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Working as International Student


According to current immigration laws, international students with student visas may work on campus provided that employment is available and provided that the student is enrolled in a full course of study (minimum of 12 hours undergraduate or 9 hours graduate) for each semester in attendance and is making progress toward the completion of a degree. On-campus employment is limited to up to 20 hours per week when regular classes are held, and only at any facility or office on campus, such as KR’s Place, Cafeteria, Campus Shop, Campus Kitchen, Village Market, Quick Print, Purchasing, Service Dept., Landscape, etc.


The Human Resources Office monitors hours worked and notifies the student and the campus employer when a student works in excess of 20 hours per week. If a student’s work exceeds 20 hours per week, the student will become out of status with Immigration Services.

If a student is not taking classes over the school vacation period (i.e. summer vacation), he/she is permitted to work full time on campus (up to 40 hours per week) provided that the student intends to register for the subsequent academic semester.

International students on non-immigrant visas are required by law to secure permission before accepting any off-campus employment.

Spouses may work ONLY if they have a student visa (or other eligible visa) of their own.


Student Labor Regulations

Work opportunities are available in departments/schools and industries operated by Southern Adventist University. Students seeking employment should contact the Human Resources Office or visit for a listing of available positions or to complete an employment application.

All hiring formalities are completed in the Human Resources Office. Students must bring their Social Security card and one identification document, such as a passport, driver’s license, or original birth certificate in order to complete the hiring process legally.

Students who are not U.S. citizens must produce an unexpired employment authorization document such as a valid I-20 Form or other legal document before employment can be arranged.

Students without a Social Security Card will not be allowed to start work. 


Procedure to Acquire Social Security Card

1. Acquire Labor Request Form from employer
2 .Present LR Form to Human Resources (HR) along with the necessary documents previously mentioned
3. Acquire First letter from HR
4. Acquire second Letter from International Services
5. Go to Social Security Administration


Student Payroll Policies

Students will receive 25 percent of their net earnings for tithe and personal items directly deposited into the bank account of the student’s choice.

The payroll period normally covers a two-week time period, and students are paid every other Friday.
It is recommended that on-campus summer earnings remain on the students’ accounts to accumulate toward their advance payment.



 As a F-1 you are NOT ALLOWED to work off-campus without approved permission from the PDSO

The following are considered off-campus:

-Collegedale Academy

-Collegedale Adventist Middle School

-Spalding Elementary School

- SDA churches

- Summer camping sites



-Selling books (ABC,etc.)

In addition, you are NOT ALLOWED to start your own business, including cleaning houses, babysitting, painting, gardening, sales, web design, and photography in the United States.

F2 (dependent of F1) are NOT ALLOWED TO WORK in the USA in any capacity,

In addition, an F-2 cannot enroll in post-secondary education. If a F-2 spouse wants to enroll in classes for credit, the spouse should request a change of status to F-1.



What is CPT?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows eligible F-1 students to participate in training that is an “integral part of an established curriculum” (Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 214.4 (f) (10) (i) and required to all students in the degree.


Who can apply for OPT?

CPT is available to students International students on F-1 visa who have internships as part of their degree requirements. Students should be in status before and after completion of all degree requirements.


When can the F-1 student apply for CPT?

Students must have been on F-1 status, lawfully enrolled on full time basis at the university, for at least one full academic year (fall and winter semesters) before being eligible for CPT.


Students entering the United States under a new SEVIS ID# must wait to complete one full academic year as a full time student before being eligible for CPT.

** Only graduate students whose program requires beginning an internship earlier would be exempt from the one full academic year requirement.


What is necessary to qualify for CPT?

CPT is available only to fulfill a required internship or practicum for completion of the major field of studies; therefore, as part of a course taken for credit. If you cannot receive college credit for the work experience, you cannot be authorized for CPT.


Student must be registered in the specific class before applying for CPT.


Students may only engage in CPT for the specific employer and location that will be recorded on page 3 of the I-20. Student may only work for the specific period noted on page 3 of the I-20. Periods are granted for one semester at a time.


The applicant needs to find a job directly related to the major field of studies and the professor for the course and the academic advisor need to approve it as such.


How many hours per week can the student work under CPT?

Applicant may not work under CPT for more than 20 hours per week during the school year and not more than 40 hours per week during vacations.


Part time CPT (less than 20 hrs/week) can be approved when student is enrolled in a full time status during a semester. Full-time CPT (more than 20/hrs week) can be approved only if the student is enrolled in at least three hours (3 hrs) credit internship class.


When the student engages in full-time CPT for 12 months or more, the student will no longer be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). There is not limit for part-time CPT a student can participate in, other than the number of hours required by the class for which the OPT is being requested.


The employer must provide a job offer letter specifying the job title and responsibilities (matching the class syllabus requirements) on company letterhead. The letter should also state the start date and ending date to complete the specific required number of hours (matching the university catalog and class syllabus requirements)

Who can approve CPT requests?
CPT is authorized by the Southern Adventist University International Student Advisers only. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her new Form I-20 with the PDSO or DSO endorsement on page 3. This endorsement shows job beginning and ending dates, name and location of employment, and approval for either full-time or part-time status. DO NOT START WORKING UNTIL YOU ARE AUTHORIZED.


Documents Required

(Make sure you have all of the following before making an appointment)
* completed CPT form (Download from International Student website)
* most recent I-20
* photocopy of requirements from SAU Catalog for the specific class
* photocopy of requirements from class syllabus for the class requiring internship
* exact number of hours of internship requested by the class (from both catalog and class syllabus)
* job offer letter from employer stating exact number of hours offered (matching class requirements and university catalog)
* letter from academic advisor stating the need for internship and approval of the specific CPT request



Optional Practical Training/Academic Training is an opportunity to gain work experience to complement your academic program. Students must complete one full academic year of study before being eligible for Optional Practical Training/Academic Training. F-1 students are entitled to one year (12 months) of practical training for each higher degree obtained.

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is not a change of visa type. It is simply permission granted to you by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to gain work experience from your field of study. While on OPT, you are still an F-1 visa holder and therefore must comply with F-1 rules and regulations. If you have already applied for an OPT, you now have the privilege of viewing the status of your application online at;jsessionid=acbe38bpVGQaR4-sL1afs

Rules and Regulations

• Immigration laws state that a student on an F-1 visa cannot have OPT authorization and pursue a degree. This means you are not permitted to be in school while you are have OPT authorization. Doing so would violate your right to 12 months of employment in your field of study.
• If you choose to pursue a new degree, a new I-20 must be issued to you, at which point your OPT authorization is cancelled. You are not permitted to work off campus once your authorization has been forfeited.
• A new OPT authorization will not be granted to you if your new degree is not of a higher level. Once you have applied for an OPT authorization in a bachelors degree, another will not be offered to you unless your next area of study is in a masters degree program.
• A student is permitted to remain in the United States for 60 days after the expiration date on the authorization card has been reached. Within this time period, a student can reapply for an I-20 to pursue a new degree. Within the 60 days of grace period, a student is under no circumstances permitted to work, continue to work, or begin taking classes.


OPT Checklist of Materials
• Complete I-765 form.
. Complete
• Photocopy of the front and back of I-94 card
. Photocopy of passport and visa
• Two photographs (see back of this form for photograph specification sheet)
• Check for $380.00 made payable to “USCIS”

OPT Extension – STEM

An OPT authorization extension might be granted to students whose field of study falls under the STEM categories. STEM fields of study include science, technology, engineering, and math. This extension allows you to have an extra 17 months on your OPT authorization. The standard 12 months is given to you, but if you so wish to extend your permit and you are eligible, you must apply for that extension. You must have completed a degree in a STEM field and be working in that area of expertise. You must have a job offer or be employed at the time you apply for the extension.

The status of your OPT application can be checked online at the USCIS website:;jsessionid=acbe38bpVGQaR4sL1afs


Bridge of the H-1B cap-gap

When a student’s OPT card ends before September 30th, there is usually a gap of time between when the student can legally work on OPT and when he/she can start working on the H-1B. Under the new STEM extension rule, a STEM student currently on OPT who has a timely-filed H-1B petition (of an October 1 employment start date) will have his/her duration of status and OPT employment authorization extended to that date.


OPT Checklist of Materials

• Complete I-765 form. Under #17 under “Degree”, please use your major description as it appears on your I-20.
• Photocopy of the front and back of I-94 card
• Photocopy of the current EAD card
• Photocopy of your diploma or official transcript showing your completed degree coursework
• Two photographs (see back of this form for photograph specification sheet)
• Check for $380.00 made payable to “USCIS”
• Letter from employer that confirms their participation in E-Verify and indicates their E-Verify number


Additional Information

1. Our office will prepare a new I-20 for you. In most cases your I-20 will be ready in 2-4 business days. When it is ready, we will notify you via email. You may come to the office to pick up your new I-20, we can send it to you if you send us a prepaid self-addressed FedEx envelope.
2. Within approximately two weeks of sending your application to the USCIS office, you will receive a Notice of Action. This is proof that you have an application pending with USCIS. The Notice of Action will contain your Receipt Number (“LIN number”). You can use this number to check your case status online at;jsessionid=acbe38bpVGQaR4sL1afs
3. If you successfully file the application for your 17-month OPT extension prior to the expiration of your current 12-month OPT period, you may continue employment even if your previous EAD card is expired until your OPT extension is processed or until 180 days has passed, whichever is sooner.
4. If your OPT extension is approved, you must send a photocopy of your new EAD card to our office as soon as you receive it.



Off-campus employment is authorized only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring subsequent to a student’s enrollment in an academic program or in emergent circumstances as defined by DHS. Off-campus employment is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond the student’s control have created severe economic hardship.

Eligibility Requirements for Off-Campus Employment

• Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment – if it is not the student’s fault
• Large increases in tuition or living costs
• Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses
• Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for his or her sources of financial support
• Death of sponsor
• Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance or
• Other substantial, unexpected expenses
• F 1 students must have been enrolled for at least one academic year and be in good academic standing before they can be authorized to work off-campus
• Student must be unable to get on-campus employment or the pay from available on-campus employment must be insufficient to meet the student’s financial needs

Mr. Kent Robertson will recommend approval of each request and provide the F-1 student with a Form I-20 endorsed to that effect.

The F-1 student must file a Form I-765 and pay a fee to USCIS. This should be done within 30 days of the day you endorse the Form I-20. If the application is approved, the student will receive an EAD card and can begin working.

Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year.