F-1: Employment Information

There are several types of employment available to F-1 students:

  • On-Campus Employment
  • Off-Campus Employment
    • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    • Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship
  • Special Student Relief (SSR)

Please see the sections on each type of employment below for more information, eligibility, and how to apply. 

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is defined as employment which provides a paycheck from Purdue University or from a Purdue-approved contractor providing direct services to students. Eligible on-campus positions include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, some fellowships, and hourly employment (Food Services, Library, etc).

Paperwork for on-campus employment is processed by the business office of the employing department/office.

Hours Per Week: 

F-1 students are restricted in the amount of hours per week they may work:

  • Fall/Spring academic semesters: maximum of 20 hours per week
  • Semester breaks, winter break/spring break/summer break:  more than 20 hours per week is allowed
    • Exception: if student employment requires the student to register during the summer, a maximum of 20 hours per week is permitted.
      • For example: a 12-month Graduate Staff appointment is required to enroll in the summer, and is therefore limited to working 20 hours per week while enrolled.

On-Campus Employment After Program Completion:

Upon degree completion, all on-campus employment permission ends.

Special Situations: 

  • Employment between programs (BS to MS, or MS to PhD):
    • On-campus employment is not permitted after program completion, unless you have a new I-20 for the new education level and plan to enroll the following semester. See an ISS Immigration Counselor for more information.
  • PhD and Masters Thesis-Option Students who are applying for OPT:
    • If you have applied for OPT, check your I-20 program end date (on the first page of your I-20 in the "Program of Study" section). This is the LAST DAY you may be employed as a student (including any on-campus job or assistantship). If you do not defend and deposit by the program end date listed on your I-20, you may still do this while on OPT, but no further employment in any capacity is allowed until your OPT is approved. Please discuss any questions with your ISS Immigration Counselor.
  • School Transfer (from other school to Purdue or from Purdue to new school)
    • When transferring your F-1 SEVIS record from another school to Purdue, wait until receiving a Purdue I-20 before starting work on-campus
    • When transferring from Purdue to a new school, contact the new school's international office to ask when you may begin on-campus employment on the new school campus
    • For more info about transferring your SEVIS record, see F-1 School Transfer

Social Security Number Instructions

For guidance regarding obtaining a Social Security Number, please refer to Government and Agency Resources | ISS (purdue.edu)

Off-Campus Employment

F-1 students must be in full-time student status for one full academic year to be eligible for off-campus employment.  Below are listed the various types of off-campus employment: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Off-campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship.

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship
    • Employment authorization due to severe economic hardship is difficult to obtain. It is a very limited option for students who can prove extreme unforeseen economic conditions. The application must be submitted to and approved by USCIS. Students interested in this option should see an ISS Immigration Counselor.

Special Student Relief (SSR)

Federal regulations allow for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to alter or suspend rules regarding employment eligibility, full course of study, or duration of status for specific groups of F-1 students from specific parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. Special Student Relief (SSR) provisions are published in the Federal Register, which defines the specifics of the rules that are to be altered, for whom it applies, and for how long. Please see an ISS Immigration Counselor for details if you are an F-1 student from an affected area eligible for Special Student Relief.