Working in the U.S.


International students interested in working in the U.S. should attend the Employment Workshop for International Students offered in the first week of February and September.  The Career Center at Cañada College also offers workshops throughout the semester on how to create a resume and cover letter and tips on interviewing.

***International students MAY NOT work off-campus without obtaining employment authorization.  Please check with the International Student Center before engaging in any off-campus employment.  International students who work without employment authorization will be terminated of their F-1 student status.***

On-Campus Employment

International students may work on campus up to 20 hours per week. Employment authorization is not required but international students are not eligible for work study positions that are federally funded by the U.S. government. Students must have a social security number (SSN) to work on-campus and may apply for an SSN, once an on-campus job is offered.  On campus employment includes Student Assistants in the Bookstore and Library, Tutors in the Learning Center and STEM Center, and Ambassadors in the International Student Center and Outreach Program.

Off-Campus Employment

International students on F-1 student status are not eligible to work off-campus without employment authorization.  After completing two semesters as an F-1 student, students may apply for employment authorization under Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training or Severe Economic Hardship.  Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week during the semester.  Students may work more than 20 hours per week during the summer.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

International students currently enrolled at Cañada College may apply for employment authorization under CPT with the following eligibility requirements:

  • Students must have an employment offer that is related to your major.
  • Students must enroll in cooperative education, practicum or internship units.
  • Students must submit a request to ISC for an I-20 with CPT employment authorization before starting any work.  Submit copies of cooperative education/practicum/internship forms.

CPT authorization is provided on a semester basis.  If students continue to work with the same employer in the following semester, you must request CPT employment authorization for each semester.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

International students who have completed an associate degree may apply for 12-months of employment authorization under OPT after completing an associate degree.  The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • The work experience must be related to your major.
  • You must attend an OPT Information Session in your last semester.
  • You must submit an application and $340 fee to USCIS requesting employment authorization under OPT and may not start working until an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card is received from USCIS.

Students should apply for OPT at the beginning of their last semester by making an appointment with ISC.  International students who are approved for OPT will be granted 12 months of employment authorization that can start anytime during your 60 day grace period.  Students must report all employment to ISC to maintain F-1 immigration status.  If students are unemployed for more than 90 days, your F-1 immigration status will be terminated.

Severe Economic Hardship (SEH)

International students who are experiencing severe economic hardship may apply for employment authorization with the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be able to present documentation of unforeseen, severe economic hardship.
  • You must submit an application and $340 fee to USCIS requesting employment authorization and may not start working until an EAD card is received from USCIS.


Employment Documents

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is for income tax purposes only and international students are eligible to apply for a SSN only when they obtain employment on campus or employment authorization for off-campus work.  For information on how to obtain an SSN, click here.  Once international students obtain an SSN, they must present it to their employer and they must submit tax forms every year they are present in the U.S.


F-1 international students are required to file U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms for each year you are present in the U.S. (Form 8843 and/or 1040NR/1040NR-EZ). The International Student Center will provide workshops on how to submit tax forms in the spring semester.  Cañada College faculty and staff cannot and does not provide any type of tax advice.  Information regarding tax obligations are provided on an informational basis only.  For more detailed information, including tax treaties and types of income subject to reporting, please visit the IRS Publication 519 Tax Guide for Aliens.

Information on How to Complete Employment Documents

Instructions for Students on how to complete Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate

Instructions for Employers on how to complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

  • Documents needed to complete Form I-9 include the student's passport, I-94 record downloaded from, and the student's I-20 or USCIS employment authorization document.  For on campus employment, students are only eligible to work at the school listed on their I-20.  For off-campus employment, please find the employer-specific Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization on the 2nd page of the I-20.

Sample Employment Offer Letter Required to Apply for an SSN