Employment and Eligibility

Immigration regulations limit employment eligibility for F-1 students. You should verify with the Office of Intercultural Relations that you have appropriate authorization before engaging in any form of employment. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of your immigration status. Review the information below which outlines authorized employment options for F-1 students.  

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students may work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and more than 20 hours per week during winter and summer breaks. and approved university breaks. The College further restricts the number of hours of on-campus employment during the academic year to 14 hours per week. On-campus employment has been defined by immigration regulations as employment by the institution you are attending (working for a Lake Forest College department or office) or by an off-campus firm that provides services to students (such as Aramark or the college bookstore).

Contact Charles Whitfield in the Business Office for information about on-campus employment options.

Off-Campus Employment

F-1 students must receive employment authorization from Intercultural Relations staff or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to engaging in off-campus employment. Work/employment includes performing any kind of services in exchange for compensation. Internships that provide room and board or other benefit in exchange for services fall into this category. If you, at any time, consider working off-campus, you must consult with Intercultural Relations staff in advance.

There are two types of practical training: curricular or optional. Practical training is work directly related to your major field of study. Practical training may be granted during the summer, after the completion of your degree or part-time during fall or spring semester.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT authorizes an F-1 student to engage in an off-campus internship that is integral to or required for the academic program. CPT must be part-time (20 hours per week or less) during the academic year. During summer break, you may work part-time or full-time with CPT authorization. Students must be registered for internship credit in their major field of study in order to participate in CPT. CPT authorizations are issued by OIR staff via SEVIS and specify the employer, location of employment, and start and end dates authorized for the internship.

Every semester, Intercultural Relations offers workshops to explain eligibility for Curricular Practical Training and the application process. Contact hoffman@lakeforest.edu for more information.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorizes an F-1 student to engage in practical training for 12 months, generally post-graduation. OPT is authorized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is intended for full-time, paid employment in your major field of study. You must apply for this type of employment within 90 days before and 60 days after the end date on your I-20, you may only work after you have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) from USCIS and you must complete the employment within 14 months of graduation. The timeframe to receive the EAD Card takes approximately three months.

Every semester, Intercultural Relations offers workshops to explain eligibility for Optional Practical Training and the application process. Contact hoffman@lakeforest.edu for more information.