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– Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: https://www.mnsu.edu/international/f1employment.html

On-Campus Employment

Undergraduates who are in good standing with the University and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session without USCIS approval. During your vacation periods you may work full-time if you are an undergraduate. Graduate students may work up to 14 hours per week as student help or 20 hours per week if on an assistantship.  Reminder - all F-1 students should not work on campus more than 20 hours a week during the academic term even if you have multiple employers (e.g., Sodexho and MSU departments).  Exceeding 20 hours per week during the academic term will negatively affect your immigration status. 

Please check the [PDF] On-Campus work permit process (103 KiB) and go to the Forms Page if required. The forms must be turned in along with original documents (e.g., passport, I-20 or DS-2019); please come to CSU 250 for more information.

Need an on-campus job?  Visit: Mavjobs


Need a Social Security Number?

You must have a job offer before you can get a social security number. If you have an on-campus job offer, please follow these steps:

  1. Have your employer fill out the [PDF] Employment Verification Form (54 KiB) and bring it to the Kearney International Center for a signature. (no appointment needed)
  2. Fill out the Social Security [PDF] application (59 KiB) (instructions are included)
  3. Take the Employment Verification Form, the Social Security Application, and your orginal immigration documents (I-20, Passport, Visa and I-94) to the Social Security Office:
    Mankato Place
    12 Civic Center Plaza, Ste 1550
    9:00am-3:30pm (except holidays)
  4. Bring your receipt (a letter) back to the Kearney International Center.


Off-Campus Employment 

Never Work Off-Campus Without Written Permission

Off-campus employment authorization, for employment in your field of study, is called "practical training."  There are two types of practical training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

To be eligible for any off-campus employment, the student must: 

  • Be enrolled for one academic year
  • Be in good F-1 student status in SEVIS
  • Receive written permission - apply in advance of the date of intended employment

Student employment both on-campus and off-campus is generally limited to no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. Some exceptions may apply.  During school vacations/summer, employment may be full-time. Please speak with an advisor if you have any questions about how many hours you are eligible to work. 

Need help finding a job? Visit Mavjobs


Types of Off-Campus Work Available to F-1 Students

  • CPT (Curricular Practical Training) - Internships/Employment that is credit-based 

An F-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus while school is in session and during school vacations primarily through Curricular Practical Training (CPT). 

  1. Read the [PDF] CPT instructions and review the CPT Academic Advisor Form (473 KiB)
  2. Print the CPT Academic Advisor Verification Form ([PDF] PDF (418 KiB))
  3. Turn in a complete application for CPT.  A complete application should include the following:
    • signed CPT Advisor Form
    • copy of offer letter from internship/employer site
    • proof of registration of internship credit(s)
  4. Kearney International Center will process your CPT I-20 within 3-5 days.  The CPT authorization is confirmation of your legal ability to work for those specified dates at that specific internship site in the U.S.  Do not begin employment until CPT authorization has been approved and added to your I-20. 


  • OPT (Optional Practical Training) - One year of employment authorization in your field of study

An F-1 student may request authorization to work off-campus through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Post-completion OPT allows an F-1 student to remain in the United States and work in a field related to their program of study for a period of one year. Students apply for post-completion OPT as they near the completion of their program of study (no earlier than 90 days before program completion date and no later than 60 days after program completion according to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(B)(2)).  

There are 5 Steps to apply for OPT

STEP 1:  Obtain instructions and forms:

STEP 2 - View the [PDF] OPT Tutorial (3 MiB)

STEP 3 - Turn in the following forms (completed & signed) for review in CSU 250 or during an appointment with an advisor:

  • Supplemental Information for OPT Form
  • Form I-765
  • Check/Money Order for $380 payable to the US Department of Homeland Security
  • 2 recent passport-style photos ([DOC] photos that meet Immigration specifications (40 KiB))
  • Copy of valid passport page (include extension if necessary)
  • Copy of most recent F-1 visa
  • Copy of I-94 card (front & back) or I-94 electronic printout
  • Copy of previous EAD card (if applicable)

Kearney International Center will process your OPT I-20 within 3-5 days.  If you still have questions, you may make an appointment with an advisor. 

STEP 4 - Send OPT application to USCIS/Immigration within 30 days of the OPT I-20 being issued.  The Kearney International Center will provide mailing instructions. Review additional instructions on the www.uscis.gov website under I-765 form.

STEP 5 - WAIT.  An F-1 student may not begin their OPT until they have their EAD (employment authorization document) card and the dates on the card are valid.  


  • Disclaimer: CISS Advisors may review applications, make recommendations, and issue I-20s. The Kearney International Center staff is not responsible for incomplete or denied OPT or OPT STEM Extension applications. The student is responsible for submitting a complete application to USCIS.


Additional important resources after obtaining OPT: 

An F-1 student must report any address or employment changes within 10 days. Address changes should be made through E-Services (updating your local and permanent address will automatically update your SEVIS/immigration record).  

An F-1 international student is allowed only 90 days of unemployment while on OPT. Your SEVIS record will be auto-terminated if you do not have any employment information in your record after 90 days!  You may update your OPT Employer Information in the link below. Please submit an update for each job (if you have multiple jobs concurrently). 

If you experience difficulties opening the OPT Information Update page, please email icservices@mnsu.edu with the following information for each job: 

  • SEVIS ID #
  • Employment Start Date
  • Previous Employment End Date (if starting a new job)
  • Employer/Organization Name
  • Employer/Organization Address
  • If Employment is Full-Time (more than 20 hrs/wk) or Part-Time (less than 20 hrs/wk)
  • How employment relates to your program of study (immigration officials may question you about this, be prepared to justify if the connection is not clear)


  •  OPT STEM Extension (2-year extension)

In March 2016, DHS published amended F-1 nonimmigrant student regulations on OPT for certain students with STEM degrees. The amended regulation, which provides for an extension of the OPT period by 24 months will go into effect on May 10, 2016. For more detailed information about OPT STEM, please visit the OPT STEM page on the Study in the States site.


Steps to apply:

STEP ONE: To determine eligibility to apply for the STEM Extension, match the CIP code on your Form I-20 to a STEM Eligible CIP code


STEP TWO: Work with your current employer to complete the Form I-983 Training Plan.


STEP THREE: Turn in hard copies (CSU 250) or scanned copies (icservices@mnsu.edu) of the following applications materials:

  • Completed Form I-983
  • Completed [PDF] Form I-765 (289 KiB) (with company's E-Verify Number in Section 17)
  • Check/Money Order for $380 payable to the US Department of Homeland Security
  • 2 color passport-style photos taken within the past 30 days ([DOC] photos that meet Immigration specifications (40 KiB))
  • Copy of valid passport page (include extension if necessary)
  • Copy of most recent F-1 visa
  • Copy of I-94 card (front & back) or I-94 electronic printout
  • Copy of current, unexpired EAD card (front & back)
  • Copy of your diploma. If degree is not yet attained, then a transcript showing completion of all course requirements, but still completing thesis/dissertation.

After submitting application materials to the Kearney International Center, an updated OPT STEM Extension I-20 will be issued within 3-5 days; mailing instructions will be provided. A signed copy of your OPT STEM I-20 should be included with your application materials.


STEP FOUR: Submit OPT STEM Extension Application materials to USCIS before your current OPT expires. To be eligible for the extension, USCIS must receive your application materials before the end date on your EAD card. 


  •  EH (Economic Hardship)

Students experiencing economic hardship for unforseen reasons may be eligible to apply for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization.