Advising services and important immigration information on employment for international students can be found below. This information includes information on how you can legally work (on-campus and off-campus) how to apply for a Social Security Number, and US Income Taxes.
It is important for you to understand the immigration rules and regulations; please visit Maintaining Your Status for more information about your responsibilities as an F-1 or J-1 student.
Please read all information carefully before consulting an advisor. If you do not see the answer to your question, please contact the Office of International Programs (OIP) at 312-341-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
USCIS offers several ways for F-1 students to work off-campus. You must have authorization from either USCIS or International Programs before beginning any employment. Please attend an employment workshop to learn more.
You may also schedule an appointment for more information. However, please read the sections below on Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and the 24 Month STEM OPT Extension before making an appointment.
Income taxes are due on April 15 for the proceeding year.
The income tax works hop has been cancelled. Please note I will be sending some information provided from the IRS to you soon as.
Please note that you should file the Tax Form 8843- Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition - if you were in the U.S.A. in 2019 even if you did not work. You should complete this form to show that you are a "non-resident" for tax purposes (an "exempt individual"). This means that you may qualify for tax treaty or other benefits that reduce your tax rate if you are later employed in the USA or have a taxable scholarship. You must submit this form each year to qualify as a "non-resident" for tax purposes. You should file this form during the first 5 years you are in the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 Student.
F-1 students may be authorized for Curricular Practical Training if the employment experience is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT is authorized by International Programs
Some departments have special procedures you must follow to be eligible for CPT. Please contact your academic department to verify their procedures.
In order to apply, students must be enrolled full-time in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. Graduate students whose program requires an immediate internship may be permitted to begin earlier. Students must maintain good academic standing before and during CPT employment.
NOTE: Summer Semester does not count towards the one full academic year requirement.
CPT is limited to part-time (20 hours/week or less) during the academic year (fall and spring semester). It may be authorized full-time* (more than 20 hours/week) during summer and semester breaks.
USCIS does not limit the amount of CPT that may be approved. However, students who use 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
You will receive a new form I-20 showing CPT Employment Authorization on page 2. You should show this authorization to your employer as proof that you are authorized to work.
If your employer has questions about this authorization, they may visit the USCIS to see a list of acceptable documents to verify employment eligibility - click here for more details.
USCIS has also created an Excel spreadsheet that allows users to calculate the amount of OPT available and generate suggested application timeline based on the Program End Date and the desired OPT start date. Click here for the Post-Completion OPT Planning Tool.
You will receive an email notification from DocuSign when the OPT recommendation has been completed and your new I-20 is ready for pick-up. Normal processing time for OPT recommendations is 5-10 business day.
You will be issued two (2) new forms I-20. Submit one (1) form with the OPT application, keep the other form for your records. Please be sure to sign both of your new forms I-20.
USCIS must receive the OPT application no more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation has been issued. Applications received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation will be denied.
The following documents are required to apply for the EAD (OPT work permit). You can find all immigration forms at www.uscis.gov under “Forms and Fees".
Mail the following documents directly to USCIS to apply for the EAD (your OPT card). Do NOT mail the application until after you have received your new I-20 with a recommendation for OPT.
USCIS will mail your EAD card to your home address. If you move and change your address before you receive your EAD card, you must call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to update your address. Mail from USCIS is not forwarded by the US Postal Service, so it is best that you do not change your address while waiting for your EAD.
Please note that you can list a separate mailing address on the I-765 if you think you will be moving before the card arrives. Please visit the USCIS homepage to verify the mailing address.
You may complete the Form G-1145 to request an electronic notification when USCIS receives your application.
Remember, USCIS must receive the OPT application no more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation has been issued. Please send the application in as soon as you have received the recommendation to ensure that your application is properly filed.
You must have your EAD card to begin employment. You can begin working on or after the start date listed on the EAD and may until the end date on the EAD card.
You are still an F-1 Student while you are on OPT. This means that you are still responsible for reporting information to OIP and USCIS. Report your employment and change of address using the SEVP Portal. I also encourage you to report this information to International Programs using the OPT Employment Reporting Form.
Students must also report any changes in their address within 10 days of moving.
You are responsible for reporting any change in the information to International Programs within 10 days of the change. This includes adding an second employer, quitting or losing employment, change of job title, etc. The required information includes the following information:
DHS recommends that students keep clear records for all periods of employment and unemployment during OPT. Students should keep a record of all reports made to the Office of International Programs as well as other proof of employment. The following list contains suggested evidence of employment:
You may be required to prove the existence (or nonexistence) of periods of unemployment in future petitions for immigration benefits; therefore, it is very important to document the start and end dates of any periods of unemployment, along with the employment information above. Remember, this is your responsibility.
Traveling outside of the US while your OPT is pending can be a risky affair with no certainty that you will be allowed back in. After you have received your EAD card there is still a risk of not being permitted back into the US, especially if you are not employed. If travel is necessary, you should carry all of the following documentation with you when traveling:
Note: If you do not possess a current, valid visa at the time of travel, you must apply for a new F-1 visa for re-entry to the US. OIP cannot guarantee re-entry to the USA while on OPT.
The F-1/H-1B “Cap-Gap” occurs when an F-1 student's status expires before they can begin approved H-1B employment in the next fiscal year beginning October 1. The Cap-Gap Extension applies to all F-1 beneficiaries of H-1B and concurrent change of status petitions. Under this rule, F-1 status is extended while the H-1B petition is pending; F-1 students may remain in the U.S. until October 1 of the next fiscal year when their H-1B status begins. The student must have a valid EAD card at the time the H-1B application is submitted to USCIS in April.
Current interpretation of the new provision suggests the extension applies not only to F-1 status, but also to work authorization, through October 1. Limits of OPT unemployment continue through the Cap-Gap Extension period. The Cap-Gap Extension terminates when USCIS rejects, denies, or revokes the H-1B petition. F-1 students may only benefit from automatic Cap-Gap extension if they have not violated their status.
An F-1 student currently engaged in a period of post-completion OPT may be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM extension. Extension applications are accepted only for students currently working on OPT, not from students who are initially applying for post-completion OPT.
The student must have been awarded a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an approved STEM field and work for an E-Verify employer. Students who applied before May 10, 2016 may have been authorized for 17-months. USCIS has created a STEM OPT HUB on the Study in the States webpage. I encourage you to visit this site for more information.
Students who are approved for STEM OPT are responsible for reporting the following information. You are responsible for submitting this information; you will not receive reminders from the International Office.
Please use the Employment Reporting Form to report this information.
Self-Evaluation of your Form I-983 Training Plan (pages 6-7 of the form)
Material changes to, or material deviations from, the your formal training plan. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to
The STEM OPT application must be received by USCIS before the expiration of the current OPT period. Students may apply as early as 90 days before the end of the current OPT period.
Your OPT application must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the issuance of your new STEM OPT I-20. If the application is filed in a timely manner, an 180-day automatic work authorization extension will be granted while the application is pending. It normally takes up to 90 days for USCIS to process STEM OPT extension applications.
If you do not send the application by express mail, you may complete the Form G-1145 to request an electronic notification when USCIS receives your application.
Express mail (DHL, FedEx) and courier deliveries
US Postal Service deliveries*
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S; Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
You may complete the Form G-1145 to request an electronic notification when USCIS receives your application.
Remember, USCIS must receive the 24-month STEM OPT extension request no more than 60 days after the OPT recommendation has been issued. Please send the application in as soon as you have received the recommendation to ensure that your application is properly filed. If the application is filed in a timely manner, an 180-day automatic work authorization extension will be granted while the application is pending. It normally takes up to 90 days for USCIS to process STEM OPT extension applications.
Students in J-1 status may be authorized to participate in Academic Training to gain practical work experience in their field of study. You may be authorized for Academic Training during your program or after you have finished your study. You must receive written approval from International Programs at least two weeks before the program end date on your form DS-2019.
Submit the following documents to the Office of International Programs:
If you are working for the first time in the U.S., you must obtain a Social Security Number for tax purposes. If you already have a Social Security Number, you do not need to apply again. You may only be issued a Social Security Number if you are working legally; you cannot request this number for any other purposes.
When you request work authorization, please notify International Programs that you need a Social Security letter. We will complete the letter at the same time as the work authorization.
Take the following documents to the Social Security Administration Office (click here to find the nearest office):
You will be issued a letter from the Social Security Administration that states you have “applied for a Social Security Number." Your SSN Card will arrive in the mail 4-6 weeks after the application date. Make sure to bring your SSN card to Human Resources when you receive it.
All F1 and J1 students (and their F2 or J2 dependents) are required to file income tax forms for each year they are present in the USA. This is required even if you did not work in the USA. If you are in the U.S. in another immigration status, this information may not apply to you.
Income taxes are due on April 15 in the following year; some years this may be 1-2 days later if April 15 is a weekend or holiday. For example, if you lived in the USA for any part of 2019, you are responsible for filing 2019 income tax forms by Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
You are responsible for completing these forms. Unfortunately, during the "tax season" there is an increased chance of tax scams - the IRS has posted this notice of Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls. Remember, the IRS (or other US Government agencies) does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue; the IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
Representatives from the IRS will be on campus to provide instruction on completing income tax forms. They will discuss the form 8843, 1040-NREZ, and IL 1040. The representative will be available to answer questions time permitting. Please bring your tax information with you (details are in the section on taxes below).
You may wish to use an on-line system to file your taxes. You will be charged a fee for this service. Sprintax is the non-resident partner of TurboTax and can assist you with completing these forms.
You must file the Tax Form 8843 - Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals With a Medical Condition. You are classified as an "Exempt Individual" . You should file this form even if you did not work during the year.
You should complete this form to show that you are a "non-resident" for tax purposes (an "exempt individual"). This means that you may qualify for tax treaty or other benefits that reduce your tax rate if you are employed in the USA or have a taxable scholarship. You must submit this form each year to qualify as a "non-resident" for tax purposes. You should file this form during the first 5 years you are in the U.S. as an F-1 or J-1 Student.
The Tax Form 8843 must be submitted by no later than April 15, 2020.
All international students who worked for any part of the previous year must file the Tax Form 8843 AND U.S. Federal Income Tax Forms (either the 1040NR-EZ or the 1040NR Form).
Most students are considered non-residents for tax purposes. However, you; however, if you have been in the U.S. for more than 5 years, you may need to file as a resident. You can find help to determine your residency for "Tax Purposes" by reviewing Tax Topic 851 - Resident and Nonresident Aliens.
You must also file Illinois State Tax Forms (IL-1040). If you were in the U.S. in a state other than Illinois, you may need to file additional forms.
Please note that some of these forms may not yet be updated for the 2018 tax season, but should be soon!
Please bring any of the following documents that you have been issued if you meet with a tax preparer. You may not have all of these documents. You should have received the appropriate documents by mail or electronically from your employer and/or the university.
As international students and citizens of other countries, your country may have a tax treaty with the USA. You may or may not owe taxes and can often receive substantial refunds of withheld taxes if you file an income tax return. You can find more information on Tax Treaties on the IRS homepage.