Studying in the U.S. brings with it a lot of expenses. You will need to support your tuition fees and cost of living. The U.S. study visa allows students to work while studying to achieve their goals. Each year, many students visit the U.S. from all over the world in order to pursue graduate, post-graduate, research programs, or other vocational courses.
To understand what kind of jobs you are allowed to take up while studying, you need to understand the types of student visas offered by the U.S.
- F-1 Visa: Allows students to enter the U.S. to complete a full-time course that offers a degree, diploma, certificate, or language training at a U.S. college, university, or school.
- M-1 Visa: Allows students to study vocational or non-vocational academic programs.
- J-1 Visa: Issued to exchange students, scholars, and researchers participating in programs to obtain medical or business training in the U.S.
Eligibility for the U.S. Work Permit
Now that you are aware of the kind of student visas available, you need to understand the eligibility criteria to get a work permit.
- Enroll in a course approved by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the Student and Exchange Visitors Program.
- Get the Form I-201D authorized by the Designated School Officer (DSO), or receive Form I-766 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- For off-campus employment:
- You must have completed one year of study under the F-1 visa
- The off-campus employment must be related to the area of study
All M-1 visa holders can accept a job only after the completion of their course. Students on the J-1 visa in the U.S. cannot accept any paid employment offer. They can only take part in academic training. However, the students with an F-1 visa, have the following two options:
1. On-campus employment:
- On-campus employment does not need any permission from USCIS
- Students can work with vendors providing on-campus services like the cafeteria, bookstore, apparel store, etc.
- Work outside the college on a research-based project as a part of the fellowship, scholarship, or assistantship.
2. Off-campus employment:
- Can be taken up only after one-year of study
- Needs authorization from the DSO
- Accept work related to Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
International students can also seek permission from DSO and USCIS in case of economic hardship.
How to Find Work in the U.S. On A Student Visa?
For on-campus job opportunity:
- Can apply the moment you start your college
- No need to seek permission from the U.S.CIS
- A valid I-20 form is needed
For off-campus job opportunity:
- Get your authorization letter from DSO, who enrolls you in the SEVIS database and provides you with the ‘Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status’
- File form I-765 with USCIS along with a signed copy of the I-20 Form
- Get the Form I-766 or ‘Employment Authorization Document’
5 Popular On-campus Jobs for Indian Students
1. Campus tour guide:
Most of the American university campuses are huge and have a lot of historic significance. Becoming a campus tour guide is one of the most commonly chosen job roles, as campus tours are quite popular with students and parents. You can take up this job in the third or fourth year of your college when you are more familiar with your campus.
2. Library monitor:
Supervision is required in the library to maintain discipline and silence. You also get to spend some more time in the library to complete your own lessons while earning some cash.
3. Peer tutor:
This is a great way to keep learning and earning money. If your college has an educational resource center, then you can also apply for a formal tutor position.
4. Production assistant:
This position is usually open with the cultural department of the university. You can work backstage to accomplish technical work. The benefit of working as a production assistant is that you get paid for the job, and get to watch shows free of cost.
5. Tech support:
Apply for the position of campus technician. You can contact your computer department to get this role. Your main task will be to offer technical support to your college’s libraries, labs, and classrooms.
FAQs – U.S. Work Permit for Indian Students
1. Can I work in the nearby café part-time on my student visa?
No. You cannot work outside your campus on a student visa.
2. How can I find work on-campus?
You can apply for the open positions at the campus the moment you land at the college.
3. What off-campus jobs can I apply for?
The off-campus jobs allowed on your F-1 student visa are:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
4. How early should I apply for my student visa?
A student visa is issued to you no more than 120 days before the start date mentioned on your form I-20. It is recommended to apply for the visa early.
5. What is Curricular Practical Training?
It is an important part of the work-study program curriculum. It includes paid internships to give students practical experience outside the classroom.
6. What is Optional Practical Training?
OPT allows international students to work for one year post the completion of the Master’s program. It helps students gain practical knowledge of their field.
7. Can I participate in both CPT and OPT?
You can take part in both the training programs, but not at the same time. Also, if you extend CPT for more than one year, then you cannot work under the OPT program.
8. Can I work more than 20 hours a week?
You can work up to 40 hours a week when school is not in session.
9. How much can I earn in my internship?
Most jobs pay between $7 and $9 per hour. Some jobs also offer the option of overtime. The kind of job you can take up will depend upon your skills, area of study, English language level, and curriculum.
10. My parents want to come along with me for a short period, do they have to apply for a separate visa?
They will have to apply for a tourist visa to go with you to the U.S.
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