Student Visas and Employment

Binghamton University enrolls over 1800 international students on non-immigrant visas; these students are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents. International students, who usually spend two years or more in the U.S., often demonstrate the initiative, flexibility, and experience to adapt to new situations. Their outstanding Binghamton University education and their multilingual abilities make them a special asset to U.S. employers. They stand to gain from the employment they receive from you, but in return, your organization benefits greatly from their unique skills and new approaches to challenges.

Given the complexity of federal laws governing the employment of non-US citizens, employers may be uncertain about hiring someone who is not a U.S. citizen, intending citizen or permanent resident. However, federal regulations do permit the employment, within certain limits, of international students in F-1 and J-1 status.

Student Visas and Employment
International students generally hold either F-1 (student) or J-1 (exchange visitor) visas in the U.S. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits students in both categories to be employed if the work is related to their field of study. In special circumstances, the USCIS grants work authorization due to unforeseen economic hardship. Both types of employment are explained below. Eligible students need not change their visa category to accept these types of employment.

F-1 Employment Options

Practical Training:
Practical Training is defined as employment related to the student's field of study. Such employment may be performed prior to or after completion of studies and may be part or full-time. There are two categories of practical training: Curricular and Optional. For more information, read International Student and Scholar Services resources on Practical Training.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is employment that is considered an integral part of the student's academic program. Curricular Practical Training can be full or part-time and the student must maintain full-time registration while on CPT. More information on Curricular Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is also employment related to a student's field of study but unlike Curricular Practical Training, this type of practical training may be done either during the student's academic program or after completion of studies. OPT prior to completion of studies is limited to part-time during the academic year although it can be full-time during vacation and holiday periods. Graduate students who have finished all coursework and are completing thesis or dissertation research may apply for full-time practical training during the academic year. Students are eligible for up to twelve months of OPT. For more information on Optional Practical Training.

Work Authorization Based on Economic Hardship
If a student experiences unforeseen economic hardship, he or she may apply to the INS for permission to work for any off-campus employer. Students must be currently enrolled at Binghamton University for this kind of work authorization; employment is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session but can be full-time during vacation and holiday periods. Such employment authorization is usually valid for up to one year and may be renewed if the student has not graduated and can demonstrate continued financial necessity. For more information on Work Authorization Based on Economic Hardship.

Last Updated: 3/24/14