F-1 Employment Basics & Eligibility

It is important for you to understand your options for legal employment and to not engage in any illegal employment while in the United States. Illegal employment can result in immediate cancellation of your F-1 visa.

Contact the International Student Office for help with any of the following employment.

On-campus employment

You are eligible to work on-campus for Austin Community College if you have a valid F-1 visa and you maintain good academic standing. You can work up to 20 hours a week.

You are NOT allowed to work off campus without prior approval from International Student Office and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Find a job on campus

Check with the campus supervisor each of the following areas:

If a position is not available currently, you can try again at the beginning and end of semesters when students graduate and schedules change. (F-1 students are not eligible for work-study positions.)

ACC’s employment website occasionally lists some hourly positions. Campus positions typically fill quickly and are not posted online.  

Apply for a Social Security number

Once you have been offered a position, you will need to apply for a Social Security number in order to begin working.

To apply for a Social Security number, obtain an employment verification form. This is provided by your hiring manager as proof of employment offer.

Next, visit the Social Security Administration local office. Take the following documents with you:

  • The employment letter prepared by your hiring manager
  • Original I-20
  • Passport with visa and I-94 card

Input new number into student record

Once you receive your Social Security number, present the card to your supervisor and to the International Student Office to have the number put into your student record to allow for payment. A Social Security number is NOT a work permit and cannot be used to obtain alternate employment.

Off-campus employment

There are two types of practical training opportunities for F-1 students to gain job experience in their field of study. You must be enrolled for one full academic year and maintain your F-1 status in order to apply.  

Curricular practical training

Curricular practical training (CPT) allows you to legally engage in an off-campus internship while receiving credits that count toward completion of your program of study. Speak with your academic program department about internship opportunities that earn college credit.

Once you arrange an internship, submit an application for CPT to the International Student Office. Upon approval, you will receive an updated I-20 with a CPT endorsement. Do not engage in any CPT employment without first receiving the updated I-20.

IMPORTANT: If you engage in full-time CPT for 12 or more months before graduation, you are not eligible for post-completion optional practical training.

Optional practical training

Optional practical training (OPT) allows you to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in your field of study.

If approved, you will receive authorization to work in the United States for up to 12 months.

Contact the International Student Office at least 90 days before your program completion date because OPT applications can take up to three months. You can apply for OPT up to 60 days after your program end-date.

Severe economic hardship

Under special circumstances, USCIS grants employment authorization if you experience severe economic hardship. You must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program for nine months or longer and have experienced severe and unexpected financial hardship.