International students must always obtain work authorization to work off-campus. Off-campus employment must be related to your UMN major.
These requirements apply to any type of off-campus employment, including:
- Paid internships (including those required by an academic program).
- Summer employment.
- Positions where the individual receives a benefit instead of pay (for example, getting free rent in exchange for babysitting or being a caretaker of an apartment building).
ISSS encourages international students to consult with an ISSS advisor early in the job search process to ensure they can receive authorization for the type of work they are seeking.
Terms to Know
Types of Authorization
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is work authorization that allows a student to work before graduation in a job directly related to their major area of study. CPT authorization is provided by ISSS and can be granted within 7 business days of application submission.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is work authorization that allows a student to work either before or after degree completion in a job directly related to their major area of study. OPT authorization is provided by USCIS and is usually granted within 2-3 months after the student submits an application.
24-Month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension
Graduates with a certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree are eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT STEM Extension. Graduates apply for STEM OPT as they near the end of their initial OPT period, and the permission is granted by USCIS within 2-3 months after the graduate submits an application.
Off-Campus Work Permission Based on Unforeseen Financial Change (Limited Eligibility)
The severe economic hardship employment authorization benefit is intended to address specific situations where a financial need beyond the student’s control arises, which were unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school they are currently attending. This authorization can only be available after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.
Please note: Applicants must pay a $480 application fee, and USCIS will likely take between 4-7 months to confirm or deny a request.