International Student Services

Work Authorizations

Many international students seek internship and employment opportunities during their stay. Both degree-seeking (F-1) and exchange students (J-1) can benefit from working on campus or in the community, with appropriate work authorization. 

There are a variety of campus resources to assist you in the job search, application, and interview process. 

Be aware, it is a crime to work in the United States without proper authorization! It is important to work closely with International Student Services (ISS) when seeking employment on or off-campus to ensure you have the proper authorization.

On-campus employment, refers to positions were UWRF or Chartwells (provider of dining services on-campus) are the employers. Any 'work from home' position or Internet base position do not qualify as an on-campus job.

All international students, under valid F-1 and J-1 visa statuses, are eligible to work on-campus under the supervision of UWRF faculty or staff.  While working on-campus, you are limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session or 40 hours per work during school breaks.

There are a few steps that should be followed in order to secure an on-campus job:

  • Make sure you have a U.S. or American style Resume ready to submit. If you need help writing a U.S. Resume, make sure you attend the various Career Services Events to learn more, visit Career Services Resume Writing page for tips.
  • Use Handshake to find on-campus job opportunities. You can also inquire at different department's main offices to learn about available opportunities that might not be listed in Handshake.
  • If you will be applying to on-campus jobs for the first time and you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), keep in mind that you will need to apply for an SSN before you start working. You will need an SSN in order to complete any hiring process. Refer to the Social Security Number section below, for more information.
  • Complete the necessary paperwork for the hiring process.


  • J-1 students must have authorization from the program sponsor that issued their form DS-2019 to work on campus. This employment authorization is for a specific job at a specific location and must be renewed every year, or for every new campus job. On campus employment, for J-1 visa holders, must be reported into SEVIS, please visit with your RO/ARO at ISSS for further details.
  • F-1 and J-1 visa holders, are not eligible to apply for work-study positions.


Career Services
Detailed information about finding a career or internships. Tips for improving your interview skills and developing a resume and portfolio.

Find on-campus and off-campus jobs and internships. The Handshake program acts as a liaison between employers who are posting job opportunities and candidates who are looking for employment.

Practical Training

**F-1 students may engage in off-campus employment under authorized Practical Training**

Practical Training authorization, allows eligible F-1 students to gain practical experience in their fields when they engage in part-time or full-time employment that is directly related to your major area of study.

Students first need to be enrolled for at least two semesters or one full academic year before they are eligible to apply for Practical Training. Students must be in active F-1 status and in good academic standing.

There are three main types of Practical Training for F-1 students:

  • Curricular Practical Training
  • Optional Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT authorization allows for employment that is a required part of the official curriculum, to take place during your academic program or prior to your program end date. This kind of authorization is available only in the special situation when the employment is an integral part of your established curriculum. For example, as a credit bearing internship, student teaching, or practicum. You might be eligible to apply for CPT authorization after you have been enrolled for at least two semesters or one full academic year under F-1 visa status. The exception exists for graduate F-1 students in programs that require training to take place during the first year of enrollment.

CPT authorization is not limited in duration, but a student who receives 12 months or more of full-time CPT authorization may not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which is explained below. 


You must receive CPT authorization from your DSO and a new I-20, listing your CPT authorization dates and employer, prior to your CPT start date.

To learn more about CPT, review the Curricular Practical Training Checklist and visit your DSO at ISSS.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT authorization allows for temporary employment, up to 12 months, to take place in positions that are directly related to your major field of study. The OPT authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The employment authorization application process, is an adjudicated process that could take several months. It is important for you to work closely with your DSO at ISSS, to ensure your application is accurate and complete prior to submitting that to USCIS. Your DSO must recommend your OPT in SEVIS prior to you submitting your application to USCIS.


You must receive OPT authorization in writing as well as the Employment Authorization Card (EAD card) from USCIS before you can begin employment.

You do not have to have a job offer to apply for OPT.

Types of OPT
  1. Pre-completion OPT: This is OPT that takes place during the academic program or prior to the program end date. You may apply for part or all of your OPT period to be used before you complete your UWRF course of study. You could apply for full-time Pre-completion OPT for employment taking place during school breaks. Pre-completion OPT could also be used part-time (20 hours per week or less) while you are taking classes and school is in session, but keep in mind that you must maintain full-time enrollment.  
  2. Post-completion OPT: You may apply for OPT to be used upon completion of your UWRF degree. You can apply for OPT no more than 90 days prior to your program end date and no later than 60 days after the program end date. During Post-completion OPT, maintaining your F-1 status is dependent upon employment. You may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during the 12 months of your post-completion OPT. To learn more about Post-Completion OPT, review the OPT Application Checklist and visit your DSO at ISSS.


F-1 students who have received degrees in certain areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and who are currently participating in Post-Completion OPT might be eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM OPT program.

Similar to OPT, the STEM OPT authorization is provided for temporary employment in positions that are directly related to your major field of study. The STEM OPT authorization is also granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the employment authorization application process.


You must be employed and your employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify program (employment eligibility verification program) for you to be able to apply for STEM OPT. Along with your employer, you must complete the form I-983 "Training Plan for STEM OPT Students" and submit this to your DSO for review and approval. Your DSO must recommend your STEM OPT in SEVIS prior to you submitting your application to USCIS.

To learn more about STEM OPT, review the STEM OPT Checklist and visit your DSO at ISSS.

For any authorized paid opportunity, either on campus jobs or off campus training, international students must have a Social Security Number (SSN). Here are a few things you need to know about the SSN:

  • SSN is a unique 9-digit number that allows the federal government to identify individuals and properly record their wages, income or earnings.
  • The SSN is not a work permit.
  • International students are eligible to apply for an SSN for employment purposes only.
  • International students must have a job offer prior to applying for an SSN.
  • If eligible, international students will be able to apply for an SSN as early as 30 days prior to the employment start date.
  • More information about SSN for noncitizens can be found here

How to Apply

To apply for an SSN international students will need to gather the following documentation:

  1. Support Letter

The letter will be written by ISSS and signed by both the supervisor and ISSS. Supervisors will need to contact ISSS with the following information: 

  • Position title
  • Potential start date
  • Number of hours the student will be working per week (range is acceptable too)
  • Supervisor's name
  • Supervisor's title and phone number
  1. Current valid I-20
  2. Most Recent I-94
  3. Valid passport and visa
  4. Complete the online application process at:
  5. After submitting the online application, you must attend an in-person appointment with the local Social Security Office within 45 days of submitting your online application. You must present all the original documents listed above

The Local Social Security Office is located at:

4120 Oakwood Hills Pkwy
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Phone: 1-866-815-2924
Hours: Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Volunteering during your program of study at UWRF is a great way to meet people, practice your English, learn about American culture, and make a contribution to the surrounding community. As an international student, you can volunteer for as many hours as you wish within reason as long as long as you are engaging in an actual volunteer position and the experience is unpaid.

At the university, there are many ways to get involved. You can learn about different volunteer opportunities through Handshake.

Here are some important reminders if you plan on volunteering:

  • You cannot receive any form of taxable income from your volunteer activity.
  • If the volunteer position is one for which an employer would otherwise officially hire someone, you may work there only with all necessary employment authorization.
  • Please talk to your DSO at ISSS if you are unsure the volunteer position complies with your student status.

Contact Us

International Student Services
174 Rodli Hall

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