F-1 Student Employment

The following information is intended only as reference about employment and training for students with an F-1 visa type. If you have specific questions or concerns, speak directly with an international student advisor in International Student Services (ISS).

There are three types of employment that an F-1 visa holder may pursue. The Department of Homeland Security has very strict regulations governing the employment opportunities for F-1 visa holders. Always obtain authorization before commencing employment. There are serious visa consequences for unauthorized employment.

Please read the Interim Policy  (effective Jan. 27, 2014) regarding work permission carefully so you're informed of ISS' interpretation of the regulations and the consequences for any violations.

On-Campus Employment

An F-1 student, properly maintaining visa status, may work on campus:

  • 20 hours per week during the academic year and or full-time during designated vacation periods determined by ISS.
  • As long as the employment does not take a job away from a U.S. resident
  • As long as the employment does not interfere with the academic program.

On-campus employment is work performed on the Case Western Reserve University campus and compensated by the university. An on-campus employer might be an academic department or the bookstore, for example.

Students working in paid positions through the Office of Student Employment must complete an application for permission for hourly work to be properly authorized by ISS.

Students who receive scholarships, fellowships or assistantships with work components are also considered to be working on campus; however, they are not required to complete the application for permission for hourly work because their employment is managed by Graduate Student Payroll.

Work at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with CWRU may also be considered on-campus. This affiliation must be associated with CWRU's established curriculum or be related to a contractually funded graduate level research project which a program or department at CWRU has agreed to perform. Such employment must be an integral part of the student's program of study. Students should consult with an international student advisor about such an opportunity before commencing work to be sure that it meets the government’s definition of on-campus employment. In most cases, off-campus work authorization will be recommended for the student.

Complete the application for permission for hourly work on campus and bring the completed form to International Student Services. After 48 business hours you can pick up the additional paperwork completed by ISS.

This paperwork will provide your work authorization and must be taken to the Office of Student Employment for processing before you begin working.

Work permission is granted for up to one year. It is renewable throughout a student’s final semester so long as status is being properly maintained.

If you are already working for your department and being paid by Graduate Payroll because you receive a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship, you may not be eligible for additional on-campus work permission.

Remember, you’re limited to working 20 hours per week during the academic year.

In order for ISS to determine your eligibility, a department representative will need to verify your present working commitments and sign off on the application for permission for hourly work on campus. An advisor in ISS will evaluate the information and advise you accordingly.

If you work on campus without proper work authorization, that's a serious problem. 

ISS has a policy outlining how we handle work authorization violations and the serious consequences of this action. 

Practical Training

Practical Training is a type of work authorization for F-1 students and is intended to provide hands-on practical experience in situations that supplement and complement a student’s academic program.

There are two types of practical training: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).

F‑1 students may not engage in practical training unless they have been in lawful full-time status for a full academic year (both fall and spring semesters). The only exception to this requirement is for curricular practical training for those in a graduate program that requires that such training be undertaken earlier.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular practical training (CPT) must be an integral part of an established curriculum.

At CWRU, one of the following academic objectives must be met in order to be eligible for CPT:

  • The experience must be required to complete graduation requirements.
  • The experience must be through an institutionally sponsored cooperative education or practicum program.

After submitting a timely, complete application, an international student advisor in ISS will evaluate the materials and determine a student’s eligibility. Authorized students will receive a new I-20 with a CPT endorsement. An authorized student may only work for the employer and at the location during the time listed on the I-20.

Students must complete one academic year (both fall and spring semesters) before becoming eligible for CPT (unless the work is required by the graduate academic program prior to that).

Whether or not a student will be authorized depends on whether their experience aligns with the academic objects of the university and if they submit a timely, complete application to ISS for processing.

Part-time CPT authorization has no impact on a student’s future eligibility for optional practical training (OPT); however, authorization for 12 or more months of full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT will result in the loss of OPT eligibility.

Students are required to complete a workshop prior to submitting their request for CPT authorization. For each CPT authorization request, a student must complete a workshop!

Workshops can be completed either in-person or online. In-person workshops will be scheduled throughout the year and ISS will inform students of the schedule through ISSNews.

The online workshop can be accessed here at any time. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully and to complete the CPT Assessment as part of the online workshop.

Remember, ISS only accepts complete applications and your application is not considered complete unless you can prove that you have fulfilled the workshop requirement. 

Once ISS has all of the required paperwork, we can create an I-20 in three to five business days. We do not expedite applications and recommend applying as far in advance as possible in case further review and documents are required.

No, regulations do not indicate that there must be monetary compensation in order to qualify for CPT. CPT is authorized based on meeting the academic objectives and submitting a timely filed application.

If you are receiving compensation for approved CPT, you will need to have a Social Security Number (SSN). Visit our Employment/Training page for details on how to obtain an SSN.

It depends. Stop in to Tomlinson Hall, Room 143, during walk-in hours or set up an appointment to meet with an advisor to discuss your specific situation.

Part-time CPT authorization has no impact on a student’s future eligibility for OPT; however, authorization for 12 or more months of full-time (more than 20 hours per week) CPT will result in the loss of OPT eligibility. ISS makes efforts to ensure that a student does not use or exceed 12 months of full-time CPT; however, it’s ultimately the student’s decision about submitting CPT requests and at ISS’ discretion to authorize them.

CPT is meant to serve as an integral part of a student's curriculum; it is not a mechanism by which students can focus on work prior to graduation. ISS evaluates every student's application thoroughly and will not authorize requests that seem to misrepresent the intention of CPT.

If you work before obtaining proper authorization and receiving an I-20 from ISS (you must have the CPT I-20 in your possession when you commence work) you have violated your visa status.

The consequences of violating your visa status are outlined in ISS’ policy. Working illegally has serious consequences, including the termination of visa status.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined as temporary employment directly related to an F-1 student's major area of study. OPT is a continuation of a student's F-1 student visa status.

Students in F-1 status must be lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year before they are eligible for OPT. Students who have been authorized for 12 or more months of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT.

Optional practical training is initially limited to a total of 12 months for use during (pre-completion) and after (post-completion) the completion of their program. Students may be authorized for more than one 12-month period as long as they're advancing their education from one educational level to a higher one as they complete their studies. Students who have completed coursework in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field designated by the Department of Homeland Security are also eligible for the 24-month extension of their OPT.

Students may choose to pursue pre-completion and/or post-completion OPT. As the regulations governing each type of OPT are quite distinct, it’s imperative that students consider their goals carefully before pursuing authorization.

Pre-completion OPT Post-completion OPT
  • Full-time enrollment in coursework is required.
  • 20 hours/week limit while school is in session and student still has coursework to complete but full-time employment can be requested for pre-completion OPT done during official school breaks and when students have completed all requirements for their degree except for thesis or dissertation.*
  • Is not subject to the unemployment provisions.
  • May receive a program extension.
  • May not apply for the STEM extension from a period of pre-completion OPT.
  • Would not be eligible for the cap-gap extension of OPT.
  • Completion of all degree requirements*
  • Must work at least 20 hours/week.
  • Is subject to the unemployment provisions.
  • May not receive an extension of his or her program.
  • May apply for the STEM extension if otherwise eligible.
  • Would be eligible for the cap-gap extension.

* Graduate students who have completed all regular coursework and have only thesis/dissertation requirements may apply for post-completion OPT so long as they are certain that they will complete all degree requirements during the time that they are authorized for OPT. Graduate students in STEM fields will maintain their eligibility for the STEM extension. Please consult an international student advisor after you’ve attended a required OPT workshop if you have questions.

To ensure that students are prepared to properly maintain status during an authorized period of OPT and are well-informed about processing times and ISS procedures regarding OPT, ISS requires all students intending to apply for OPT to complete an OPT workshop.

It takes about 90 days for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to authorize an OPT application, so students always need to plan ahead. Typically students apply for OPT during their final semester by working through the proper procedures established by ISS.

Never submit any part of an OPT application to USCIS electronically!

ISS will only accept complete applications from students who have successfully completed a required workshop. After completing a workshop, download the F-1 Optional Practical Training application. Read all of the information carefully and follow the detailed instructions provided about all of the required materials.

Effective January 2, 2018, a non-refundable $100 administrative fee payment will be due as part of a complete OPT application. Payment must be made by credit card here before visiting ISS to submit your application. You must be prepared to show proof of payment by printing out a copy of the receipt sent to your email address.

Keep in mind that ISS will only accept complete application materials from the student applying, and ISS will only return the newly prepared I-20 and completed application to the student applying.

The first step in the application process is to complete a workshop during the semester that you plan to apply for OPT. These workshops are designed to educate students about the application process and their responsibilities to maintain their F-1 status while authorized for OPT.

ISS offers in-person workshops. ISS highly recommends that students attend an in-person workshop hosted by an ISS staff member! Workshops are offered at various times and locations across campus throughout the year. Workshop dates are intentionally and strategically planned based on the 90-day application window that USCIS permits and the academic calendar’s graduation dates. Students are informed in a timely manner about scheduled in-person workshops each semester through ISSNews. Registration is required to attend an in-person workshop. The instructions about how to register are always included as part of the messaging in ISSNews, as are ISS’s expectations for participating students to fulfill the workshop requirement.

ISS also offers an online workshop. Completing the online workshop consists of first viewing the OPT presentation and then submitting responses to the OPT Online Training that demonstrate understanding of the complex protocol and requirements regarding OPT and maintaining status. Students who complete an online workshop but who ISS determines need more assistance will need to complete an in-person workshop. The online workshop tools are available year-round; however, students can only access and submit the online training once to fulfill the workshop requirement. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully. Additional detailed instructions about the online workshop will be provided in ISSNews throughout the year.

USCIS requires students to include an I-20 with an OPT endorsement on it as part of the application. ISS will only process this OPT I-20 for students who have properly completed a workshop and are prepared to submit applications that are 100% complete. Applications that lack required information or documentation will not be accepted by ISS and will be returned to the student to resubmit after all missing documentation is in order. ISS will only accept complete application materials from the student applying and ISS will only return the newly prepared I-20 and completed application to the student applying.

Yes. USCIS changes forms, regulations and procedures as they please. You will need to attend a workshop during the semester that you plan to complete your program to ensure that you’re well-informed about the current process and your responsibilities as an F-1 student.

Students must submit their most current I-94 as part of the application for OPT, which proves that they’re physically present in the U.S. at the time that they submit an application. Applying for OPT from outside the U.S. is not an option.

Applying from another state is not ideal, but does not make you ineligible for OPT. ISS works very closely with students to ensure that their application process is as smooth as possible. It’s difficult to work with students who are not on campus and able to be physically present during the application process; it can actually cause significant delays in submitting your application to USCIS for processing.

If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from being physically present on campus when applying for OPT, contact ISS and speak with an advisor as soon as possible so that both you and the advisor can plan accordingly.

You must decide on a start date before ISS can create your I-20. Once you send your completed application to USCIS and are in possession of that new I-20, you cannot change your start date.

When USCIS receives the application, you will receive an email or text confirmation. A paper receipt (I-797C) will follow. A student in possession of the receipt notice from USCIS Regional Processing Centers can check the application status on the USCIS website. All receipt numbers start with three letters (for example, LIN or WAC).

The online system provides the same information that can be obtained by using the Service Center phone numbers and is updated whenever there is a change to the application's status. ISS recommends creating an account on the website so that students can enter their receipt numbers and "Opt In" to receive auto-updates via email or text (or both) as updates become available.

ISS does not recommend that students travel after completing a program and while their applications are being processed. All officers at U.S. Ports of Entry have been told to enforce a regulation requiring that students reentering the U.S. be able to present their:

  1. passport valid for at least six months into the future,
  2. valid I-20 with OPT recommendation on it and a travel signature that's fewer than six months old,
  3. valid visa,
  4. employment authorization document (EAD),
  5. and a letter from their employer indicating that they will "begin their employment."

If a student's application is still in process upon reentering the US, the student will not be able to present the required EAD and may be denied reentry.

If a student must travel abroad and cannot produce all items, please consult with an advisor at ISS before departing.

Remember, students are not authorized to work until they have the EAD in their possession and the authorization dates on the EAD are valid. If a student works prior to receiving the EAD or prior to the authorization dates listed on the EAD, this is a violation of visa status and labor law. This is grounds for the termination of the student's visa status and the employer could face serious consequences for having employed someone who is ineligible to work in the US.

When the card arrives, please bring the card itself or a photocopy of the card to the ISS Office so that a copy of the EAD can be kept on file. If a student uses ISS' mailing address to have the card delivered, ISS will take the required copy either at the time that the student picks it up from the office or at the time that the student requests that it be mailed to an address of their choosing.

When a student has secured OPT employment (in the field of study and working for at least 20 hours per week), ISS must be notified. Students must complete the "Update My OPT Information" form on the ISS OrgSync page to report this important information. This link should also be used to update a change in personal address, report a change in your employer's information, or to confirm that a student has departed the US and no longer wish to remain in F-1 status on OPT.

Remember, in order to properly maintain status while authorized for OPT, a student must never be unemployed for more than 90 days. If a student is unemployed for more than 90 days, that's a violation of visa status. USCIS tracks students' employment status based on the information that's entered in SEVIS. ISS updates SEVIS based on the information that students provide. SEVP recommends that students report changes within 10 business days to avoid situations where a government official may determine the student to be out of status. Based on that guidance, ISS encourages students to report changes in personal contact information and employment to ISS as soon as possible. It is very important that students promptly report this information to ISS; students risk violating their visa status if this required information is not properly documented.

Students intending to travel during processing of their OPT application should be aware that the USCIS may consider their departure from the U.S. an abandonment of the application. There is no way of predicting this; students choosing to travel are making the choice of possibly forfeiting their OPT employment eligibility.

It may also depend on the particular application and the timing of travel travel.

If you are a student who has applied for OPT and will return to the U.S. before the program end date listed on the I-20, it should be possible to travel. You’re still considered an enrolled student, so having applied for OPT has no effect on your travel plans.

If you are a student who has applied for OPT and will returned to the U.S. after the program end date listed on the I-20, don’t travel unless you are prepared! You are now maintaining your F-1 status by complying with all OPT regulations. Upon re-entry, you must be able to present:

  • Valid passport and visa
  • Valid I-20 with a travel signature not more than six months old. If you need to obtain a new one and are not in Cleveland, contact international@case.edu.
  • Offer letter of employment either stating start date or presuming date of employment
  • EAD Card

Yes, but you must carry the following documents with you in order to reenter the United States:

  • Valid passport and visa
  • Valid I-20 with a travel signature not more than 6 months old. If you need to obtain a new one and are not in Cleveland, contact international@case.edu.
  • Offer letter of employment either stating start date or presuming date of employment
  • EAD Card

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension

The OPT STEM Extension is 24 months of additional work authorization that qualified F-1
students may choose to pursue if they are currently engaged in post-completion Optional
Practical Training (OPT) based on a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree.


Students can benefit from 2-lifetime STEM OPT periods so long as the degree that serves as the
basis for a second lifetime STEM OPT Extension is at a higher educational level than the degree
that served as the basis for the first authorization.


For more about the STEM Extension and the application process, we hope this presentation is
helpful.

STEM Extension authorization is adjudicated by USCIS, just like the first 12 months of OPT authorization. Ultimately it is USCIS’ decision to authorize or deny OPT STEM Extension requests.

Students applying for a STEM Extension may qualify if:

  • their most recently conferred degree (bachelor, master, or doctorate level) as listed on their current I-20 is in a DHS STEM-Designated Degree Program.
  • they have completed all coursework requirements in a DHS STEM-Designated Degree Program and are currently completing the thesis/dissertation requirement for their current degree (bachelor, master, or doctorate level) as listed on their current I-20.
  • they have a prior degree (at the bachelor, master, or doctorate level) in a DHS STEM-Designated program that was conferred within the last 10 years from a SEVP certified school and will be pursuing employment during the 24 month STEM period that is directly related to the prior degree’s field of study.

Other requirements to qualify for the STEM Extension are focused on the employer and category of employment. They include:

  • the student's employer must be registered in E-Verify and they represent a bona fide employer-employee relationship.
  • a complete Form I-983 must be on file with ISS and the student and employer must agree to report to ISS when the student is terminated or leaves employment.

There are several employment reporting requirements to maintain F-1 status while authorized for a STEM Extension. Please read on for more information about the I-983 and its requirements.

  • 20 or more hours of work each week in a position directly related to the STEM field of study and designated as an allowable employment arrangement that demonstrates a bona fide employer-employee relationship.
  • A bona fide employer-employee relationship is not expressly defined by the regulations; however, the Department of Homeland Security offers an interpretation where,

"students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience."

  • Based on this interpretation, certain types of employment arrangements would not qualify for a STEM Extension:
    • Employment through “temp” agencies
    • Employment through consulting firm
    • Employment as an independent contractor or work for hire
    • Employment through sole proprietorship

If you are employed through one of these arrangements and apply for a STEM Extension, your application may be denied. Please consult with ISS if you have questions.

Students must apply for the STEM OPT Extension before their post-completion OPT expires. Waiting too long to apply could result in the denial of the extension. Students applying for a STEM Extension must submit applications to USCIS so that they are processed while still authorized for post-completion OPT. STEM Extensions received after the expiration of the current OPT and during the student's grace period will be denied.

USCIS will accept STEM OPT Extension applications up to 90 days prior to the current OPT period expiring. ISS processing for STEM Extension requests, which includes generating a new I-20, takes 10 to 15 business days. Students are encouraged to apply earlier rather than later because of the timing. Waiting too long to apply could result in the denial of the extension. Please direct all questions about the STEM Extension to ISS.

Never submit an application to USCIS electronically; always work with ISS through this application process.

The documentation that students prepare for a STEM Extension is similar what was done for the first OPT application:

  • Completed G-1145 form download from www.uscis.gov
  • Check or money order for $410 made payable to “The Department of Homeland Security”
  • Two (2) passport-size photos taken within the last 30 days with the student’s name printed on the back of each. Old photos will cause an application to be returned!
  • Completed 1-765. Be sure to complete all items related to the e-verified employer’s information and the STEM degree. (c ) (3) (c ) is the Eligibility Category for a STEM OPT Extension.
  • Copies of ALL I-20s arranged from newest to oldest.
    • Copy pages 1 and 3 only of any I-20 issued prior to July, 2015.
    • Copy pages 1 and 2 of any NEW FORMAT I-20 issued on or after July, 2015
  • Copy of I-94 admission record downloaded from i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. If a student has not traveled since May 2013 and still has a paper I-94, copy the front AND back.
  • Copy of the current F-1 visa
  • Copy of biographical page from valid passport
  • Copy of current OPT card (front and back)
  • Copy of the diploma or copy of the transcripts if the student is still pursuing a degree.

In addition to these documents, a complete Form I-983 Training Plan is essential to the 24-month STEM OPT Extension. This document does not get submitted with the application materials sent to USCIS, but must be submitted to ISS and kept on file. For more information about the Form I-983, please continue reading.

Effective January 2, 2018, a non-refundable $175 administrative fee payment will be due as part of a complete OPT STEM Extension application. Payment must be made by credit card to CaseAbroad.com before submitting your application to ISS. You must be prepared to show proof of payment by uploading a copy of the receipt sent to you via email.

For more about the STEM Extension and the application process, we hope this presentation is helpful.

Once all of the materials are in order, students may request the STEM Extension I-20 from ISS 90 days prior to their current OPT expiring. Students make the request by accessing the Quick Link on the homepage called "Request a STEM Extension." Step by step instructions about what materials to upload and information about what students can expect from ISS during the review process are all provided. Keep in mind that ISS will only process I-20s based on complete applications. Your application is not considered complete until all materials, including proof of having paid the non-refundable $175 administrative fee, are uploaded properly. Administrative fee payments can be made at CaseAbroad.com.

Processing for STEM Extension I-20s takes 10 to 15 business days so students are encouraged to apply earlier rather than later. Waiting too long to apply could result in the denial of the extension. Please direct all questions about the STEM Extension to ISS. Never submit an application to USCIS electronically; always work with ISS through this application process.

When the new I-20 is ready, ISS will contact students by email with instructions about how to collect it in person or have it sent by FedEx. ISS will only return the newly prepared I-20 to the student applying by one of these methods.

As part of that email notification, ISS will include information about how to organize the application materials, where to send it for processing by USCIS, and when to comply with required reporting requirements.

The Form I-983 Training Plan is essential to the 24-month STEM OPT Extension.

The student and the employer complete a Form I-983 Training Plan, and the student submits the completed plan to ISS as part of the application process for the STEM Extension. ISS reviews the Form I-983 submitted by the student, and determines that it is "complete, signed, and addresses all program requirements."

ISS is not responsible for determining the accuracy or correctness of the information provided on the I-983. The student and employer are responsible for providing accurate and true information and abiding by the terms and conditions of the Form I-983 as set forth in the regulations and on the Form I-983 and Form I-983 instructions.

Form I-983 consists of seven pages:

Page Description Completed/Signed By
1 Section 1- Student Information Completed by Student
1 Section 2 - Student Certification Signed by Student
2 Section 3 - Employer Information Completed by Employer
2 Section 4 - Employer Certification 1 Signed by Employer
3-4 Section 5 - Training Plan for STEM OPT Students Completed by Student and Employer
4 Section 6 - Employer Official Certification Signed by Employer
5 Legal Authorities Language n/a
6 Evaluation on Student Progress (12 month evaluation) Completed by Student, Signed by Student and Employer
7 Final Evaluation on Student Progress (concluding evaluation) Completed by Student, Signed by Student and Employer

Here are some resources that we hope will be helpful when completing the Form I-983 Training Plan:

SEVIS Help Hub resources:

Material changes or deviations to Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change of the employer’s IRS Employer Identification Number, (EIN - the company’s Federal Tax ID number) resulting from a change in the employer’s ownership or structure, such as a corporate restructuring.
  • Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
  • Any significant decrease in the number of hours of work per week that was specified on the Form I-983.
  • Any decrease in hours of work that would reduce the student's total hours with that employer to less than 20 hours per week.
  • Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.

The kinds of changes that will require a modified Form I-983 are not limited to the above list. Reporting material changes to the training plan keeps students and employers accountable to the original Form I-983 and ensures that ISS and DHS have access to accurate information about STEM OPT students.

ISS has generated a chart to help students better understand the reporting requirements.

Study in the States also offers a chart that helps explain the many requirements that students must address and when.

If there are material changes to or deviations from the training plan as described in the Form I-983 that ISS has on file during the course of the 24-month STEM OPT Extension period, the student and employer must complete and sign a modified training plan reflecting the those changes. The student and employer are then jointly responsible for submitting the modified Form I-983 to ISS as soon as possible.

It is not the ISS’ responsibility to be proactive with material changes. It is the student's responsibility to provide changes in information, and failure to do so would constitute a violation of the student's F-1 status.

Students can report material changes to ISS using the “Update my OPT Information” Form.

ISS has generated a chart to help students better understand the reporting requirements.

Students can report material changes to ISS using the “Update my OPT Information” Form.

Below are some key reminders for students and their employers:

Students must submit to ISS:

  • The required six-month validation report occurs during months 6, 12, 18, and 24 of the students authorization period and must be submitted to ISS within 10 business days of each six-month validation due date.
    After receiving the student's validation report, ISS must update SEVIS no sooner than 15 days before and no later than 31 days after each 6-month reporting due date.
  • Any changes to the following, must be submitted to ISS within 10 days of the change:
    • student's legal name
    • mailing and physical addresses
    • When the student stops working for an employer
    • When the student starts working for a new qualifying employer
  • ISS will update SEVIS within 21 days of receiving notification of the above changes from the student.
  • Required self-evaluations must be submitted no later than 10 days following the end of any employment opportunity, in addition to the 12 and 24- month marks from the start of the authorized STEM Extension period.
  • Material change to the training plan described on the Form I-983 by submitting a modified Form I-983 to ISS as soon as possible.
    ISS retains students’ self evaluations and versions of Form I-983 for a period of 3 years following the completion of each STEM Extension authorization.

The employer must report to ISS:

  • When a student is terminated or leaves employment, within 5 business days of the termination or departure.
    ISS will update SEVIS when required within 21 days of receiving notification of these changes.
  • When there has been a material change to the training plan described on the Form I-983 on file with the DSO, by submitting a modified Form I-983 to the ISS, "at the earliest available opportunity." This is a shared obligation with the student to submit a modified Form I-983.
    ISS retains students’ self evaluations and versions of Form I-983 for a period of 3 years following the completion of each STEM Extension authorization.

When USCIS receives the application, you will receive an email or text confirmation. A paper receipt (I-797C) will follow. A student in possession of the receipt notice from USCIS Regional Processing Centers can check the application status on the USCIS website. All receipt numbers start with three letters (for example, YSC or WAC).

The online system provides the same information that can be obtained by using the Service Center phone numbers and is updated whenever there is a change to the application's status. ISS recommends creating an account on the website so that students can enter their receipt numbers and "Opt In" to receive auto-updates via email or text (or both) as updates become available.

Just like with your OPT application, you will eventually get an EAD card issued by USCIS if you are authorized for a STEM Extension.

Yes! The regulations regarding the STEM Extension are written to allow students who have properly filed a STEM Extension application to continue working for up to 180 days while the application is pending with USCIS.

ISS does not recommend that students travel abroad while their applications are being processed. All officers at U.S. Ports of Entry have been told to enforce a regulation requiring that students reentering the U.S. be able to present their:

  • passport valid for at least six months into the future,
  • valid I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation on it and a travel signature that's fewer than six months old,
  • valid visa,
  • a letter from their employer indicating that they will "begin their employment," and
  • an employment authorization document (EAD)

If a student's STEM Extension application is still in process upon reentering the US, the student will not be able to present the required EAD and may be denied reentry.

If a student must travel abroad and cannot produce all items, please consult with an advisor at ISS before departing.

Yes, but you must carry the following documents with you in order to reenter the United States:

Valid passport and visa

Valid I-20 with a travel signature not more than 6 months old. If you need to obtain a new one and are not in Cleveland, contact international@case.edu.

Offer letter of employment either stating start date or presuming date of employment

EAD Card

Off-Campus Employment

An F-1 student may be authorized for off-campus employment due to severe, unforeseen economic necessity. The criteria for off-campus employment eligibility are very specific and the application fee is costly; students should consider all possible options with the help of an international student advisor (schedule an appointment) if they feel that they are in need of employment based on severe economic hardship.

In order to be eligible, the student must:

  • be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (nine months)
  • be in good academic standing
  • provide evidence of economic hardship based on significant and unforeseen circumstances beyond their control since obtaining F-1 status
  • demonstrate that on-campus employment is neither available or sufficient

If authorized by USCIS, employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session but may work full-time during designated university holidays or vacation periods. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status. Upon authorization, students may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States. A job offer is NOT required in advance of obtaining this type of employment authorization.

Students seeking employment authorization based on economic hardship will need to apply by mail to USCIS to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), which will be valid for one-year intervals. It can take 12 weeks or longer for the employment authorization document to be processed by the Service Center, and employment may not commence until the student obtains the EAD.