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Student Life

Employment and Eligibility

Immigration regulations limit employment eligibility for F-1 students. You should verify with a Designated School Official (DSO) 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 12 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 Parkhurst or the college bookstore).

Contact Yang Choe in the Business Office for information about on-campus employment options.

Intercultural Relations will offer information on obtaining a Social Security Number, which will allow you to be paid.

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 or “volunteer” roles 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.  Please note that babysitting or other “under-the-table” roles are not authorized and is a violation of your immigration status.

There are two types of off-campus employment, called practical training for F-1 students: 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.  Both types require authorization paperwork. See tabs below for more information

Internship Authorization - Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT authorizes an F-1 student to engage in an off-campus internship or training program, whether paid or unpaid, that is integral to or required for the academic program.  To be eligibile for CPT, students must have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time F-1 student for one academic year (two consecutive semesters).  Lake Forest further requires that students have at least achieved junior status before participating in an internship.

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 a Designated School Official (DSO) via SEVIS and specify the employer, location of employment, and start and end dates authorized for the internship.

Once we determine your eligibility, in order to process your CPT authorization, I will need the following:


  1. Email directly from your CAC Faculty Internship Supervisor to hoffman@lakeforest.edu, stating that you are approved for an internship, the course code for your internship (i.e. ECON 490) and the number of credits.  The internship must be given credit in your MAJOR field of study; it cannot be credit toward a minor or graduation credit.


  1. Employment offer letter or form, signed by the supervisor or HR representative of your company or organization. Form MUST provide confirmation that the employment is paid or unpaid, the start and end date of the internship, the expected number of hours, and the employer address.


These can take awhile to put together, so be sure to be working on obtaining your internship early and completing the necessary Phase 2 paperwork with the CAC as soon as possible. (Also, see below for great career resources!)  

Contact Erin Hoffman at hoffman@lakeforest.edu for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Optional Practical Training

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 to five months.

The current application requirements include:

  1. Email confirmation from Academic Advisor to a DSO, confirming the student is scheduled to graduate at the end of this term
  2. Personal request letter to USCIS
  3. Check or Money Order to US Department of Homeland Security (currently $410, but check website for up-to-date amount) Students may elect to pay via credit card with this form: https://www.uscis.gov/g-1450  
  4. I-765 form (found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765)  Students applying for their first OPT should use code (C) (3) (B) for question 27.  
  5. Form G-1145 
  6. Passport (unexpired)
  7. Visa (not applicable for Canadian citizens)
  8. I-94 document (can be printed here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
  9. Copy of I-20 form with OPT request
  10. 2 passport-size photos, with name and I-94 number written on back in pencil
  11. Previous EAD cards (if applicable, and only if you have previously been approved for OPT while in school)

Once you have obtained all required pieces, schedule an appointment with the Designated School Official (DSO) to complete your OPT application and print a new I-20.  

Every semester, the DSO will offer workshops to explain eligibility for Optional Practical Training and the application process. 

Optional Practical Training -  STEM Extension

Students interested in applying for a STEM OPT extension should contact a DSO about 120 days prior to the end date of the current OPT approval to ensure there is enough time to put together an application.  

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Student completed their major in Biology, Economics, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, or Mathematics.
  • Employer must be registered in e-verify.  Participating employers can be found here.

The current application requirements include:

  1. Check or Money Order to US Department of Homeland Security (currently $410, but subject to change – check website for up-to-date amount) Students may elect to pay via credit card with this form: https://www.uscis.gov/g-1450  
  2. I-765 form (found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765)  Students applying for their OPT extension should use code (C) (3) (C) for question 27.  
  3. I-983 form (found at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/form-i-983-overview.)  This form should be completed by both the F-1 student and their employer.  Be sure to relate how the training plan is related to and a continuation of your major degree program at Lake Forest.
  4. You may also wish to complete the G-1145 to receive an update from USCIS when your items are processed, but this is optional
  5. Passport copy
  6. Visa copy (not applicable for Canadian citizens)
  7. I-94 document (can be printed here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
  8. Copy of I-20 with STEM Extension requested
  9. 2 passport-size photos, with name and I-94 number written on back in pencil
  10. Previous EAD cards (copy)

Once you have obtained all required pieces, contact Erin Hoffman to complete your OPT application and print a new I-20.  


Career Resources

The Career Advancement Center has resources for students to create a resume, practice interviewing, and much more.  Use them!

One particular resource that is great for international students is the GoinGlobal, which highlights employers who have hired for H-1b applications.  This may help students consider employers that are open to international students.