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International Student Employment

Group of International Students

Employment for F-1 Students

Students on an F-1 visa have various employment options on- and off-campus. It is your responsibility as an F-1 student to become familiar with the employment information included on this page.

If you are a student interested in working on-campus, you will want to access the TMCC Student Job Board listing available jobs on-campus. 

However, if you are interested in working off-campus, please consult with International Admissions before beginning any type of off-campus work. Working without proper authorization for any length of time, even one day, can have very serious consequences on a student’s immigration status in the U.S. If you have questions related to F-1 employment eligibility, contact us.

Employment Options

On-Campus Employment

  • No special work authorization is required to begin on-campus employment. Students need to follow the required steps to obtain a Social Security number:
    • Complete a Student Request for Letter‌ for a social security support letter
    • Submit completed Student Request for Letter and official job offer letter to International Admissions staff (located in the Admissions and Records Office, RDMT 319).
    • Take Social Security recommendation letter from TMCC and official job offer letter to the local Social Security Office.
    • Note: F-1 students without a job offer letter do not qualify for a Social Security Number.
  • Must make normal progress towards program completion:
    • Enroll in 12 credits every semester during the academic year.
    • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
  • During the academic year (Spring and Fall Semesters), students can work up to 20 hours per week (i.e., part-time).
  • During official vacation periods (e.g., Summer), students can work more than 20 hours per week (i.e., full-time).
  • On-campus work is limited to one of the five TMCC locations: Dandini Campus, William N. Pennington Health Science Center, Meadowood Center, Applied Technology Center, Nell J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center.
  • In the case of TMCC program completion or violation of F-1 status, the student is no longer eligible for on-campus employment.
  • To continue working on-campus after completing their academic program at TMCC, students first need to apply for OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Off-Campus Employment

To qualify for off-campus employment, F-1 students must be:

  • Enrolled full-time for one academic year
  • In good academic standing (minimum 2.0 GPA)
  • In valid F-1 immigration status

Practical Training

Training that’s related to the student’s major field of study, as indicated on the student’s I-20. To begin employment, prior authorization is required from International Admissions staff, and in some cases, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

This type of work authorization is only available while the student is a student at TMCC and is enrolled in credits approved by TMCC in relation to the CPT work. Authorization is provided by TMCC for a specific employment offer and the student can only work at the authorized CPT employer during the authorized dates of CPT employment.

View the CPT Application Process and Form »

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

This type of work authorization is to be used after successful completion of a TMCC degree. To begin work on OPT, TMCC students must receive an OPT recommendation from International Admissions staff before applying to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for their license to work on OPT, which is in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

OPT is limited to a maximum of 12 months, with a maximum of 90 days of unemployment.

View the OPT Application Process and Form »

Economic Hardship

This type of work authorization is limited to students who can demonstrate unforeseen economic hardship. To apply, a student needs to request a recommendation from International Admissions staff and provide compelling evidence (i.e., official documentation) of unanticipated financial need before they submit their application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The application process generally takes 3 months. Work does not have to be related to the student’s field of study. During the authorized period of economic hardship, a student can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (Spring and Fall) and full-time (over 20 hours per week) during official school breaks or vacation periods.