Saint Louis University

 

REMEMBER:  ANY off-campus work requires an application through International Services - do not begin working at any off-campus job without first meeting with your International Counselor to ensure you are not violating the law.  Failure to do so can result in severe consequences for your immigration status, including the cancellation of your SEVIS record and a requirement to leave the U.S.

You will need to get a Social Security Number before you begin any work in the United States. 

All forms and applications for the employment options listed below can be found on our Forms page.

The following video outlines important information regarding Work Authorization for International Students:

 

Pick from the following:

On-Campus Employment

Economic Hardship

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Academic Training

 

On-Campus Employment

What: Any job on-campus, including SLU colleges/schools, departments, libraries, Simon Rec, etc.
 

Hours: Limited to 20 hours per week during normal academic semesters, 40 hours per week during summer, winter and spring breaks.
 

Additional Application Required?  No

More Info: F-1 and J-1 students are eligible for on-campus employment. Upon graduation, students are no longer eligible for work without authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Required Steps Before Starting Work:

  • Find a job - Visit departments with your resume to find employment opportunities or explore Careerlink.

  • Obtain a job offer letter - The required format can be found here - share this form with your employer and request it be completed on department letterhead.

  • Obtain a work-approval letter from International Services - Bring your job offer letter to OIS.

  • Apply for a Social Security Number

  • Complete HR paperwork 


 

Economic Hardship 

What: Any kind of off-campus work that is not related to field of study, such as odd jobs in banks, computer companies, factories, restaurants, etc.

Hours: Limited to 20 hours per week during normal academic semesters, 40 hours per week during summer, winter and spring breaks.

Additional Application Required?  Yes - please see your International Counselor.

More info: F-1 students are eligible. Students must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year and must prove to the satisfaction of USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond their control. The work authorization is granted one year at a time or until a student completes his/her study

Required Steps Before Starting Work:

  • Make an appointment with your International Counselor.

  • Compile required application documents - Letter detailing severe economic hardship due to circumstances outside of your control; substantiating documentation; Form I-765; copy of your I-20, passport, visa, and I-94 information ; (2) passport-sized photos; and an application fee of $380 made out to USCIS.

  • Check your mail - If USCIS needs more information to make their decision, they will send you a request in the mail - bring this to your International Counselor immediately.

  • Wait for your approval - Approval can take up to 90 days.  You can NOT begin working until you receive approval and have received an EAD card.


 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What:  Off-campus work such as an internship, extended volunteering, practicum or cooperative education program. The training MUST be for earned credit and an integral part of the established curriculum for the student's program as stated in the degree requirements listed in the University catalog.

Hours:  Can be part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (up to 40 hours per week).  NOTE:  Students can engage in an unlimited number of semesters of part-time CPT employment, as long as their CPT meets one of the requirements outlined below.  However, if students engage in full-time CPT employment, any full-time CPT employment held beyond 12 months will begin reducing the amount of time the student is eligible to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment - see below for more information about OPT.

More info:  F-1 students are eligible. Most students will not be eligible for this training until they have maintained full-time status for at least one academic year. Please note the following three situations that CPT can be approved:

  • It is a required part of the curriculum for all students.
  • It is for academic credit.
  • It is an internship offered under cooperative agreements between an employer and the University through a University cooperative education office.  Students in the John Cook School of Business should consult with the Career Resources Center for support. 
Required Steps Before Starting Work:
  • Wait for your approval - After successfully submitting all required documents and a complete CPT application, you will receive a new I-20 with your CPT authorization listed on page 3.  This process typically takes 24 hours after the submission of your CPT application.  You can NOT begin working until you receive your new I-20 with your CPT authorization.

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What: Up to 12 months of employment off-campus for the purpose of obtaining additional training and experience that will be DIRECTLY related to a student's major area of study.

More info: F-1 students are eligible. Eligibility begins only after the student has maintained full-time status for at least one academic year.  You are not required to have a job offer to apply for OPT; however, once you are approved for OPT, you should not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment.  There are two types of OPT:

  • Pre-completion OPT: Part-time employment limited to 20 hours per week during the normal academic semester while the student maintains a full-time course load (12 hours) OR full/part-time employment during the summer term. Any authorization granted during Pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the total 12 months of eligibility.  
  • Post-completion OPT: Work authorization granted after completion of all course studies for full/part-time employment. Post-completion OPT is granted for a period of up to 12 months minus any period of time authorized during Pre-completion OPT.  
  • STEM Extension: Students that have received post-completion practical training and completed a program in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program may request an additional 17-month extension.
Required Steps Before Starting Work:
  • Wait for your approval:  After successfully submitting all required documents and a complete OPT application, your International Counselor will help you mail your materials to USCIS.  Approval can take up to 90 days.  Once you receive a receipt in the mail, you can track your application status on the USCIS website.  You can NOT begin working until you receive approval and have received an EAD card.

Required Steps After Starting Work:

  • While on OPT, International Services must still maintain your SEVIS record so that you maintain your visa status, therefore you must complete reporting requirements:
    • Copy of your EAD 
    • Name and address of your employer
    • Any change in your employment status
    • Any change in your legal name
    • Any change of your residential address in the U.S.
    • Any change in your immigration status - including a change to a work visa or a return to your home country
  • We recommend asking your employer for a letter that explains how your position is related to your field of study - this letter is an important verification for your immigration records

Important Deadlines:

  • You can apply for Post-completion OPT up to 90 days before your graduation date.
  • The final deadline for applying for Post-completion OPT is 60 days after your graduation date.

Travel and OPT:

  • We do not recommend traveling outside of the U.S. while waiting for OPT if you do not have a job offer letter.
  • If you plan to travel abroad after graduation, you are urged to discuss this with your International Counselor and apply for OPT as early as possible to ensure that you will get the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS office before leaving the United States. You will not be allowed to reenter the USA without an EAD or a job offer letter. The Office of International Services cannot send EAD cards to students overseas.
  • Once your OPT is approved, you still need a Travel Signature on your I-20.

All international students who will be applying for the Post-completion Optional Practical Training are encouraged to attend an OPT Information and Application Workshop offered by the Office of International Services.  Check your SLU e-mail account for notifications of these workshops.


 

Academic Training

What: Training that is directly related to the field of study.  Training can be during the program of study or beginning not later than 30 days after completion of studies.

More info: J-1 students are eligible. Students must be in good academic standing with the institution.  J-1 students are required to have a job offer to apply. If you are sponsored by another organization, you must consult with your J Program Sponsor to obtain the standards for academic training. 

Training length varies based upon academic program and start and end dates for employment, but in general the time limitations are as follows:

  • Non-degree students: Subject to the requirement that time engaged in academic training does not exceed the time spent in study.
  • Undergraduate and pre-doctoral students: 18 months or the period of the full course of study, whichever is less.
  • Post doctoral: Up to 36 months of academic training (inclusive of any prior academic training) or the period of the full course of study, whichever is less. 

Required Steps Before Starting Work:

  • Obtain a job offer letter - The required format can be found here - share this form with your employer and request it be completed on letterhead.
  • Obtain a recommendation letter from your Academic Advisor stating:
    • Date of completion of studies
    • Goals and objectives of your Academic Training program
    • Description of your Academic Training program (including location name and address, supervisor name, number of hours per week, and start/end dates)
    • Description of how the Academic Training relates to your major field of study
    • Explanation of why the Academic Training is an integral or critical part of your program of study
  • Wait for approval - After successfully submitting all required documents, you will receive a new DS-2019 with your Academic Authorization listed on page 1.  This process typically takes 24 hours after the submission of your required documents.