F-1 Employment Options

Working on campus is permitted, but during the fall and spring, on-campus employment is limited to twenty hours per week.

Important Note: If you are taking classes in the summer, it is best not to work full-time while your class is in session. Even though summer is typically a vacation term for the university, if you are enrolled in classes, a strict interpretation of on-campus employment regulations indicates that you should limit your work to 20 hours while class is in session. This is particularly important if you are graduating at the end of summer since the U.S. government likely considers your graduation term an academic, not vacation term. You must also stop working once your program is complete.

Working off-campus ALWAYS requires written permission, either from an OIPS advisor on your I-20 (p. 2) or from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Never work off-campus, even for a few days, until you have the written permission you need.

F-1 Employment Timeline

The employment timeline shows you when you may be eligible for certain immigration benefits.

Employment Timeline

Some exceptions may apply.  Schedule an appointment with an OIPS F-1 advisor to discuss your situation.

* The length of OPT is 12 months for each level of study. If you engage in pre-completion OPT, your eligible period of post-completion OPT will be reduced by one month for every two months of part-time pre-completion OPT that is worked when you graduate. For example, if you engage in four months of part-time pre-completion OPT, you will remain with only 10 months of post-completion OPT.
** The 24-month STEM OPT Extension is for students who majored in designated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees approved by DHS. This type of OPT is a 24-month extension of OPT.

Explore F-1 Employment Options


We invite you to explore the various F-1 employment options. You will learn about eligibility requirements, the application process and how to apply for a social security number (SSN).

US Taxation of International Visitors


The basics:

  • US sourced income is potentially taxed and reportable*
  • US income is taxed based upon the person’s tax status and the income type
  • Anyone with reportable income is required to have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer ID Number
  • Anyone receiving income from Mason should visit the International Tax Office

Click here to learn more about US taxation for international visitors.

*U.S. sourced income is any payment from sources within the U.S.  Examples include wages and salary income paid by a U.S. employer, payments for services performed in the U.S., scholarships paid by U.S. Grantors.

Erin’s Tip

Erin Dunleavy is an international student advisor in OIPS.  She is originally from Michigan and joined the OIPS team in 2009.

"I encourage you to explore the F-1 employment options (on-campus employment, CPT, OPT, etc.) BEFORE you meet with an OIPS advisor.  This will enable you to ask very specific questions during your appointment and maximize your opportunities at Mason.  If you do not know where to start, I advise you first review the web page Comparison of F-1 Employment Options.  This page gives you an overview of the different employment options, including eligibility requirements, advantages and disadvantages."

Useful Links

You might also be interested in the following links: