On-Campus Employment

F-1 students may work in any on-campus job (when the payment is from the university). Such work is limited to 20 hours per week during the semester. Full time (anything more than 20 hours per week) is permitted during vacation periods. No special work permission is needed to begin working. However, to receive a Social Security Number (SSN), students must follow the steps on How to Apply for a Social Security Number. Once a student graduates, s/he is no longer authorized for on-campus employment.  If a student is offered a job on campus after graduation, he or she can only work based on practical training work authorization.

Off-Campus Employment
(Eligible Students Only)

F-1 students must have been full time for at least one academic year before obtaining authorization to work off-campus. Work authorization must be recommended by the International Student Advisor and in some cases, approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Students must have approval before working off-campus. The types of off-campus work authorization for F-1 students include:

Practical Training

This type of work authorization allows a student to accept employment in the field of study. The two types of practical training that can be considered by an F-1 student include the following:

Curriclular Practical Training (CPT). This can be used only before the student completes his or her study program and ONLY IF the employment is sponsored by UC Berkeley as an integral part of the student's academic program.

Optional Practical Training (OPT). This type of authorization requires an application to the USCIS after approval from an adviser at Berkeley International Office. The process can take three months or more to issue the work authorization permit. There is a limit of 12 months of full time Optional Practical Training. Some students can extend their OPT with STEM Extension OPT

Economic necessity

If a student shows compelling evidence of unanticipated financial need, the student may be eligible for this type of work authorization. The USCIS applies these standards in a very strict manner, and insists on documented proof of severe and unexpected economic necessity. If permission is granted, students are allowed part-time work during the academic year (not to exceed 20 hrs/wk) and full-time work during the summer and other vacation periods. See an adviser in Berkeley International Office if you feel you qualify for this type of work authorization.