Comparison of F-1 Employment Options

 On-Campus EmploymentCurricular Practical Training (CPT)Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Eligibility RequirementsMust maintain legal F-1 status1. Must be a full-time student in the US in a valid non-immigrant status for at least one full academic year at the time of application

2. Must be in F-1 status for at least one full academic semester at the time of application

3. Must be in degree status for at least one academic year (INTO Mason Pathway program is considered as non-degree, and therefore, time as an INTO Mason Pathway student does not count toward the one academic year requirement)

4. Training opportunity must be tied to course enrollment
1. Must be a full-time student in the US in a valid non-immigrant status for at least one academic year at the time of application

2. Must be in F-1 status at time of application

3. Must be in degree status for at least one academic year (INTO Mason Pathway program is considered as non-degree, and therefore, time as an INTO Mason Pathway student does not count toward the one academic year requirement)
TimelineBefore completion of program onlyBefore completion of program onlyBefore completion of program (pre-completion OPT)

After completion of program (post-completion OPT)
Maximum LengthMax. 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Full-time work allowed during school breaks in winter, spring and summerMax. 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Full-time work allowed during summer onlyMax. 12 months (If STEM eligible, student may apply for an additional 24 months if they have an e-verify employer and are working 20 or more hours per week)

Pre-completion OPT: full-time during summer break and part-time during fall and spring semesters

Post-completion OPT: full-time or part-time
PermissionNo permission required (INTO Mason students need to request permission from their academic advisor before they begin work)Permission from OIPS required
Permission from USCIS required
Other RequirementsWork does not have to be related to the field of study

Employment must be located at Fairfax, SciTech or Arlington campuses

Work should be related to the field of study AND integral to the established curriculum

Job offer required

Student must be enrolled in internship/practicum course or in Thesis/Dissertation credits
Work should be related to the field of study


No job offer required
Application Processing TimeN.A.Application approval takes 3-4 weeks

Application approval can take 3-5 months

ImportantN.A.Full-time CPT for 12 months or more disqualifies the student from OPT
Time used before completion of study (pre-completion OPT) will be deducted from the maximum 12-month limit

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