Many international students in the United States on an F-1 visa are eager to get out of the classroom to join the American workforce. After graduation, these international students – many of whom come from less fortunate backgrounds – seek to give back to the local American community that has provided so many opportunities, and to many clients of nonprofit organizations in this writer – religious organizations, churches and social service providers – are also keen to bring these international students into the fold of the workplace.


An F-1 visa is probably not an appropriate vehicle for an international student’s post-graduation work in the United States.

Student visas (F-1) are authorized by the United States Code (8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(F)) – “an alien with a residence in a foreign country that he does not intention to withdraw, who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and who is seeking entry into the United States temporarily and uniquely for the purpose of pursuing such a program of study . . . at a workbench [and qualified and approved] college, university, seminary, conservatory, college high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in an accredited language training program in the United States. . . ”) (emphasis added).

The Regulations (specifically, 8 CFR 214.2(F)(9)) permit limit conditions under which a student holding an F-1 visa can work – on campus and off campus –during the student’s course of study. Additionally, if the student’s spouse is present on an F-2 visa (as the spouse of an F-1 visa holder), “[t]The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student cannot accept employment. To see 8 CFR 214.2(F)(15)(i).

Thus, a person who is present in the United States on an F-1 visa and has completed the applicable course study is not permitted to work in the United States, absent proper approval.

See permission information here.

The regulations governing the authorization of F-1 visas allow qualified “optional practical training” (OPT) up to 14 months (subject to conditions for extension to 24 months) after completion of the study program, but the student must apply for temporary employment authorization for optional practical training directly related to the student’s main field of study. “The student may only start the optional practical training after the date shown on his employment authorization document, Form I-766. » To see 8 CFR 214.2(F)(10)(ii) (further providing that an F-1 student may engage in OPT”[a]after completion of the study program . . . ”) (emphasis added). To see OPT information here; Temporary workers (non-immigrants) | USCIS at footnote 1 (“Only a few nonimmigrant classifications allow you to work in this country without an employer first filing a petition on your behalf. These classifications include nonimmigrant classifications E-1, E-2, E-3 and TN, as well as, in some cases the F-1 and classifications of M-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors. “).

This is just one high-level area for an F-1 visa student (or their potential employer) to consider. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency, as well as the Department of State, provide plenty of advice on this. However, there are many nuances in the current Regulations (i.e. straight) that may create legal barriers, or that may provide a legal avenue for an opportunity for international students in the United States in the course of study who wish to give back in the form of employment. With careful attention to the permissions granted by the Regulations, an international student and local employer can strategically and legally ensuring that a potential employer-employee relationship remains within the safeguards constructed by US law.

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