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 ISP approval; however, F-1 students must meet with ISP to complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification prior to beginning their first on-campus job. ISP will also support students' application for a Social Security Number (SSN).
Students experiencing serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances during their academic program may qualify for special permission, called Severe Economic Hardship Employment, to work off campus. Contact your international advisor to determine if you are eligible to apply.
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 must receive an updated I-20 endorsed by ISP for CPT prior to beginning employment.
- Step 1: Submit the CPT Recommendation Form to your dean's office at least 3 weeks prior to your job start date.
- Step 2: After your dean's office approval, ISP will issue an updated I-20 to authorize CPT.
- Step 3: ISP will send you the CPT I-20 via email.
- Step 4: Present the CPT I-20 to your employer as proof of employment eligibility.
Important: Do Not work at all before or after the dates of CPT authorization, as indicated on Page 2 of your I-20. If your employer wishes to extend your internship, notify ISP immediately to request an updated CPT I-20 BEFORE you continue work. Never work outside of the approved CPT dates or for any other employer not specifically authorized on the I-20.
Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12-month employment authorization available to students in F-1 status at the completion of their academic program of study. OPT requires an application be filed with and approved by USCIS.
F-1s currently on post-completion OPT based on a prior degree in a STEM field can apply for a 24-month extension of OPT (for a total of up to 36 months). STEM OPT requires an application be filed with and approved by USCIS.
The SEVP Portal is an important tool to help F-1s meet their legal reporting requirements while on OPT and STEM. The Portal allows you to report address, phone, and employer information directly to the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once your OPT Start Date is Active, an email from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov will be prompt you to create your SEVP Portal account.
Every six months, SEVP will remind you to review your Portal for accuracy and to prompt you to ask your "DSO" to validate your continuing employment in SEVIS.
ISP advisors are your Designated School Officials (DSO) and will continue to assist you as long as you are on the Caltech I-20.