On-Campus Employment. Students maintaining F-1 status may work for Caltech a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session and more than 20 hours per week during Institute breaks and holidays. Graduate stipends are considered on-campus employment. Caltech students whose employment location is at JPL are considered to be engaged in on-campus employment. On-campus employment is a benefit of F-1 status and does not require International Office approval.
CPT (Curricular Practical Training). CPT is an off-campus employment benefit available to students in F-1 status when the experience is considered to be an integral part of the established curriculum and directly related to the student's major. "Training" refers to a paid or unpaid internship, practicum, or other work experience that is required for the degree program, or for which course credit is awarded, or for institutionally sponsored cooperative education internships or research projects. Students are required to submit an application and receive an updated I-20 endorsed for CPT prior to beginning employment.
OPT (Optional Practical Training). OPT is an employment authorization available to students in F-1 status. OPT requires a paper application be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After OPT is approved by USCIS, students may work up to 12-months.
OPT applications can be received by USCIS a maximum of 90-days prior to completion of your academic program and must be received within 60-days after program completion. Graduate students may choose to use their defense date or the last date of the term in which they defend as the program completion date. Undergraduates will use the June commencement date as their program completion date. Undergraduate students completing in fall or winter quarter should contact ISP to determine their program completion date.
STEM Extension. F-1 students currently on post-completion OPT based on a prior Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field on the DHS STEM-Designated Degree Program List can apply to USCIS for a 24-month extension of OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months). Below are some of STEM OPT basics and links to important resources.
Severe Economic Hardship Employment. Students experiencing serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances during their academic program may qualify for special permission to work off campus. Contact your international advisor to determine if you are eligible to apply.
* Photo Requirements for USCIS: The I-765 application form for OPT and STEM OPT requires two standard, passport-style color photographs with your application. Please check the instructions on the form to verify photo requirements. Acceptable photographs must have been taken within 30 days of the date they are sent to USCIS. They should be on a white background, with a full view of your face. Your head should be bare (including no glasses) unless you are required by your religious beliefs to wear a headcovering. In all cases, your facial features must be visible.
On-Campus Employment. Degree-seeking students maintaining J-1 status, good academic standing, and a full course of study are eligible to work for Caltech on campus or at JPL for a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session and more than 20 hours per week during Institute breaks and holidays. Graduate stipends, teaching or research assistantships, and fellowships are typical of this type of employment, but may also include services provided directly to students.
Academic Training (AT). AT is employment authorization available to J-1 students when the training, internship or employment is directly related to the student's field of study. Prior to participating in AT, you must obtain authorization from your international student advisor. Students not sponsored by Caltech should contact their program sponsor (Fulbright, AMIDEAST, or others).
- Must have an employment offer directly related to student's field of study
- Duration of AT is determined by the student's degree level or the amount of time in J-1 status while enrolled full time in a course of study, whichever is less
- Undergraduate students may qualify for up to 18 months
- Master's students may qualify for up to 18 months
- PhD students may qualify for up to 18 months on a pre-doctoral basis and up to 36 months on a post-doctoral basis, inclusive of all prior academic training done at that or other levels of study
- Employment must begin within 30 days of program completion
- May be paid or unpaid
- All AT is counted as full time
- Multiple employers may be permitted sequentially and concurrently as long as all are related to the student's course of study
- AT is cumulative and inclusive of any AT previously completed at any academic level
- Must maintain appropriate level of medical insurance for self and all J-2 dependents
- No fee required
- Authorized by ISP
- Submit a completed Academic Training Request Form to ISP at least 30 days prior to your program completion date.
- Submit a signed Exchange Program Visitor Program Health Insurance Declaration form along with your AT application.
Off-Campus Employment for Economic Necessity. Students experiencing serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances during their academic program may qualify to work off campus. Consult with your international advisor to discuss your situation and to seek approval prior to beginning any employment.