Employment

If you want to work while you’re a student at Saint Louis University, you should first meet with your international adviser to understand employment rules for F-1 and J-1 students. Working without proper authorization may result in severe consequences, such as the cancellation of your SEVIS record.

Whether you work on or off campus, you will need to get a Social Security number after you are hired but before you begin to work. 

On-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students may work on campus. This applies to any job at SLU, including those within a college or school, administrative departments, libraries, Simon Rec, etc. You may also work on campus for outside companies that serve SLU students, such as the bookstore or DineSLU.

Hours

Limited to 20 hours per week during normal academic semesters, 40 hours per week during academic breaks. 

More Information

Upon graduation, students are not allowed to work on campus.

Required Steps Before Starting Work
  • Find a job through Handshake or by visiting the department or office where you want to work.
  • If you need a U.S. Social Security card, obtain a job offer letter written in the required format and printed on department letterhead.
  • Turn in your job offer letter to the Office of International Services so we can issue a work-approval letter.
  • Take the two letters, your passport, I-94 record and I-20 or DS-2019 to a Social Security Administration office.
  • Complete HR paperwork.

Economic Hardship

F-1 students are eligible for economic hardship employment authorization, which is special off-campus work permission given through the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Please meet with your international adviser before applying to see if you qualify.

Hours

Limited to 20 hours per week during normal academic semesters, 40 hours per week during academic breaks.

More Information

You must have been enrolled full time for at least one academic year and prove to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control. The work authorization is granted one year at a time or until you complete your study.

Required Steps Before Starting Work
  • Make an appointment with your international adviser.
  • Compile required documents, including a 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; two passport-sized photos; and the application fee  made out to USCIS.
  • Check your mail. If USCIS needs more information to make their decision, it 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 cannot begin working until you receive approval and have received an EAD card. Once you’re approved, you can begin to apply for jobs off campus.

Optional Practical Training

F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of full-time employment off campus to obtain additional training and experience directly related to their major area of study. This is known as Optional Practical Training. Most students wait to use "OPT" after graduation, but it is possible to use it prior to graduation or "pre-completion." 

All international students who want to apply for Optional Practical Training are encouraged to attend an Information and Application Workshop offered by the Office of International Services.

More Information

Eligibility begins only after you have maintained full-time status for at least one academic year. You are not required to have a job offer to apply for Optional Practical Training; however, once you are approved, you should not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment. 

Pre-completion OPT

Pre-completion Optional Practical Training occurs when you are still a student with a full-time course load. You may have part-time employment (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year, and full- or part-time employment during the summer term.

Post-completion OPT

Post-completion Optional Practical Training occurs after you’ve completed your studies. Work authorization is granted after completion of all course studies for full- or part-time employment. Post-completion Optional Practical Training  may be requested no earlier than 90 days before graduation, and no later than 60 days after graduation.

Students with post-completion Optional Practical Training in a field related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics may request an additional 24-month extension.

Required Steps Before Starting Work
Required Steps After Starting Work
Your SEVIS record must be updated so you maintain your visa status. When you receive your EAD, and throughout your time under Optional Practical Training, the Office of International Services will need:
  • A copy of your Employment Authorization Document
  • The 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 United States
  • 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 explaining how your position is related to your field of study. This letter is an important verification for your immigration records.
Travel and OPT
  • We do not recommend traveling outside of the United States while waiting for permission to take part in Optional Practical Training, as you will not be allowed to re-enter the United States without an Employment Authorization Document or a job offer letter.
  • The Office of International Services cannot send Employment Authorization Document cards to students outside of the country.
  • You should discuss all international travel plans with your international adviser.
  • Once your Optional Practical Training is approved, you will still need a travel signature on your I-20.

Curricular Practical Training

F-1 students are eligible for Curricular Practical Training. The training must be either required of all students in your degree program or for earned credit and be stated in the University catalog as an integral part of the established curriculum. This includes off-campus work such as an internship, extended volunteering, practicum or cooperative education program.

Hours

Part-time Curricular Practical Training employment (up to 20 hours per week) is allowed for an unlimited number of semesters with no consequences. Generally, students may not engage in full-time Curricular Practical Training unless they are in their last semester of study. Students must be enrolled full time in classes while doing Curricular Practical Training unless they are in the final semester of their program. Full-time Curricular Practical Training employment (which is defined as work over 20 hours per week) held beyond 12 months will make you ineligible for Optional Practical Training.

More Information

Most students will not be eligible for this training until they have maintained full-time status for at least one academic year. Curricular Practical Training  will only be approved under one of the following circumstances:

  • 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.
Required Steps Before Starting Work
  • Wait for approval. This process typically takes 24 hours after the submission of your application. Upon approval, you will receive a new I-20 with your  authorization listed on page three. You can NOT begin working until you receive your new I-20 with your Curricular Practical Training authorization.

Academic Training

Academic training employment is for students with a J-1 visa. Training must be directly related to the field of study and can occur while you’re a student or beginning no later than 30 days after completion of your studies.

More Information

You must be in good academic standing. 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.

The permitted length of academic training varies based on your academic program and the start/end dates for employment. In general:

  • Non-degree students: 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 written in the required format and printed on company letterhead.
  • Obtain a recommendation letter from your academic adviser stating:
      • Date of completion of studies
      • Goals and objectives of your academic training program
      • Description of your academic training program (including company 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
  • Submit all documents to the Office of International Education prior to the expiration date of your DS-2019 and wait for approval. This process typically takes 24 hours. After you’re approved, you will receive a new DS-2019 with your academic training authorization listed on page one.