Working & Studying
International Admissions
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Office of International Admissions
Bell Building 2nd Floor
3100 Cleburne St.
TSU BOX 1855
Houston TX 77004

Phone: 713-313-4229
Fax: 713-313-4380

Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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The F-I (student) visa falls in the category of non-immigrant visa and is issued for entry into the US “temporarily and solely for the purpose of study.” The status conferred to the holder of an F-1 visa, then, by its very nature, precludes employment.

Nevertheless, a student may find it necessary to work in order to fulfill the purpose of the visa. For example, there may be a drastic and unforeseen change which affects the ability to fund the studies; or, a course of study may require an internship or practical, on-site training in the form of paid employment in a business, organization, or industry. The Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS), recognizing this, has for many years allowed for employment by the F-1 student where necessary and justified.

On-Campus Employment

A F-1 student may work on-campus for the university or a firm which provides services to the university in "work study" type employment, part-time (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during vacations or breaks.

No special authorization or approval by INS is necessary for this type of work.

F-1 students are not allowed to apply for work-study jobs or long-term staff positions. Most on-campus jobs are not advertised anywhere but in the individual department. Visiting departments in person is recommended.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Work required by the educational program. The student may enroll in a course which has a practical work experience requirement or a certain type of project, research, or training in business/industry/academia may be necessary for satisfactory completion of the degree or of a component of the degree.

CPT most often involves part-time work during the academic year or summer internships. A letter from the employer describing the work and the dates of the training period by the OISA. There is no stated time limit for CPT, but if a student completes twelve months of full-time employment as CPT, he is not eligible for OPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Texas Southern University offers majors designated by the Department of Homeland Security to be eligible for the 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training for F-1 students. See the full list of DHS STEM-designated degree programs.

The position must be at least 20 hours per week and the employer must be registered with E-Verify. See details below.

Severe Economic Hardship

This program provides off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students who face severe economic hardship due to changes in their circumstances that could not be controlled or predicted. During fall and spring semesters, you are limited to part-time employment (a maximum of 20 hours per week) and must maintain a full course of study. You can work full-time during the summer or officially recognized school breaks.

You must have completed two main semesters (fall and spring; an academic year) to be eligible to apply for this program. You must also document and prove that your financial need could not have been predicted and that it was not under your control.
You must bring the following to the International Student Affairs Office:
  • Bring your current I-20, passport, and I-94 card.
  • Letter from sponsor with notarized signature.
  • Personal letter of financial need.
  • Bring supporting documentation.
  • Attach completed form I-765.
  • Bring your 2 color “passport” photographs in the original holder or a small envelope.
  • Bring a personal check for $380 made payable to DHS/CIS.
The International Office will:
  • Review your application and supporting documentation.
  • Issue a new I-20 with a recommendation for severe economic hardship work permission and the lack of availability or sufficiency of on-campus employment.
Mailing & Authorization
  • Send to USCIS using Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation (enables you to confirm delivery at USPS website: Once your application is posted as delivered, print this page for your own records.
  • Do not work until you have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and the start date is effective. Do not work beyond the expiration date. Apply for a renewal of your authorization four months before the expiration date so there will be no gap in your employment.