International Students

International students may encounter more of a challenge in securing co-op or full-time jobs than most U.S./full-time residents. We’ll help you learn more about documentation, visas and permits, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policies.

Job Search

Many employers use the co-op program to transition students into a full-time role post-graduation. In order to beat your U.S. competition, your qualifications need to be far superior. It’s recommended that international students meet with their Career Services Coordinator two semesters before they intend to co-op or graduate for the best outcome.

It should also be noted that all jobs with the federal government require U.S. citizenship. Companies who have contracts with the government also require U.S. citizenship, with little flexibility to hire permanent residents.

Interstride is a one-stop-shop that empowers students to thrive internationally. Access immigration information, current news articles, webinars, search for jobs and co-ops, and network with fellow international students and alumni.


Social Security Card

In order to work in the United States, you must have a social security number and card. Find applications at the ISS Office and/or go to the Social Security Office in Rochester. The process takes two to six weeks to complete.

You will need:

  • Passport
  • I-94
  • I-20 or IAP-66
  • A letter from an international student advisor

Social Security Office
100 State St
Rochester, NY 14614

Immigration Issues

All international students need to have written authorization before starting off-campus work.

Written authorization can be from either:

  • An international student advisor
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  

Starting work without authorization violates your immigration status and you will not be to apply for reinstatement of status from within the United States.

Practical Training

According to the regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency for students with F-1 status, all work-related, educational experience requires either “curricular practical training” or “optional practical training” employment authorization.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be in your field of study and an integral part of an established curriculum. This may be mandatory or optional co-op, internship, or practicum. To be eligible for CPT, you must have F-1 status and have completed at least two terms of full-time study in the U.S.

As soon as an offer of employment is accepted, but at least one week before employment begins:

  • Report your co-op 
  • Register for co-op through your academic department
  • Make an appointment to see your international student advisor to obtain work authorization. Bring your I-20 and offer of employment to the appointment.

You may be authorized for whatever amount of CPT your degree requires. However, if you have been authorized for more than 364 days, you will be ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you have any questions, please contact your Career Services Coordinator for more information.

To be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must obtain employment in your field of study, have F-1 status, and have completed at least one academic year (9 months) of full-time study in the U.S. A total of 12 months of OPT is allowed for F-1 students.

OPT can occur:

  • Part-time during the academic year
  • After completion of all course work
  • Before completion of a thesis or project for graduate students
  • After completing your degree

In the case of certain STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math), students may also be eligible to extend their OPT for an additional 24 months.

Meet with your International Student Advisor to complete the necessary forms and obtain the necessary recommendation. Apply to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services for the specific time of employment.

Learn More about Optional Practical Training

For students holding J-1 Visas, regulations for off-campus employment differ from those with F-1 status. Students on J-1 Visas must have written authorization to work off-campus.

Some students holding J-1 visas might qualify to work under academic training for up to 18 months, or the duration of their academic program, whichever is shorter. Meet with your International Student Advisor to obtain information on authorization for co-op or work authorization/academic training after graduation.

Work after Graduation

If you plan to stay in the U.S. after graduation on a temporary or permanent basis, you will want to obtain a temporary working permit (H-1B). Immigration law refers to H-1B workers in “specialty occupations.” Specialty occupations include most jobs for which a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a specific field is necessary for employment. For example, someone receiving a master’s in computer engineering could obtain an H-1B for a role as a software engineer.

In order to obtain H-1B status, you must first have an offer of employment. There are then specific steps, which the employer must take. You may be in H-1B status for up to six years.

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International Student Services

Further information regarding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policies on employment, federal and state taxes, obtaining a social security number, and special co-op employment needs of international students, consult with International Student Services.