during vacation periods.
- CPT authorization is granted by the Office of International Affairs and registered with the U.S. government. Be sure to apply to International Affairs at least three weeks before your intended employment start date.
- Authorization is only for the CPT dates and employer printed on your I-20. You are not eligible to work until your I-20 is authorized for the CPT employment and the authorized start date has been reached.
- You will show your employer the CPT authorization on your I-20 as proof of your employment eligibility.
- You must be enrolled in the academic credits at the same time that you complete the CPT work. (For example, if you complete an internship in the summer, you must register for summer credits.)
Students on CPT must report to International Affairs if they end their authorized CPT employment early or to discuss their options if they wish to extend or change their employment.
Please meet with yoru counselor in the the MICA Office of Career Development and complete the MICA Network Internship Application. The successful completion and approval of this application will enable International Affairs to create your CPT I-20.
Optional Practical Training
(For practical training in your field of study.)
Please click here for the OPT Information Sheet.
After attending school full time for 9 months or more as an F-1 student in good academic standing, you may apply for OPT. (Semester exchange students are not eligible.)
Type of Work
- OPT jobs must be in your field of study and require your level of education.
- You may work for more than one employer on OPT. Self employment is permitted, but note that you must carefully follow all appropriate business and tax laws related to self employment.
Amount of work
- You may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session, or any number of hours per week during vacations. OPT after graduation must be full time.
- OPT is limited to a total of 12 months for each degree level (BFA, MFA, MA, or MAT). You will receive an additional 12 months if you begin a new degree program at a higher level (for example, if you complete a BFA and begin an MFA).
- If you wish, you can apply to use some or all of your OPT before you graduate, either part time during the semester or up to full time during vacations. However, you must submit a new application (and fee) for each separate period of OPT.
- Part-time (pre-graduation) OPT deducts from your 12 months at half the full-time rate. For example, 4 months of part-time work uses 2 months of your total OPT. OPT after graduation must be full time.
- Extension information: The U.S. government recently announced the option of a 17-month OPT extension for students who majored in certain science, engineering, and technology fields. Very few MICA majors qualify. If you major in Animation, you may be eligible to apply for a 17-month OPT extension. Please speak to International Affairs staff for further information.
- Your F-1 status and OPT employment authorization will automatically be extended if you are the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year. This benefit applies to all students on OPT.
- OPT authorization is granted by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). MICA’s Office of International Affairs will help you to apply. Authorization is usually given, but is not guaranteed. The government usually takes two or three months to process OPT applications, so be sure to apply early.
- OPT applications require an application fee (currently $380).
- You are not eligible to work until you receive OPT authorization card and the authorized start date on the card is reached.
- The government must receive your OPT application before the end of the 60-day grace period following your last day of class or exams.
- You must send your application to USCIS within 30 days of the International Affairs OPT recommendation. You should make an appointment with International Affairs. Please bring your completed application and all required documents with you to this appointment. International Affairs will create your new I-20 that will include the OPT recommendation. Please note that you cannot apply more than 90 days before your program completion date (listed on your I-20). If you do, your application will be denied.
- Overseas travel while waiting for OPT authorization is not recommended.
Students on OPT must report to International Affairs the name and address of their employer(s), change(s) of employer, days of unemployment, change of visa status, return to home country, or decision to end authorized OPT early. Report any changes within 10 days.
Visit the USCIS website to download an application.
Social Security Number and Tax Information
U.S. government regulations require that F-1 students have a job offer in order to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you have been offered an on-campus job at MICA or if you have been authorized for CPT or OPT, please contact the International Affairs office. We can provide you with instructions on how to apply for an SSN and with a letter that you will need as part of your SSN application.
Note that immigration regulations change regularly, so these guidelines may change at any time.
Please click here for the Social Security Information Sheet.
All F-1 students are required to submit a tax form to the U.S. government for every year they are present in the U.S. even if you did not work or earn money.
Please click here for a general guide to help you better understand tax requirements. If you have questions or need assistance with preparing your tax forms, please seek advice from the appropriate government agency, a qualified tax accountant or attorney.