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Many international students seek jobs during their studies. Lightening the student loan burden and gaining work experience are two main reasons to take up part-time jobs for international students. However, students have to be careful about the laws of the country they’re studying in. Different countries have different regulations when it comes to employment for international students. In the US, working illegally can land you in big trouble with the government.
The best option is to consult the rules laid down for part-time jobs for international students. So here are a few things that you should consider before applying for part-time jobs in the US.
The First step!
Before running out to find a job, you should contact your Designated School Official (DSO). The DSO is a student advisor who can help you in finding employment. Your DSO will assist you in applying for a Social Security Number, which is necessary for all working students in the US.
If you’re an international student who is on a student visa in the US, you can legally work in one of the following ways.
- Off-Campus Employment
- On-Campus Employment
- Optional Practice Training
- Curricular Practice Training
1) Off-Campus Employment
The regulations for Off-campus employment are very strict in the US. To be eligible for off-campus employment, a student has to complete a full academic year. Even then students must have qualifying economic hardship or an emergent circumstance to apply for an off-campus job.
If students meet the necessary demands, they can contact their DSO and tell why they need off-campus employment. After the DSO approves and recommends off-campus employment, your application process begins.
Students cannot begin their employment while their application is in process. Therefore, they should apply early if they plan on working in the US in the future. Once the process is completed in the US Immigration and Customs Office, students can work 20 hours a week.
2) On-Campus Employment
There’s no restriction for seeking on-campus employment with a student visa. On-campus employment is one of the most ideal part-time jobs for international students. The students can also work on off-campus locations that are “educationally affiliated”. An educationally affiliated location must be associated with the school’s curriculum. Contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level can also be availed by students.
To put it in simpler terms, students can work in bookstores, libraries, dorms, the cafeteria or anywhere else, as long as it is on-campus.
On-campus is the only employment you can choose while you are in your first year. You can only work 20 hours a week while school is in session. However, during holidays and vacation periods, you can work full-time.
3) Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Temporary employment relevant to your field of study qualifies for Optional Practice Training (OPT). Students that are eligible can receive up to 12 months of OPT employment.
However, there are two types OPT in the US:
- Pre-Completion OPT – Once you complete a full academic year in a US College or University, this option is available for you. You can work full-time on vacations and 20 hours a week when classes are in session.
- Post-Completion OPT – As soon as you complete your studies, you become eligible to apply for Post-Completion OPT. Authorized students can work either full-time or part-time as long as the term for their OPT employment lasts.
4) Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
For a job to be considered as Curricular Practical Training, it should be a part of your school curriculum. It must be an internship or practicum, relevant to your field of study. Unless the student is part of an undergraduate program, he or she has to complete a full academic year to qualify for CPT.
Unlike other categories, a CPT doesn’t have a weekly limit. A student can work full-time and on more than one CPT authorizations.
A part-time job helps not only with your daily expenses but also, with grooming yourself for future professional experiences. The nature of the opportunities you receive depends upon the university and the program that you choose.
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