Current International Students

Employment Issues: F-1 Status

A non-immigrant who is permitted to engage in employment may engage only in such employment as has been authorized. Any unauthorized employment by a nonimmigrant constitutes a failure to maintain status.

The following four types of employment are explained below :

  1. On-Campus Employment
  2. Economic Hardship (Off Campus Work)
  3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  4. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  5. H-1B and OPT Cap-Gap​

1. On-Campus Employment

Students are not required to obtain any special authorization to work on campus. Students may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the semester and full-time (21 hour per week or more) during the annual vacation and semester breaks.

On-campus employment is generally not permitted after you graduate. However, you may continue to work on campus:

  • if you have completed a UM-D degree and have applied for another degree at UM-D and have received a new I-20 for the new program.
  • if you have a new I-20 from a different school, you may work on campus at either school until classes begin at the new school.

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements

  • Maintenance of lawful F-1 status

Maximum Length

  • Up to 20 hours per week during the semester
  • Full-time work allowed during the annual vacation and semester breaks

Advantages

Before completion of study:

  • No permission required
  • Work doesn't have to be related to field of study

Disadvantages

  • Employment must be located on the UM-Dearborn campus

Documentation Required

  • SEVIS I-20
  • Valid passport
  • I-94 card

2. Economic Hardship (Off Campus Work)

Students who suffer economic hardship due to unforeseen financial circumstances beyond their control may apply to the USCIS for authorization to work off campus or on campus for more than 20 hours. The student must have been in F-1 status for one academic year. Examples of unforeseen financial circumstances include unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, etc.

The request must be submitted to the International Office along with the required documentation listed below. Be aware that it may take more than three months to be issued the EAD.

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements

  • One academic year in F-1 status
  • Employment will not interfere with full course of study

Maximum Length

  • Available only before completion of study

Advantages

  • Work does not have to be related to field of study

Disadvantages

  • Must demonstrate severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances

Documentation Required

  • SEVIS I-20
  • Form I-765 and fee
  • 2 special photos
  • Supporting documentation

Additional information and application packet (PDF format)

3. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students may request authorization from the International Office to participate in CPT if they have been enrolled at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for at least nine consecutive months (or are in a course of study requiring an internship at the beginning of your program) and an internship or cooperative education program is integral to the established curriculum of your academic department. Required internships must be clearly identified and described in the course catalogue or similar publication. CPT may be authorized on either a full-time or part-time basis. Part-time CPT must be undertaken concurrently with a full course of study. Full-time CPT does not require full-time enrollment.

Students who have been authorized for one year or more of full-time CPT are no longer eligible for OPT.

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements

  • Full time student for one academic year
  • Necessary to complete graduation requirements or an integral part of the curriculum
  • Available only before completion of study

Maximum Length

  • Part time or full time unlimited

Advantages

  • No fee
  • Authorization given by International Office

Disadvantages

  • Full-time CPT for 12 months or more disqualifies the student from OPT
  • Job offer required
  • Must be enrolled in the eligible course while engaging in CPT

Documentation Required

  • SEVIS I-20
  • Student Request for CPT form (included in application packet)
  • Job offer
  • Course description
  • Proof of registration
  • Academic/Faculty Adviser Verification Form (included in application packet)

Additional information and application packet (PDF format)

4. Optional Practical Training (OPT)

After a student has been enrolled full time at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for at least nine consecutive months, they may apply to the USCIS for up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization to accept employment related to your field of study. Full-time or part-time OPT is available: after completion of a course of study, and before completion of studies if engaged in thesis or dissertation research.

Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month OPT maximum at the rate of one month for every two months of part-time OPT authorization. Although full-time or part-time OPT authorization is also available during the summer and during breaks (and on a part-time basis during the regular academic year), it is rarely sought due to the lengthy time required for USCIS issuance of the required Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Eligibility Criteria and Requirements

  • Full time UM-Dearborn student for at least one academic year can do:
    • Part/full time during summer vacation; or
    • Part time while schools in session; or
    • Part or full time after completion of coursework (excluding thesis or the equivalent); or
    • Full time after completion of study

Maximum Length

  • 12 months
  • Part time will be deducted at one half the full time rate
  • Must apply before completion of study

Advantages

  • No job offer required
  • Flexible

Disadvantages

  • Time used before completion of study will be subtracted from 12 months
  • Work should be related to the field of study
  • Adjudication

Documentation Required

  • SEVIS I-20
  • Form I-765 and fee
  • 2 special photos
  • Student Request for OPT form
  • OPT Acknowledgment form (included in application packet)
  • Your passport
  • Most recent I-94 card

Additional information and application instructions (PDF format)

5. H-1B and OPT Cap-Gap​

Cap Gap Extensions

A cap-gap extension automatically extends an eligible F-1 student’s status to bridge the gap between the end of OPT (F-1 status) and start of H-1B status, thereby allowing the student to remain in the US and continue working during the “gap.” The cap-gap extension is available to students who, as of April 1st, were either on approved OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status October 1 H-1B petition with the USCIS. 

This cap-gap extension will produce one of two outcomes, depending on your individual situation:

Extension of your OPT work authorization to September 30. This happens if your approved OPT end date (on your EAD card) is April 1st or later and your employer files an H1B petition prior to your OPT end date. 

OR

Extension of your F-1 “duration of status.”  If your OPT expired before April 1st or your employer files an H1B petition during your 60-day grace period, you are allowed to stay in the US if you otherwise maintain your F-1 status, but you are not authorized to work until the H-1B petition is approved and goes into effect October 1.

Who is eligible for the extension?

Students in all fields of study are eligible for the cap-gap extension as long as the student has not violated the terms or conditions of his or her F-1 status.  To qualify for the extension, the student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

1. Is subject to the H1B cap (petitions filed by "cap exempt" employers do not qualify)

2. Has been timely filed (within the acceptance period)

3. Requests an employment start date of October 1

4. Requests a change of status (rather than consular processing)

How do I obtain a Cap-Gap I-20?

There is no application process for the cap-gap extension.  If your H1B petition has been received or approved your SEVIS record should automatically reflect the cap gap extension and your work authorization or F-1 will be extended to September 30. 

Once you or your employer have received the H1B receipt notice, you may contact the Office of International Affairs by email at umdoia-international to request a cap gap I-20.  Please include the following information in the email with "Cap-Gap Extension" in the subject line:

SEVIS number

Your Last name

Your First name

Scan and attach to the email:

A clear, legible copy of your EAD card

A copy of the I-797 Receipt notice from USCIS or USCIS approval notice

Indicate whether you would like to pick up your document or have it mailed to you. If mailed, include your address.

What happens if my H-1B is denied after receiving the cap-gap extension?

If the student’s H-1B is denied, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to depart the US. However, if a denial is based on a discovered status violation, no such grace period exists and the student must leave the US immediately.

Additional information on the Cap Gap Extension.

 

Travel and Re-Entry to the U.S. While on OPT

Proposed Changes to the STEM Extension of OPT