Employment for International Students

International Students (F-1) have options for employment in the United States, see below for details. 

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is available for students upon enrollment at Onondaga Community College without special work authorization required. Contact our Career Services office at careerservices@sunyocc.edu or (315) 498-2585. They can assist you with finding employment opportunities on campus.

In order to be eligible to work on-campus at OCC, you must have a valid Form I-20 issued by OCC, be enrolled in a full course of study and maintain your F-1 status. There are certain regulations that must be followed:

  • F-1 students can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and a maximum of 40 hours per week during school breaks.
  • F-1 students are not eligible for "federal work study" positions on campus, as this is a federal financial aid program available only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
  • Your on-campus work eligibility will expire when you graduate or on the program end date of your Form I-20. If you transfer to another college or university in the U.S., your work authorization at OCC expires on the day of your SEVIS record release date. If you don't maintain your F-1 status, your work eligibility ends.

Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus employment is not permitted without first obtaining the required work authorization from International Student Services. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an option for pursuing internships off-campus, while Optional Practical Training (OPT) is for employment authorization after graduation. See below for details.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a temporary authorization for off-campus work which is directly related to your major or field of study. Practical training can include employment, an internship experience or required for your program. It can be paid or unpaid. CPT must be authorized by International Student Services. Please schedule an appointment with International Student Services to discuss this option in more detail. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is an opportunity to apply for work authorization in the United States that is directly related to your academic field of study (major). Post-completion OPT gives F-1 students the opportunity to work for up to 12 months in their field of study following completion of their degree program. 

Unlike CPT which is authorized by International Student Services, OPT authorization requires you to receive a recommendation from International Student Services AND submit an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Application approval takes approximately 3 months, please schedule an appointment with International Student Services at the beginning of your final semester to discuss this option. 


If you plan to work while in the U.S., you will need to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN). F-1 students may only obtain a SSN for employment purposes. You are not eligible to apply for a SSN unless you have a job offer. Schedule an appointment with International Student Services for further assistance.

NOTE: A SSN is not needed to apply for a driver's license. Please contact International Student Services for assistance with the process of obtaining a NYS driver's license.

All international students are required to file U.S. tax forms each year. Tax reporting is required even if you have not worked. All international students are required to file tax forms to the U.S. Government (IRS) in the spring of each year, for the previous tax year. They are due by April 15. International Student Services will email you each spring semester with instructions for required tax filings.

Off-campus employment is a benefit available for some F-1 students who are experiencing an economic hardship. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) defines "severe economic hardship" as a financial condition caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control that make it difficult for a student to continue education in the U.S. These conditions may include:

  • Death or severe illness of financial sponsor
  • Substantial changes to currency/exchange rates upon which the student depends
  • Natural disaster (such as earthquake, hurricane, tsunami) in the student's home country which impacts the family and financial sponsorship
  • Medical bills for the student or financial sponsor
  • Unexpected changes in the financial state of the student's source of support.

This application approval process takes 3 months or more and is reviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Students must have completed at least 1 year in F-1 status to apply. If approved, students are required to maintain full-time enrollment and can work up to 20 hours per week during the semesters and full-time during school breaks. Approved students can work anywhere; not limited to the student's field of study. Please schedule an appointment with International Student Services for assistance.