- Alina Selby ’14
- Hometown: Finleyville, PA
- Major: Mechanical engineering
I’ve always been interested in how things work and how I can make things more efficient.
Employment is defined as any type of work performed or service provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or other benefits. If a student does not receive any pay for work performed, this activity is not defined as "employment" but is considered to be "volunteer work." There are some heavy restrictions associated with volunteer work and all F-1 and J-1 students should consult the Center for Global Education staff before accepting any employment in the United States.
Students on F-1 visas are allowed to work on campus at Mount Union, with some restrictions, if they maintain lawful F-1 status and are enrolled in a full course of study (12 credit hours) during the academic year. They may work for an unlimited time period, up to 20 hours per week. They may work full-time during annual vacations and summer breaks.
Time that students spend enrolled in a study abroad program during their course of study will count towards the one-year academic year requirement, as long as the student has spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. Please contact the Center for Global Education staff if you plan to study abroad.
Many students are given Campus Work as a part of their financial aid package. The Campus Work part of your aid package is not deducted from your college bill and is only awarded provided you find a job and work your contracted hours. Students are paid once a month with a check. This check can be transferred toward your Mount Union account, can be cashed, or can be automatically transferred to your local bank account.
Remember: On-campus employment is not guaranteed! If work is part of your financial aid package, it is YOUR responsibility to find a job and work.
Different requirements exist for each type of F-1 employment. This is only a general review of the possibilities and basic rules. A fundamental eligibility requirement for all types of off-campus employment is that a student must be in and must continuously maintain lawful F-1 status for one full academic year prior to undertaking any off-campus employment.
Maintaining eligibility for most types of F-1 employment means that a student must obtain a position related to his/her major and limit his or her work to: 1) no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, or 2) full-time work during school vacation periods.
Students should not assume that they are eligible to work off-campus without first contacting the Director of International Student Services and completing Form I-765, an application for an Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.) with USCIS. The E.A.D. can take up to 90 days to receive. All F-1 students must familiarize themselves with the employment regulations and application procedures by consulting with the Director of International Student Services.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
Students on F-1 visas who are in legal immigration status and have been full-time students for at least one academic year are eligible to apply for up to 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) in a job that is directly related to their major field of study. This must be authorized by the office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). OPT is defined as temporary employment in the student's field of study. Any OPT the student has used prior to degree completion will be deducted from the 12 months of post-completion OPT.
The term "optional" means that students can choose to use all or part of their total practical training allotment of a maximum of 12 months. OPT can be authorized by USCIS: 1) during vacation when school is not in session - full-time employment is allowed; 2) while school is in session - part-time work is permitted, a maximum of 20 hours per week; 3) after completing all course requirements for the degree- full-time employment is allowed.
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered "full-time" OPT. While in full-time OPT (during vacation while school is not in session or post-graduation), the student need not be enrolled in classes to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
Students on F-1 visas who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year are eligible, through authorization by the institution, for either part-time or full-time curricular practical training in one of two ways:
Employment which is part of the degree program - this always meets the requirement for CPT, regardless of whether or not the student receives academic credit for the work.
Employment which is NOT a required part of the degree program - this may meet the requirements for CPT if the student receives academic credit for the employment experience and if it is considered to be an integral part of the student's curriculum.
Students doing part-time CPT must be careful to limit their work to no more than the 20 hours per week. There is no time limitation on a student's particpiation in part-time CPT, but the student must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Students doing full-time CPT may work for more than 20 hours per week and need not be enrolled for classes in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. A student who works full-time in CPT for 12 months or more will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Severe Economic Hardship:
Students on F-1 visas may work off-campus under a "severe economic hardship: exemption." This is defined as a situation that is unforeseen and biyond the student's control. Examples are loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that isnot the student's fault, a significant devaluation of the student's home currency, inordinate increases in tuition, or unexpectied changes in the financial condition of the student's main source of support.
A student meets eligibility based on severe economic hardship as follows: 1) is in good academic standing and is taking a full course load; 2) can demonstrate unforeseen severe economic hardship; 3) employment is not available or is insufficient on-campus; 4) has been in F-1 status for one full academic year, and 5) employment will not interfere with the studies.
An application for this benefit is rather demanding and adjudication will take approximately 90 - 120 days.
Exchange students enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa. At Mount Union, exchange students may be employed on-campus only as foreign language teaching assistants carrying out "academic training."