Have employment questions? Come to our Work Authorization Wednesday Workshops! Workshops are held on a walk-in basis each Wednesday in the semester from 11:00-12:00 in CC2115 and are aimed to answer questions about all types of F-1 employment. Not intended to replace an OPT workshop. 

Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN)

You will need to obtain a Social Security Number in order to be paid by an employer. This is a nine-digit number that is needed by the employer to report your wages to the government. 

  • To obtain a Social Security Number international students must complete the Request for Social Security Eligibility Letter Form. You will bring this form and the Employment Verification Form to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office nearest you. To find the closest office, visit the Social Security Administration website. Bring all of your original immigration documents with you to the SSA office, including a print out of your electronic I-94 card.
  • For international graduate teaching assistants, please download this page.

On Campus Employment

F-1 students are permitted to work part time, up to 20 hours per week, on campus during the semester. During school breaks, F-1 students can work full time, up to 40 hours per week, on campus. On-campus employment does not require any extra permission from ISSS.

PLEASE NOTE: F-1 international students are not eligible for federally funded “work study” positions. Federal assistance of this nature is only granted to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

If you have been enrolled full time for at least one academic year (two semesters) you are eligible to do an internship or practicum. Not all students have internships available to them in their programs. Internships, if available, can be identified in the course catalog and must be approved by your department. You cannot do an internship without signing up for an internship or practicum course. Please speak to your academic advisor about taking on an internship or practicum and then request CPT through ISSS. This request should be made in advance of the start date of your internship or practicum.

OPT (Optional Practical Training)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a 12 month period available to F-1 students for each degree level they complete in the United States. This may be taken while the student is still studying, but is more commonly taken after graduation as "Post Completion OPT."

  • I will graduate this semester. When can I apply for OPT?
    • The earliest you can apply for OPT in your final semester is 90 days before your Program End date (found on your Form I-20). The latest you can apply is 60 days after your Program End date, at the end of your grace period. 
  • I want to apply, what do I do?
    • All students applying for OPT are required to attend an OPT workshop with ISSS. These workshops take place throughout the semester, at different times to accommodate all students' schedules. At the workshop, you will receive all application materials and hear from an immigration advisor about the OPT process and the regulations. ISSS will not process your OPT application if you do not attend a workshop. 
  • When will I start my OPT?
    • You will choose a start date for your 12 months of OPT employment. This start date can be any day within your 60-day grace period. Keep in mind that it will take USCIS 90 days to process your application and you will not be able to begin work until your OPT is approved and you have received your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) in the mail. 

OPT Forms: OPT Employer Update Form | OPT Fact Sheet | OPT Handbook

OPT Workshop Sessions - Spring 2017

All workshops, unless otherwise noted, take place in the Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Room 2115 and are limited to 20 participants. To sign up for a session, please click here to sign up: OPT Workshop Sign Up
February (02/09) Fri:10AM

(02/23) Fri: 1PM

(02/27) Tues: 11AM


March (03/09) Fri: 10AM (03/20) Tues: 11AM (03/30) Fri: 10AM    
April (04/03) Tues: 11AM (04/10) Tues: 11AM (04/20) Fri: 1PM (04/27) Fri: 10AM  
May (05/04) Fri: 10AM (05/11) Fri: 1PM (05/17) Thurs: 10AM (05/24) Thurs: 10AM (05/30/) Wed: 2PM 

H-1B Cap Gap

About the Cap Gap

H-1B is a work visa that is sponsored by an employer. Students commonly transition from Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization, a benefit of the F-1 visa, to H-1B status. There are a limited number of H-1Bs available each fiscal year, for most employers, and this limit is often referred to as the "H-1B Cap."

New H-1Bs become effective each year on October 1, but the application period for most employers begins six months earlier, on April 1. The "cap gap" occurs when a student's F-1 status and/or OPT expires before their approved H-1B begins October 1.

The Cap Gap Extension

The H-1B Cap Gap Extension allows certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in the U.S. in F-1 status until the start date of their approved H-1B employment period, October 1, even if the OPT authorization and/or F-1 grace period would have otherwise expired before October 1.

H-1B Cap Gap Frequently Asked Questions

(Click to view answer)

Can the cap gap extension of OPT be extended beyond September 30 if my H-1B petition is still pending?No, the cap gap extension is only until September 30. If the H-1B petition is pending beyond October 1, you can remain in the U.S. based on the pending change of status petition. However, you must stop working until the H-1B petition is approved.


Will I receive personal notification of my cap gap extension?No, you will not receive automatic notification. You must be in close communication with your employer's immigration specialist so you know the status of your H-1B petition. When you are eligible for the cap gap extension, you must contact email an ISSS advisor if you want documentation of the extension.


What happens if my H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or revoked?You will have a 60-day grace period from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, or revocation, during which time you can make preparations to depart the U.S., transfer to another full-time degree program, or change visa status.


Can I travel outside the U.S. during a cap gap extension period and return in F-1 status?ISSS recommends that you consult with your employer's immigration specialist before traveling internationally during the cap gap extension period.


Does the 90-day unemployment limit apply during the cap gap extension period?Yes, the 90-day unemployment limit continues during the cap gap extension period.


Can I apply for the 17-month OPT extension while I'm within a period of cap gap extension? Yes, you can apply for the 17-month OPT extension during the cap gap extension of OPT. However, you must ensure that your employer requests the withdrawal of the approved or pending H-1B petition in time for USCIS to officially accept the withdrawal prior to October 1-otherwise, your H-1B will begin October 1, which cancels your eligibility for the 17-month OPT extension.

J-1 Scholars