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F-1 Student Employment

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students are automatically eligible to accept on-campus employment at UIC as long as the student is here, and is registered for classes(Note: off-campus employment is restricted, see below). UIC employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week when school is in session; this amount includes all other authorized employment. International students may work more than 20 hours per week during official university breaks only (Winter Break, Summer).

On-campus employment does not need to be related to the student’s field of study.

Note: Graduate Assistantships correspond to a percentage of hours to be worked each week:

  • 50% = 20 hours per week
  • 33% = 14-15 hours per week
  • 25% = 10 hours per week

Off-Campus Employment

F-1 students are eligible for off-campus employment authorization in the form of Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. Authorization can be given if the student has been maintaining their status and if they meet other eligibility requirements (explained below).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is authorization for off-campus training in the form of an internship, co-op, or practicum that is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT must be either required or course credit must be given toward the student’s degree program. CPT may be authorized as the student continues to work towards their degree. To apply for CPT, the completed application must be submitted to an OIS advisor during open advising hours. The student must have the approved CPT I-20 before they begin training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students are eligible for up to twelve months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization for each level of study (example BS, MS, PhD). The majority of students apply for OPT as they near the end of their academic studies. Utilizing OPT after completion of studies allows students the opportunity to use the skills they have learned at UIC in a “real world” environment.

Pre-completion Optional Practical Training may be done during specific times before the student graduates, or after they graduate. F-1 students are eligible for up to twelve months of OPT authorization for each level of study (example BS, MS, PhD). Students must attend a mandatory OIS OPT Workshop to obtain the application (see below) prior to applying for OPT.

Mandatory Workshop for Those Applying for OPT

The Office of International Services conducts mandatory workshops for F-1 international students interested in applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) throughout the semester. Students applying for OPT must first attend one of these workshops. There, students will learn about the OPT application process, maintaining immigration status and other important procedures. Dates and times for these workshops are listed on the OIS calendar.

24-Month Extension of OPT (STEM)

F-1 students approved for standard post-completion OPT based on a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field may be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT for a total authorization of 36 months. More information about the STEM OPT extension, including the Department of Homeland Security list of eligible CIP codes, can be found online at Study in the State STEM OPT Hub.

For information about eligibility and application procedures for UIC alumni, please email the STEM OPT Team at stemopt@uic.edu. We recommend that you begin the STEM extension application process around four months prior to the expiration of your current 12-month post-completion OPT EAD. USCIS will not accept STEM OPT extension applications after the expiration date on your current EAD.