F-1 Employment

Employment is defined as providing services to a person, organization, or company in exchange for compensation. This includes not just salary, but other forms of compensation, such as free room and board.

Working without authorization has serious consequences and can impact your ability to study, travel, or work in the U.S. throughout your life. After reviewing employment information on our website, students are encouraged to contact a DSO for further advice.

F-1 students may also be eligible to work off-campus on a case-by-case basis as a result of special situations such as severe economic hardship or special student relief. Please check what you are eligible for.  

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

For more detailed information and instruction on OPT and STEM OPT Extension application, please check out OPT Handbook for F-1 Students.

We strongly encourage you to apply ONLINE. Click here for online OPT and STEM OPT application guidance.

OPT is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level. You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full 12 months to use after you complete your studies.

Authorization for OPT is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and can take at least 90 days to obtain. You may apply up to 90 days before your program end date listed on your I-20 or within your 60-day grace period. Please note, the later you apply the more likely it is you will lose OPT work time. OPT has to be completed within 14 months of your program end date.

Eligibility Requirements, to be eligible to apply for OPT, you must:

  • Have been in full-time student status for at least one full academic year.
  • Maintain a valid F-1 status at the time of the application.
  • Intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.
  • Students enrolled in English language training programs are not eligible for OPT.

For more detailed information and instruction on OPT and STEM OPT Extension application, please check out OPT Handbook for F-1 Students.


If you have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization if you:

  • Are currently participating in a regular period of OPT (Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on your STEM degree)
  • Are an F-1 student who received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List.,
  • Are employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify
  • Have completed and signed the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
  • For more information about the specific eligibility requirements for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please visit the STEM OPT Hub on Study in the States.
  • If you are interested in applying for a STEM OPT extension, please see USCIS  Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page for more information.

Note: You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 24-month extension petition is pending if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
  • You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.

We strongly encourage you to apply ONLINE. Click here for online OPT and STEM OPT application guidance.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is designed to fulfill the internship requirement of a course of study. It is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience for which the student receives class credit.

  • Students can work up to 20 hours per week during school and up to 40 hours per week during vacation.
  • Students must be in F-1 status for nine months before applying.
  • SEVIS authorization is required. Follow these steps in order to apply for CPT:
  • Complete a Request for Work Authorization form by stating internship course number and receiving a signature from your academic advisor.
  • Obtain a letter from the employer stating job title, dates of employment, number of hours per week, place of employment and a brief description of the work.
  • After submitting your documentation to IPS, your international student advisor will update the report for your employment and issue you a new I-20.
  • Important: CPT must be reported by your international student advisor BEFORE you begin your internship.


Economic Hardship

If you are suffering severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus.

To be eligible for Economic Hardship employment authorization, you must document that:

  • You have been in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (two semesters). 
  • You are experiencing economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances (see below) that arose after you obtained F-1 status. 
  • You are currently in good academic standing and are carrying a full course load. 
  • Part-time Canadian border commuter students are not eligible for Economic Hardship work authorization. 
  • Employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient. 
  • Acceptance of employment will not interfere with your full-time study.

Application Process

  1. Requesting the Economic Hardship I-20
  • Update your emergency contact, local address, permanent address, and phone number with the DSO
  • Personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation; address the letter to the USCIS;
  • Describe the facts that led to the problem, explain the difficult situation that could not be avoided and how you are not at fault, and present a reasonable plan that is short-term and designed to get you out of financial and academic trouble.
  • Include a statement about how this employment will not impact ability to maintain a full course load in the future. If you have experience managing course work and on-campus employment mention that.
  • Elaborate on why other on-campus jobs are not available
  • If choosing a start date earlier than the published processing times, indicate that you accept a change in authorization dates due to adjudication. 
  • Evidence / documentation of your economic hardship. Examples of such evidence include: 
    • Copies of past and present currency exchange charts showing the devaluation of your country's currency
    • Proof (signed letters, affidavits, bank statements) of unexpected changes in the financial situation of your sponsor 
    • Copies of medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses 
    • A letter from your department verifying that your assistantship has been unexpectedly terminated 
  • Documentation of your current expenses. For example: 
    • Proof of tuition bill payment 
    • Apartment lease or cost of living on campus 
    • Utility bills 
    • Any other significant expenses (books, medical expenses, etc.) 
      • Completed Form G-1145(E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance)
      • Requested employment start and end date. This information can be sent via e-mail to the ISS Advisor assisting you with your Economic Hardship application.

When your application is complete, International Affairs will enter your Economic Hardship application into the SEVIS system, and produce a new I-20 with the Economic Hardship recommendation.

  1. Applying with USCIS

International Affairs recommends that you submit the following documents to the USCIS:

  • Original Form I‑765. 
  • Don't forget to sign and include all seven pages! 
  • Be sure to also carefully review the USCIS instructions
  • Form G-1145
  • Application fee of $410.
  • This should be a check (from a U.S. bank) or a U.S. money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. 
  • Write the 11-digit number from your I-94 on your check or money order. 
  • Don’t forget to sign and date the check.
  • If you intend to file for a Fee Waiver (Form I-912), then we recommend that you carefully review the eligibility requirements found on the USCIS website. If you request a fee waiver and are denied, you will be required to submit a new application with the appropriate fee. This will add significant processing time to your application. 
  • Photocopy of pages 1 and 2 of your new Economic Hardship endorsement I‑20
  • Don’t forget to sign and date the Student Attestation section of your I-20. If you forget, USCIS will return your OPT application to you.
  • Photocopies of all previous I‑20's. Do not send originals!
  • Your cover letter explaining your situation (as described above). 
  • Letter of support from KSU International Affairs. Your DSO will provide this letter after you submit a complete application to International Affairs.
  • Documentation of the unforeseen change in your financial circumstances. 
  • Two (2) identical natural color photographs of yourself, taken within 30 days of your application and not previously used for another purpose.
  • Please review the specifications for the photos.  
  • If your photos do not meet USCIS requirements exactly, your EAD card will not be issued.
  • In pencil, write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo.
  • Photos can be taken at most drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid).
  • Photocopy of your current, valid passport(biographic and photo pages) and U.S. visa stamp in your passport.   
  • Canadian citizens do not have visa stamps.
  • Photocopy of the front and back of your newest I-94 Card OR print-out of electronic I-94(available on CBP's website).


Where do I send my Economic Hardship application?

Visit the USCIS I-765 Direct Filing Address for the current lockbox mailing address. Be sure to click on "Foreign Students".

You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application. Utilizing an express delivery service will enable you to track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.

How long will processing at the USCIS take?

Processing time at the USCIS is estimated to be 90-120 days. However, processing times vary widely, depending on the time of year and workload at the Service Center to which you send your application.

You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective. 

  1. After USCIS Approval

If your application is approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD card”) from the USCIS Service Center.

You must submit a copy of your EAD card to International Affairs for record.

Important Reminders

  • Economic Hardship Employment Authorization is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during school breaks. 
  • Economic Hardship employment authorization is normally issued for one year. You may submit a request to the USCIS for renewal of work authorization by following the same procedures outlined above. The earliest you may request a renewal is 180 days before your current EAD expires. Please remember to send a copy of your current EAD along with the other documents listed above to the USCIS. 
  • Employment authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, transfer to another university or violate your F-1 status in any way (e.g. not registering as a full-time student).


Special Student Relief (SSR) 

“Special Student Relief (SSR) is a suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an F-1 student from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances.”

When the Department of Homeland Security issues a Federal Register Notice authorizing special student relief, students are allowed to apply for work authorization and, once approved, may enroll in fewer credits each semester.

Please contact your DSO for more information.

  • Student must be a citizen of a country specified in a Federal Register Notice.
  • Have lawfully resided in the U.S. for the dates indicated in the Federal Register Notice.
  • Have reported “on time” to ISS and maintained full-time enrollment at University of Washington.
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status as students, not on post-completion practical training.
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the emergent circumstances in their country of citizenship.


At present, there are active SSR programs for the following. Click on the country / region name to access the official Federal Register announcement for Special Student Relief.

SSR Programs

Most Recent Effective Start Date*

End Date

Afghanistan (citizens); extended on 9/25/23

May 22, 2022; Sept. 25, 2023

November 23, 2023; May 25, 2025

Burma / Myanmar (citizens)

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2024

Cameroon (citizens)

June 7, 2022

December 7, 2023

Ethiopia (citizens)

December 12, 2022

June 12, 2024

Haiti (citizens)

January 26, 2023

August 3, 2024

Hong Kong (residents)

January 26, 2023

February 5, 2025


March 18, 2023

September 17, 2024

Syria (citizens)

April 22, 2021

April 1, 2024

Venezuela (citizens)

April 22, 2021

September 9, 2022

Yemen (citizens)

January 3, 2023

September 3, 2024

South Sudan (citizens)

March 3, 2022

November 3, 2023

Sudan (citizens)

October 20, 2023

April 19, 2025

Ukraine (citizens), extension 8/21/2023

April 19, 2022; extended on August 21, 2023

October 19, 2023; extended to April 19, 2025

Sudan (citizens)

April 19, 2022

October 19, 2023

We recommend that students who are interested in applying for Special Student Relief meet with DSO at the International Student Advising and Transition Services (ISATS). After meeting with the DSO, they will need to follow the steps listed below to file an application with USCIS.

Step 1: Request an I-20 from ISATS

Please contact the Office of International Student Advising and Transition Services (ISATS) to meet with a DSO. When meeting with a DSO, please provide information about your circumstances why you need to apply for SSR.

Step 2: Gather needed documents/materials

Your application must include the following documentation for USCIS.

  • I-20 with Special Student Relief recommendation.
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy of U.S. visa from passport
  • Copy of most recent I-94 record
  • Two passport photos
  • Payment for USCIS ($410) or the Form I-912 requesting the fee waiver
  • Letter to USCIS indicating that states how the situation in your home country has impacted you and how special student relief will help you moving forward

Step 3: Submit your application to USCIS

Submit your I-765 application to USCIS.

Step 4: Authorization

Wait for your authorization from USCIS. Once you receive your authorization, you may begin to work.  Please let the ISATS DSO know when you receive your approval.