Although as a general rule, F-1 foreign students are not authorized for employment in the U.S., there are certain exceptions to this rule. The following types of employment have been found acceptable for foreign students:
- On-campus employment - An F-1 student may accept on-campus employment without specific authorization from the INS provided that the student is engaged in a full-time course of study and the employment will not displace a U.S. worker.
- Off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship - When a situation arises of urgent financial need based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control, the student may request approval from the INS for part-time off-campus employment (20 hours per week or less during school but full-time during school vacations and holidays). This exception only applies after a student has been in school full-time for at least one year.
- International organization internships -- An F-1 student who has been offered employment with an international organization that qualifies under the International Organizations Immunities Act may accept such employment upon the submission of an in-person application to the INS office with jurisdiction over the student's place of residence.
- "Special student relief" -- F-1 students whose means of financial support come from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines may be able to work either on- or off-campus if the economic crises in those countries has caused them severe economic hardship. Full-time work is acceptable, but there is a specified minimum number of credit hours that the student must be enrolled for in order to accept employment. Employment authorization must be obtained prior to accepting employment.
- Curricular practical training -- Curricular practical training refers to programs that are "an integral part of an established curriculum." Students enrolled in a college, university, conservatory or seminary are eligible to apply to the DSO for authorization to participate in a curricular practical training program. The training must be either alternate work-study, an internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by a sponsoring employer through a cooperative agreement with the school. Participating students must be enrolled full-time for at least one year prior to applying for authorization and the program must be directly related to their major area of study.
- Optional practical training - An F-1 student may apply for employment authorization for an aggregate period of up to 12 months either during or at the completion of their studies in an occupation that is directly related to the student’s major area of study. The training must be completed within 14 months after completion of studies. Students in English language, elementary, or secondary programs are ineligible for practical training. Application is made to the DSO.
F-2 spouses and children are not eligible to obtain employment authorization.