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F-1 Visa Holder Work Authorization

TWU on campus employment is defined as work engaged in by the student on one of the three TWU campuses. Position examples include, but are not limited to: student assistant, research assistant, graduate assistant, teaching assistant, resident assistant, on campus clinical rotation. On campus employment is typically 20 hours or less per week and is searchable through TWU Handshake within the TWU Career Connections website. F-1 Visa holding students do not need permission from the ISSS office to engage in on campus work opportunities.

Graduate assistantships are not guaranteed for all graduate students. F-1 Visa holding graduate students applying for assistantships should consult the Graduate Education Policies for information about assistantship guidelines and requirements. Graduate assistantships are considered on campus employment. TWU tuition and fees are not waived as a part of the employment.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an opportunity to engage in experiential training that applies directly to the F-1 Visa holder's academic program. To qualify for CPT the F-1 Visa holder must have completed one full academic year of study at an approved SEVP-certified U.S. college, university, conservatory, or seminary.   

The CPT opportunity may be part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). The employment dates must start and end within the semester in which the F-1 Visa holder is enrolled in a course that directly relates to the employment experience (i.e. internship, clinical rotation, etc.). 

F-1 Visa holders must first enroll in an appropriate academic course for the semester. The F-1 Visa holder must then submit a CPT request in the International Portal and upload a clinical attestation statement, practicum agreement form, or employer cooperative agreement. The document must be submitted on official letterhead and include a brief outline of duties and responsibilities, start and end dates within the registered semester, information on the number of hours to be worked weekly (part-time or full-time), and the physical address of the employment location. 

  • A cumulative 365 day total of full-time CPT during the student's academic program eliminates the opportunity for an F-1 Visa holder to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) 
  • CPT cannot be extended after the program end date printed on the F-1 Visa holder's I-20
  • CPT must be approved every semester and coincide with semester enrollment
  • CPT, in which the student is an independent contractor with no employer-employee relationship, will not be authorized

CPT start dates for F-1 Visa holders new to TWU: After one year of full-time enrollment during consecutive fall/spring or spring/fall academic semesters. 

CPT end dates for all F-1 Visa holders: Must end on or before the program end date printed on the F-1 Visa holder's I-20. 

Semester start and end dates for F-1 Visa continuing students: With enrollment, CPT can begin the day after the last day of the previous semester, and may end the day before the first class day of the next semester. 

If the F-1 Visa holder's academic department has defined the required internship as equivalent to full-time enrollment, the F-1 Visa holder may qualify for an Academic Reduced Course Load.

Additional information on CPT can be found on the FAQ: Curricular Practical Training page in the International Portal, as well as through scheduled online information sessions.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 Visa holders to engage in employment that directly relates to the student's completed academic program upon graduation. Applications for OPT must be submitted online to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the appropriate application cycle based on the F-1 Visa holder's semester of graduation. OPT application dates are updated in the International Portal. 

F-1 Visa holders are required to attend an OPT information session online through the ISSS office to apply for OPT. Multiple sessions are scheduled throughout each semester and are open to F-1 Visa holders ready to apply and those who would like to learn more about OPT prior to being eligible to apply. Individuals may also access this information through the FAQ section on OPT in the International Portal. Once eligible students have attended an OPT information session, the F-1 Visa holder may submit their OPT request through the International Portal. The student may not apply for OPT through USCIS until their OPT application through the International Portal has been reviewed and the recommendation has been provided by the DSO. 

F-1 Visa holders completing an F-1 eligible academic program at TWU are able to apply for one year of OPT. F-1 Visa holders completing an F-1 eligible academic program in a STEM field, as designated by the U.S. Department of Education, may also be eligible to apply for a 24 month STEM OPT extension.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate certain countries for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), based on civil, government, or environmental concerns that reduce the safety of the return of an individual to that country. Individuals may pursue an academic program at TWU and have the option to change their status to F-1 Visa holder if eligible. Additional information on TPS guidelines can be found here

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will issue a Federal Register (FR) notice when an event occurs that constitutes emergent circumstances that may financially impact an F-1 Visa holder studying in the U.S. The F-1 Visa holder who is a citizen of the designated country, lawfully resides in the U.S. during the dates specified in the FR, has been enrolled in an SEVP certified school since the event, is maintaining F-1 status, and is experiencing severe economic hardship can apply for Special Student Relief (SSR). More information on SSR can be found here

For additional information on severe economic hardships, F-1 Visa holders can find details about qualifying circumstances, USCIS guidelines, and application criteria here.