Types of Visas
F-1 Visa Holders
- The F-1 visa status is a temporary nonimmigrant student visa. F-1 visa holders must obtain work authorization before beginning employment off-campus. (Note: F-2 visa holders are dependents of the F-1 visa holder and are not, under any circumstances, allowed to earn income in the U.S.)
J-1 Visa Holders
- J-1 student visa status is granted to students who participate in international exchange programs between Webster University and universities in other countries, or whose education in the U.S. is financed directly or indirectly by the U.S. government, the government of the student’s home country, an international organization of which the U.S. is a member, or by another institutional sponsor. J-1s have some work authorization options that must be pre-approved.
Details on how F-1 and J-1 visa holders can obtain authorization to work is detailed in the section that follows. Employers do not incur processing costs for employment authorization of international students while they are on F-1 or J-1 visas.
- Students in F-1 and J-1 status are required to be full-time students and may work on-campus up to 20 hours a week or in the practical training options detailed below.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is temporary employment authorization directly related to an F-1 student’s academic program and is granted by International Recruitment and International Services (IRIS). CPT is typically authorized on a part-time basis (up to 20 hours a week) during the school year and can be authorized on a full-time (over 20 hours a week) or part-time basis during vacation periods. CPT gives students the possibility to work off-campus or to work for more than 20 hours a week on campus if certain qualifications are met. There are two types of CPT:
- Required for the degree program: In order for training to be considered required, all students in the degree program must be required to complete an internship or practicum in order to receive their degree. A few programs at Webster University have such requirements.
- Integral part of an established curriculum: If the internship/work experience is not required, then it must be taken for academic credit. Students will work with their academic advisor to complete the CPT Authorization Form issued by IRIS. Please visit the IRIS website for more information.
The student must receive an offer before securing the employment authorization, and is thus unable to provide documentation of authorization at the interview stage. IRIS needs a signed, written offer of employment on the company’s letterhead as part of the CPT application requirements.
The employer and dates for which the student is authorized to work will appear on the student’s Form I-20 (certificate of eligibility). Students cannot begin work before the start date on the Form I-20 or continue working after the end date. CPT authorization may be renewable if the student continues to be eligible.
Academic Training (AT)
J-1 students may apply for temporary work authorization through AT either prior to or after completion of studies to accept positions within their field of study.
Students seeking or completing bachelor's or master's degrees are eligible for 18 months of AT. Students seeking or completing doctoral degrees are eligible for 36 months of AT. Non-degree (exchange) students are eligible for AT authorizations matching the length of time they have spent studying in the U.S. Example: A one-semester (4-month) exchange student is eligible for up to 4 months of AT.
The U.S. government allows students to apply for authorization to gain practical work experience to supplement their academic programs. Many employers find this to be a useful opportunity to hire a student with valuable international perspectives.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is defined as “temporary employment authorization directly related to the field of study.” F-1 students are eligible for up to 12 months of employment authorization under this category. For students whose majors are given the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) designation, employment may be extended for an additional 24 months, if the F-1 visa holder is employed by an E-Verify employer.
OPT is recommended by IRIS at Webster University and granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application process can take several months.
Students on OPT will receive an employment authorization document or EAD card. USCIS issues the EAD and it specifies the dates of authorized employment.
Academic Training (AT)
J-1 students are eligible for Academic Training both before and after graduation. See details in “Before Graduation” section above.
Lawful permanent residency is a status granted by the U.S. government to citizens of other countries. One option to obtain PR is through an employer-based petition. For example, the employer may document the need for a person’s occupational skills, or the individual must prove international recognition is his or her field. While an employer may sponsor an individual, USCIS makes the final decision. The employer should make no promise or guarantee to the employee.