Employment and Training

The primary purpose of you being in the U.S. as an F-1 student is to attend college full-time; however, it is possible to work and get experience in your future career while attending KU. You will need a social security number and you will pay taxes on the income you earn.

Review the following information for more details about training and employment. To avoid falling out of status and being terminated, you must comply with the regulations for employment for F-1 students.

You should consult with the Designated School Official as soon as you are ready to look for a job or internship to find out how to receive authorization.

  • On Campus Employment

    You may work up to 20 hours per week on campus during the fall and spring semesters. If you have more than one job, you must make sure that you do not exceed a combined total of 20 hours of on-campus work for all jobs in any given week. You may work full-time during official school breaks, including winter, spring, and summer breaks. You will need a social security number to work on campus. Review the information below to learn more about working on campus. If you are not sure if a job opportunity qualifies as being on-campus employment, please ask International Student Services.

    Definition of on-campus employment:

    • Employment by KU: A job in any campus office that is run by Kutztown University
    • Employment on KU property: A job for a company that provides services to students on campus, such as KUSSI (bookstore), Aramark (dining services), or PSECU (credit union)
    • Off-campus work that qualifies as on-campus employment: This type of employment must meet the conditions listed below. A letter from the academic advisor or the department head certifying these points must be presented to International Student Services prior to beginning work.
      • The location is educationally affiliated with KU
      • The affiliation is associated with KU's established curriculum or is related to a graduate-level research project, which KU has contracted to perform
      • The work is an integral part or important part of the program of study

    Eligibility requirements:

    • Have a valid F-1 visa
    • Continue to maintain lawful F-1 status
    • Continue to take a full course load

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary internship or practicum for F-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study. Curricular Practical training may be paid or unpaid and part-time or full-time, depending on the requirement of the curriculum.

    Curricular Practical Training can only be authorized if it is required by the major or you will be receiving academic credit. CPT can not be authorized for independent studies or individualized instruction. 

    If it does not meet this requirement, the training has to be authorized as pre-completion Optional Practical Training. Check with the Designated School Official to see if you meet the requirements for CPT and if the work qualifies for CPT.

    Please note: Twelve months or more of full-time CPT will disqualify you for Optional Practical Training (OPT), however, no amount of part-time CPT will count against the 12-month total for OPT.

    CPT Request Form


    Undergraduate students must be lawfully enrolled in full-time studies for at least one academic year to be eligible for CPT.

    Graduate students can participate in CPT immediately if it is required by the academic program; otherwise, the full-time attendance requirement for one academic year applies.

    How to apply for CPT

    The Designated School Official grants permission to participate in CPT. You must have an offer of employment prior to requesting CPT. Requests for CPT must be made at least 10 business days before you plan to begin the internship or practicum. It is not possible to request retroactive CPT. You will receive a new I-20 authorized for CPT when it is approved and must adhere to the employment authorization detailed on page 2 of the I-20.

    1. Complete the CPT request form with your Academic Advisor
    2. Obtain a letter from your Academic Advisor. It should include the following information, depending on which requirement for CPT it meets:


    CPT that will apply as an internship:

    • Verification of full-time student status
    • Anticipated program completion date
    • Internship course number and title and number of credits
    • A statement that, "The internship is an integral part of the student's curriculum." and a detailed description of how it is directly related to and meets the goals of the class
    • Confirmation that the internship will count towards fulfilling degree requirements
    • Start and End dates of the internship - month, date, and year


    CPT that will apply as a practicum or research for graduate thesis or dissertation:

    • Verification of full-time student status
    • Anticipated program completion date
    • A statement that, "The internship is an integral part of the student's curriculum." and a detailed description of how it is directly related to and meets the goals of the class
    • Start and End dates of the internship - month, date, and year


    1. Obtain a letter from the employer on company letterhead with the following information:
      • Student's job title
      • Student's job responsibilities
      • Start and End dates of the student's employment period - month, date, and year
      • Number of hours per week the student will work
      • Name and contact information for the student's direct supervisor


    1. Meet with the Designated School Official and bring the following documents:
      • CPT Request Form
      • Letter from Academic Advisor
      • Letter from employer

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    The OPT application can be filed online or through U.S. mail. Instructions are included below for each method. Both online and paper forms collect the same information, so choose the method that works best for you. 

    OPT Filing Instructions

    OPT Request Form

     Eligibility Requirements

    • Lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least nine months by the time OPT will begin
    • Does not have 12 months total of full-time CPT
    • Has not used all 12 months of OPT for the current educational level

    A total of 12 months of OPT permitted at each educational level.

     Employment Requirements

    • Start Date: You can begin OPT employment on or after the start date indicated on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS. Work cannot begin before the approved start date printed on the EAD card.
    • Pre-Completion OPT: You may work up to 20 hours during the academic year or full-time during breaks
    • Post-Completion OPT:
      • Required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week
      • Maximum of 90 days unemployment permitted

    Employment must be directly related to your area of study.

    Student Application Process

      1. Review the OPT Filing Instructions document to understand your filing options and required documents.
      2. Gather all documents, make copies or scans, and retain originals.
      3. Inform DSO through email that you have all documents and submit the above information.
      4. If eligible, a DSO submits an OPT recommendation in SEVIS and prints a new OPT I-20.
      5. File your application either online or by mail. USCIS must receive your completed application within 30 days of the I-20 issuance date. 


    OPT Filing Deadlines

    • Students may file for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before the academic program end date, but no later than 60 days after the program end date.

    Standard processing time for OPT applications by USCIS is 60-90 days. This timeframe may vary, so it is recommended to apply early. 

  • STEM Extension

    The STEM extension application can be filed online or through U.S. mail. Instructions are included below for each method. Both online and paper forms collect the same information, so choose the method that works best for you.

    STEM Extension Filing Instructions

    STEM Extension Process

    1. A student with a STEM-qualifying bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from an accredited, SEVIS-certified U.S. educational institution, who is in a valid period of standard post-completion OPT, has an offer of paid employment for at least 20 hours per week from an employer enrolled in E-Verify.
    2. The student and the employer complete a Form I-983 Training Plan, and the student submits the completed plan to the DSO.
    3. The DSO reviews the Form I-983 submitted by the student, and determines that it is "complete, signed, and addresses all program requirements."
    4. The DSO updates the student's SEVIS record with a recommendation for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, and issues a new Form I-20 that reflects the STEM OPT extension recommendation.
    5. Within 60 days of the DSO's recommendation in SEVIS, and before the expiration of the student's post-completion OPT, the student files with USCIS: Form I-765, the Form I-765 filing fee, the STEM OPT Form I-20, and documentation of the STEM degree.
    6. The 24-month STEM OPT extension period begins on the day following the expiration of the student's standard post-completion OPT. If the Form I-765 is still pending as of that date, the student is authorized to continue employment for up to 180 days after the expiration of the student's post-completion OPT.
    7. USCIS will issue an EAD reflecting the approved STEM OPT extension.
    8. Throughout the STEM OPT extension period, the student, employer(s), and school comply with all reporting, training, supervision, evaluation, wage, documentation, and other obligations specified in the regulations and on Form I-983.

    STEM Extension Filing Deadlines

    • Before the expiration of the student's current post-completion OPT (standard or cap-gap), but no sooner than 90 days before that date; and
    • No later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the STEM OPT in SEVIS.

  • SEVP Portal


    The SEVP Portal is a tool that F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) OPT must report changes to their home address, telephone number, and employer information.

    If you are on post-completion or STEM OPT, you are eligible to use the portal. The portal is accessible from both your mobile device and computer. As a student with approved OPT, it is your responsibility to update your employment information within 10 days of any change to your employment or contact information. The SEVP portal allows you to take responsibility for reporting employment or home address changes. Students who are on active post-completion OPT and STEM OPT period will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account. This email will come from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov. This is a free account; no money is charged by the government to open this account.

    The SEVP Portal will send the portal account creation email to the student if:

    1. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) shows that the OPT is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) AND
    2. The OPT is for post-completion or STEM OPT AND
    3. The email is sent on or after the OPT start date as listed on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) otherwise known as OPT card.

    The SEVP Portal will allow students on post-completion OPT to:

    • View details about your post-completion OPT
    • Report changes to your address, telephone and employer information
    • View and update data on all your employers in one place

    The SEVP Portal will allow students on STEM OPT to:

    • View details about your STEM OPT
    • Correct any errors in the employer’s name. The employer name must match the employer that completed the I-983 form
    • Update employer address: this address should reflect the physical location in which the STEM OPT student is employed
    • Job title
    • Update the supervisor information
    • Update full or part-time change: Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM OPT training may be considered a material change to STEM OPT. The student will be required to update the I-983 form.
    • Update employment end date. The student must complete a final evaluation report and submit OISS
    • Update relationship to the field of study: any changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives is considered a material change to STEM OPT. The student will be required to update the I-983 form.

    SEVP has created an SEVP Portal Help (https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help) section on Study in the States with:

  • Off-Campus Employment for Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship

    If you are in F-1 status for an academic year and have good academic standing, you may apply for "off-campus employment based on economic hardship." Documentation would have to show that part-time employment opportunities through on-campus employment were otherwise insufficient. Economic hardship refers to the financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control which arose after obtaining F-1 status. These financial problems may be the result of losing a graduate assistantship, the death of a financial sponsor, inflation in your home country causing the devaluation of currency or exchange rate, etc. If the financial problems are too great, it may not be possible to solve the problem through part-time employment.

    You are required to make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying for off-campus employment based on economic hardship. If the economic hardship clause applies to your situation, please meet with the Designated School Official to request a recommendation for authorization to engage in off-campus employment. You may not work off-campus without special authorization from USCIS; unauthorized off-campus employment will result in termination of status. Please note, if you are authorized to engage in off-campus employment, you may only work part-time during the semester, and must continue to maintain a full-time course load. With authorization, you will be permitted to work full-time during regular university breaks.

    All off-campus employment must be approved by USCIS prior to job search and job placement.

    Students should consult the USCIS I-765 website for the most up-to-date information on forms, filing locations and fees.  

  • Taxes

    If you earn income in the U.S., taxes will be automatically withdrawn from your paycheck to meet tax obligations. In general, you will be exempt from paying Medicare or Social Security taxes. You are not exempt from paying federal, state, or local income taxes. In addition to paying taxes directly from your payroll, you must complete and submit several tax forms to the government.

    You are required to file Form 8843 with the U.S. Federal Government by June 15 every year for the prior tax year, even if you did not earn income. 

    If you earned income in the U.S. in the previous tax year, you might be required to file tax forms based on the amount of income you earned. We recommend that you always file tax forms because you might be entitled to a refund of the taxes you paid. The income tax forms are due on April 15.

    The International Student Services purchases licenses for a tax preparation software for every international student to complete their federal tax forms. You must complete their state and local tax forms on your own.

  • Social Security Number

    If you apply for a driver's license or get a job, you will have to apply for a social security number. It is used for employer payroll, Internal Revenue Service (federal taxes), driver's licenses and credit history.

    If you are applying for a driver's license, but do not have a social security number and have never had a job on campus, you will have to apply for and officially be denied a social security number. If you get a job on campus at a later time, you will have to re-apply for a social security number.

    Instructions for Social Security Number

    Instructions for Social Security Number Rejection

    Follow these instructions to receive a Social Security Rejection Letter:

    Eligibility Requirements:

    • Present in the U.S. for at least 10 days
    • Registered in SEVIS

    Social Security Application Documents:

    • Letter from the Designated School Official
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94
    • Social Security application (get this online at www.ssa.gov)


    • Gather all documents listed above.
    • Go to the Social Security Office.
    • Keep your rejection letter in a safe place so you have it for your Driver’s Permit application.

    Social Security Number Application Process (for Employment)

    You will need a social security number to receive pay for your employment. You will use the same social security number for your entire stay in the U.S. You only need to apply for a social security number one time, when you receive your first job offer. If you get a new or different job, you will use the same social security number. Keep your social security card safe once you receive it.

    There is no fee for the social security application. You must be present in the U.S. for 10 days before applying for a social security number. Social Security offices are located in Reading and Allentown. Allow plenty of time when you plan your trip to the Social Security office, as there may be a long wait time.

    You will need the following items to apply for a social security number:

    • A job offer, in writing on KU letterhead, from the prospective employer (if seeking employment) which includes the following information (sample letters are available upon request from the Office of International Admissions and Services):
      • Your full name
      • A description of the employment
      • Anticipated or actual start date
      • Number of hours you will work per week
      • Employer contact information, including full name and telephone number of immediate supervisor
      • Verification that you have been hired for the position
      • Original signature with signer's title and date
    • A letter from the Designated School Official
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • Form I-20
    • Form I-94 (cbp.gov/i94)
    • Social Security application (get this online at www.ssa.gov)

    Social Security Office Locations

    • Reading and Allentown are closest, but you can go to any Social Security Office.
    • Check Social Security Administration website for hours.
    • Allow a lot of time because there is often a long wait.


    41 N. 4th Street Allentown, PA 18102


    201 Penn Street, Suite 200 Reading, PA 19601