This page covers the following topics:
Difference Between "Employment"and "Volunteer Work"?
|Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit.||Volunteer work is any type of work or service that is normally unpaid - no pay or other benefit is expected or received.|
Review the Newsletter about International Students and Employment for a general overview of employment information.
Click the titles to jump down to information about each employment type:
When can I start?
On-campus employment may start immediately after the student enters the U.S., registers full-time at WOU and has been registered in the SEVIS database. Employment may begin as early as 30 days before the start of classes.
The type of work must be work that directly serves WOU's student population.
International students are limited to 20 hours or work per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week during official school breaks, such as winter break, spring break, or summer vacation.
J-1 students must have their SEVIS record updated with the details of their on-campus employment, and J-1 students may only have work authorization for up to one year.
Application Form: On-Campus Employment Authorization Form (PDF)
When can I start?: Students who meet the requirements below may apply for off-campus employment after they have been enrolled full-time for a complete academic year (9 months) in good academic standing. The I-765 application, fees and supporting documents, will need to be sent to USCIS for review. If approved, off-campus employment may begin when the student receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card).
Requirements: A student may be eligible for off-campus employment authorization for the following reasons;
Restrictions: Authorizations are valid for 12 months. Hours of work are limited to 20 hours or less per week while school is in session. Students may work up to 40 hours per week while on official school breaks such as winter break, spring break, or summer vacation. J-1 students are not eligible.
Application Process and Information: These instructions relate to "Severe Economic Hardship" applications.
When can I start?: CPT employment may begin after the student has been enrolled full-time for an academic year (9 months). Exceptions may be given to graduate level students.
Requirements: If a student's major or course requires a paid or unpaid internship off-campus, then the student must enroll in the required class, and get approval from both the professor and CPT authorization from an OIED international student advisor before accepting the internship.
Restrictions: J-1 students students are not eligible for CPT.
Application Process and Information: Complete the CPT online form and get the supporting documents and necessary signatures. Register for the internship class, and then submit the application to the OIED office. Do not start the internship until approval is given.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a term used by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to describe employment or volunteer work (usually off-campus) in the student's major field of study.
When can I start?: Up to 12 months of OPT may be used prior to or after completion of studies. The OPT employment or volunteer work must be directly related to the student's major or field of study.
Requirements: The student must be enrolled full-time or on a approved Reduced Course Load for the academic year (9 months) prior to starting the 12 months of OPT employment.
Additional Information: While on OPT all students need to update OIED within 10 days if they change their address and/or employment. Students with certain majors may be eligible for an extension. See the 17 Month STEM Degree Extension Information (PDF) sheet for details.
Current OPT Students may use the following form to Update OPT Information (Online form)
The table below explains the different variations of OPT authorization.Type of Optional Practical Training Explanation Limitations When to Apply Date OPT Ends
Pre-completion OPT is authorized part-time employment on- or off- campus during studies that is related to the student’s current major. OPT will be authorized up to 12 months on a part-time basis. Student must continue to pursue a full course of study.Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week while on a school break (spring break, summer vacation or other authorized vacation periods).
An application for OPT may be submitted as early as 90 days prior to completing one academic year.The OPT will automatically end on the day the student transfers to a different school, earns his/her degree or after 12 months, whichever is soonest.
Post-completion OPT is used after a student earns his/her degree at WOU and after the completion of the course of study. “Completion of studies” refers to the date on which the student completes all Western Oregon University degree requirements (may be before the completion of a thesis or cumulative exam). It may not always be the date of graduation.OPT must be full time or over 20 hours a week. A student cannot accumulate over 90 days of unemployment or else their OPT will automatically end. The application may be submitted as early as 90 days before the program end date and the latest day for USCIS to receive the application is 60 days after. Applying as soon as possible is highly recommended.
Any OPT authorization ends on the transfer release date for a student who requests a transfer to another school or changes their education level (continues to get a masters degree, etc.), on the OPT end date, or after accumulating 90 days of unemployment.STEM Extension OPT
F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for a one time 17-month extension for their OPT.The application requires that the student have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer and their degree/SEVIS code is on the STEM degree list on the ice.gov Web site. Applications for the extension should be submitted at least 120 to 90 days before the current OPT ends.
The 17 month extension opportunity is available so students have an extended opportunity to apply for an H1B employment visa. Upon approval of an H1B application, the student’s F-1 record will end.
To review detailed OPT information as a PDF click here.
Academic Training is an opportunity for J-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study by engaging in employment or volunteer work which is related to their major or study. The length of AT authorization is equal to the length of their program of study (usually 9 months).
When can I start?: AT may be authorized either during or after completion of program of study, paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time.
There are two types of AT:
Requirements: Students are eligible for academic training if they meet the following requirements:
Application Process: Please go to the AT Application link below to read the application process.
Application Form: AT Application (Online form)
Wolf Link provides information about open on-campus jobs as well as off-campus employment and local opportunities for internships and volunteer work.
Service Learning and Career Development office in the lower level of the Werner University Center helps students find volunteer and internship opportunities. SLCD has resources for students looking for jobs, and assists students in creating a strong resume and in preparing for job interviews. They can also explain what it is like looking for jobs in America and what employers expect from their employees.
To get a Social Security Number (SSN), you must first find a job on campus or be approved for off-campus work (CPT, OPT, AT, etc.).
If you have an on-campus job offer, your employer must fill out the “On-Campus Employment Authorization” form and you should submit it to the OIED office no earlier than 2 weeks before your employment begins. If the job is off-campus, submit the job offer letter to the OIED office.
An OIED international student advisor will review our passport, visa, I-94 card, and I-20/DS-2019 and determine whether you have maintained immigration status before writing a letter of support.
You may then take the letter of support to the Social Security Administration office in Salem and apply for a SSN. The original SSN will be mailed to you in a few days so make sure you get a receipt stating that you applied for a SSN. If working on-campus, you will need to take the receipt to the Payroll office at WOU in the Administration building.
Information about the Payroll office at WOU.
All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire. This includes citizens and non-citizens. The employer must examine specific legal documents of the prospective employee to determine whether they are eligible for employment.
You will be required to fill out the I-9 form, and present proof of employment eligibility, such as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, or the I-20 or DS-2019 with employment remarks and approval. If your employer does not require you to fill out an I-9 form, then the employment may be illegal.
Contact Ermie Buncal in the OIED office for help preparing your taxes.
Students found to be engaging in illegal employment by working without permission, working over the part-time and full-time hour limits, or not following the rules related to the specific type of employment authorization may be subject to the following consequences:
International Education & Development ph:503-838-8425 fax:503-838-8338 | or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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