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Employment Authorization

Employment Authorization

International students on F-1 or J-1 visas who are in good status are eligible to work on campus and off campus by understanding the following restrictions and procedures: 

Any student on an F or J Visa is eligible for on-campus employment which includes working for the bookstore or food service providers. You do not need permission from the International Student Services Office for these positions. You can view student positions through the Clayton State Career Services website. We would suggest working with the Career Services Office on campus to assist you with interviewing skills, cover letter and resume writing.

If you do not have a Social Security Number please view the information on how to obtain one by clicking on the link provided.  You must not work more than 20 hours per week when school is in session or you are violating your visa status.

Part-time: Limited to 20 hours a week or less while school is in session.

Full-time: Authorized only during school breaks (summer semester, winter and spring break).

Competitive: The limited on-campus jobs are competitive and high in demand. Students are not guaranteed employment on campus.

Federally funded: Some campus jobs are classified as federally funded work-study positions. International students are not eligible for these positions.

Financial Scope: International students should not expect or rely on income from future campus employment before securing funds to cover all educational and personal expenses.

Taxes: International students are not exempt from US federal taxes. Therefore, filing an income tax return each spring between January 1 – April 15 is required to determine if you owe more taxes or can claim additional tax benefits or refunds based on the tax treaty between your country and the U.S. Even if you are not employed, you are required to file for 8843 each year.

Social Security Number (SSN): A SSN is not employment authorization. It’s a unique number that identifies you as a tax payer. You must have a SSN so your employer can withhold proper taxes. If you don’t have a SSN, you will need to obtain one before starting an on campus job. You must be in the U.S. at least 10 days before applying for SSN. You will need a printed job offer letter and assistance from ISS to obtain a SSN.

Authorization: F1 international students do not need special authorization from USCIS for on-campus employment or with any external vendor that offers a job on campus. J1 students do need authorization from their program sponsor for on-campus employment.

Examples of Work: Dining services, the library, SAC, the HUB, computer labs, the bookstore, information desk, tutoring, campus tour guide.

Where to find jobs: Not all campus jobs are advertised. Wherever you see a student working in a position that interests you, inquire and find out who the supervisor is. Jobs are also posted on Laker Zone via the Career Services website.

F1 Students

Authorization by USCIS is required before any off-campus employment can begin. Working off campus without proper authorization is illegal and can put your F1 student status and presence in the U.S. at risk.

Processing times for applications that require USCIS approval may be extensive due to impacts from Covid-19 on staffing.

There are 3 types of off-campus employment authorizations. After reviewing the links below, contact ISS for further details:

  1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - no fee, fast approval, limited duration. Typically used for internships and practicums while you are enrolled in a program of study.
  2. Optional Practical Training (OPT) - $470 filing fee, 8 - 10 weeks approval, 12 -17 months. Typically authorized once you have completed your program of study.
  3. Severe Economic Hardship - $470 fee, 8 - 10 weeks approval, duration varies.
    1. The economic hardship must be documentable and due to circumstances beyond your control after arriving in the US. Examples: substantial fluctuations in the exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, loss of sponsorship, natural disasters or civil unrest at home interrupting your funding source, medical bills. The application process can take 2 to 3 months. 

All types of authorized employment require:

  • Full-time enrollment during the previous two semesters (excluding summer).
  • Application through ISS.
  • You may NOT begin employment until you receive authorization from ISS for CPT; or from USCIS for OPT and Economic Hardship.
  • You are limited to working a TOTAL of 20 hours per week (including both on and off campus) while school is in session and may work full time (40 hours per week) when school is not in session.

Curricular Practical Training

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization granted to students on F-1 visas for paid internships or positions off campus and directly related to their major.
  • CPT allows you to work 20 hours or less each week during the academic year and up to 40 hours during the holiday and summer breaks.
  • Employers may or may not require that a student obtain a Social Security number. Please discuss this with your employer.
  • You should not begin work until your CPT is approved by the International Student Services Office. 

To be eligible for CPT

  • You must have been in lawful status as a full-time international student at Clayton State for one full academic year.
  • A Graduate student may receive permission to begin CPT immediately, if their program of study requires it.
  • There is no exception to this rule for undergraduate students. Your training must be directly related to your field of study and correspond with your educational level.
  • Your training must be a requirement of the program, and you must receive course credit.
  • Your CPT dates must align with the current semester start and end dates.

Applying for CPT

In order to apply for CPT you need to submit the following:

  1. CPT Checklist – To be completed by the student.
    Only need 1 per semester
  2. CPT Advisor Form - Send this link to your academic advisor (Music Students – to be completed by your music performance instructor).  Only need 1 per semester.  
  3. CPT Employment Offer Letter – To be completed by your employer.  Needed for EACH employer. May be used by employer instead of a formal letter.  Please complete the online form linked above for the CPT Employment Offer Letter and determine the next steps for this process. 

CPT Approval

  • Once approved, the student will be issued a new I-20. More than one employer can be entered at a time, so please combine employment offers as much as possible to decrease the number of I-20's that need to be printed.
  • CPT must be approved for each semester, with new approval forms and employment letters submitted.
  • Forms must be received at least two weeks prior to performance/employment start.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit to students on F-1 visas that allows them to work up to 12 full months in their fields of study. You are eligible to participate in one year of OPT after each degree level completed. OPT can be applied for 90 days prior to your graduation date or up to 60 days after.


To be eligible for OPT:

You must be an F-1 student in lawful academic standing at Clayton State for one full academic year (nine months) before submitting an OPT application. Student‘s time in any Visa status that is valid for study can count towards the one full academic year requirement.

You must not have participated in full-time Curricular Practical Training for more than 12 months. You must submit your application for OPT before your program completion date (the day of your last final)

You must maintain a valid:

  • Passport
  • I-94 card
  • I-20


Applying for OPT

Once you are ready to apply for OPT:

  • Complete the OPT Checklist below (to make sure that you have all the necessary documents)
  • Send the OPT Advisor Form below to your academic advisor
  • Make an appointment with the International Student Services Office by emailing

You should apply two to three months before completion of your studies to ensure that you receive your Employment Authorization (EAD) Card in a timely fashion. The latest you may apply is 60 days after your program end date, but to ensure that there are no delays, we do not suggest waiting that late.

Complete the following prior to submitting your OPT application online and prior to your appointment:

  1. OPT Checklist – to be completed by student.
  2. OPT Advisor Form – to be completed by student and student's advisor.
  3. OPT Frequently Asked Questions - learn more about the OPT process. 
  4. Review the I-765 form and create a USCIS account – do this before your appointment.
  5. Complete the OPT Student Responsibilities Electronic Agreement with the International Student Services Office during the meeting. 

In order to apply, you will need to be ready to pay the $470 OPT filing fee online at the time of your appointment.



STEM OPT allows for an additional 24 months of OPT if you are in the specified degree fields that are approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. STEM OPT requires all of the same information and fee payment as regular OPT except a copy of your degree or diploma and an employer training plan must be included. STEM OPT must be applied for and the application must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration of your current OPT. More information about STEM OPT may be found at: 


Pre Completion OPT - OPT prior to completion of degree

  • Students must be enrolled in school full time
  • Students may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session
  • Students may work full time during summer and other breaks (as long as student will return to school after the break)
  • Student may work full-time after completion of all coursework, if a thesis or dissertation is still required and student is making normal progress towards the degree
  • Employment must be related to degree field
    Must submit payment and documents the same as post completion OPT
  • Approval times are the same as regular OPT


Important things to know about OPT

  • You must begin your OPT within 60 days of course completion
  • Once you complete your OPT, you have 60 days to leave the country
  • You may only work during the dates that are specified on your EAD card
  • You must actively search for, and obtain employment within 90 days of your OPT start date or you will be considered out of status and your I-20 will be terminated
  • You must work in your area of study
  • Clayton State International Student Services cannot assist with completing the form I-983.  This is something that the international student and your employer must complete.  If you require assistance, please see the Form I-983 Filing Instructions to complete the process. 
  • If an international students Driver's License plans to expire while prepping for OPT, inform the International Student Services office as soon as possible to assist in expediting your OPT appointment.   Once the student has completed filing for OPT with the ISS Office, the student will need to submit the OPT documentation and present an original I-797C Notice of Action form to the Department of Driver Services which is proof showing the student has requested an extension for time to remain lawfully within the United States.  


Contact Us

Clayton State University International Student Services (ISS)
UC, Room 210
2000 Clayton State Blvd.
Morrow, GA 30260-0285

Tel: (678) 466-5499
Fax: (678) 466-5469


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