Whether you are considering employment during your time at MSU or afterwards, it is important to partner with both the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS), as well as the Career Services Network at MSU. OISS can explain your work authorization options and assist you with the proper documentation in many instances. The Career Services Network offers, among many resources, programs to build your resume writing and job interviewing skills, and a section on their website especially for international students.
Also refer to the following OISS resources for international student career development:
Networking for International Students (PDF)*
This document provides Networking Tips as well as how to create your “elevator speech”, perform informational interviews, and monitor your online professional image.
Resume and Interview Guide for International Student (PDF)*
Learn how to build your resume from the international student perspective – what to include and what to leave out – and prepare yourself for challenges you may encounter in the U.S. workplace. This guide also gives interview “dos” and “don’ts”.
Preparing for the U.S. Workplace (PDF)*
Information on how to talk to employers about your immigration status, an overview of the U.S. Workplace, and an Employer's Guide to Hiring International Students that you could share with prospective employers.
Whether you are looking for a position on or off campus, OISS and Career Services encourages you to become familiar with MySpartanCareer. If you are a doctoral student, you can also take advantage of the resources available on the PhD Career Services website.
Our page "Employing an International Student" covers many of the work authorization options available to you, and can be a useful document to pass along to prospective employers who may be unfamiliar with international student employment permissions.
F-1 or J-1 students (unless prohibited by J-1 sponsor) are eligible to work on-campus for 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time during vacation periods. Work that exceeds 20 hours per week on campus or any work off campus must be authorized by OISS. This section contains more information on employment options, social security numbers and taxes.
On-Campus Work Authorization
F-1 or J-1 students (unless prohibited by J-1 sponsor) are eligible to work on-campus for 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time during vacation periods.
NOTE: Work that exceeds 20 hours per week on-campus or any work off-campus must be authorized in advance by OISS. See OISS advisor for more information.
International students who wish to apply for a wide range of on-campus jobs should apply for the International Student Employment Assistance (ISEA) program. For more information about the ISEA program, visit: http://oiss.isp.msu.edu/students/ISEA.htm
Off-Campus Work Authorization
All off-campus employment must be authorized either by OISS (Curricular Practical Training - CPT) or US government (Optional Practical Training - OPT) or J-1 Academic Training (AT) before beginning employment. Failure to get employment authorization prior to employment will return in termination of your visa status.
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
For on campus employment over 20 hours during the academic year, or for any off campus employment, you may be eligible for CPT. [Download the CPT application packet here] (PDF)* OR [Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - Music Short-Term Gigs Only] (PDF)*
To learn how to apply for CPT, view the pre-recorded CPT webinar (a web-based presentation). [View the pre-recorded CPT Webinar here]
You can also download the presentation on CPT. [Download the CPT presentation here] (PDF)*
F-1 students may also be eligible for OPT. MSU offers post-completion OPT with the work authorization period beginning after the student has completed their course of study.
Students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) are required to complete the Optional Practical Training Course available in D2L.
Steps for registering in the Optional Practical Training Course:
- Click on Select Self Registration
- Click on the course named "OISS - Optional Practical Training (OPT)"
- Register for the Course
- Students must print the OPT certificate of completion and prepare the required documentation as outlined in the course before they can meet with an OISS advisor.
- You must complete the course the semester of graduation and the certificate must be dated during the semester of graduation.
- This is a free course
To report new employment or change of employment, use the following link: OPT Employment Reporting Form (DO NOT use for STEM OPT reporting).
No matter where you are in the OPT planning or application step, we suggest that you also read about OPT misunderstandings or "myths".
While You Are On OPTOISS has created a document especially for you explaining what to do while you are on OPT, including reporting requirements and what documents to have if you decide to travel. Read While You Are an OPT... (PDF)*. Once you find employment under OPT, it is your responsibility to submit your employer's information (OPT ONLY) to OISS.
NEW 24-Month STEM OPT Extension
On March 11th, Department of Homeland Security announced new STEM OPT regulations that will allow STEM majors to apply for 24-month STEM OPT extension beyond the regular 12-month OPT. This rule was effective on May 10, 2016, and replaced the 17-month STEM OPT extension.
All students applying for or currently on STEM OPT must read the updated STEM OPT regulations on Study In The State’s website. Department of Homeland Security has also created STEM OPT hub that addresses new STEM OPT regulations and other related important information for students, employers, and schools.
To find out if you are eligible, please see http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm. [Download the STEM OPT extension application packet] (PDF)*.
Report STEM OPT Employment (PDF)*
Cap-Gap Extension I-20Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the Cap-Gap period. This is referred to as filling the "Cap- Gap", meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the "gap" between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur, if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students. To apply for Cap-Gap extension I-20 and more information on Cap-Gap, click the Cap-Gap Extension I-20 Request (PDF)*.
J-1 Academic Training (AT)J-1 students may apply for temporary work authorization called "Academic Training" (AT) either prior to or after completion of studies to accept positions within their field of study. J-1 Academic Training (PDF)*
J-2 Work AuthorizationJ-2 visa holders may also be eligible for work authorization in the U.S. Click here (PDF)* for more information.
Social Security InformationPlease see our Social Security Information page for more information.
Tax InformationMSU College of Law Clinic provides assistance through seminars and scheduled appointments. More tax information can be found at our Tax Information page.
Individual Taxpayers Identification Number (ITIN)Unsure if you need an ITIN? Want more information? Read the How to Apply for the Individual Taxpayers Identification Number document (PDF)*.
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