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Career Information for International Students


  • MassBay students and alumni can schedule 1:1 online, phone, or in-person appointments for individualized assistance

  • If you need an appointment before 9am or after 5pm or are having difficulty navigating our appointment platform--
         ⇒ Let us know by emailing us at: and we will coordinate a time by email and do our best to accommodate your schedule. 

Schedule a Career Services Appointment →

Students on an F-1 visa may qualify to work in the U.S. under the specific circumstances described below. To work in the U.S., you must apply for a Social Security Number. You must contact Claudia Ortiz, with questions about whether your status qualifies you to work and for assistance with the paperwork necessary to obtain a social security number and work in the U.S.

Please also reference the Department of Homeland Security's website for accurate and current information. The following information is meant as a guide to help familiarize you with possible options, but is not legally binding and accuracy is not guaranteed. 



On-Campus Employment


As an international student on a F-1 visa, you are allowed to work on campus, including in any College office or department, at the bookstore, and in the cafeteria. However, you are not able to work in any position that is qualified as “federal work study” (marked as FWS) as those positions are federally funded and are not open for international students.

You may not work more than 20 hours a week during academic sessions. You are permitted to work up to 40 hours per week during the summer.

Please see our STUDENT EMPLOYMENT page for more information about these opportunities.


Off-Campus Employment


International students on F-1 visas may accept work off campus ONLY in the following circumstances:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Severe Economic Hardship (approvals are determined by USCIS on a case-by-case basis)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

Homeland Security's Guide to CPT

Are you an International Student Interested in Participating in an Internship? 

STEP 1: Determine if you are eligible to participate in CPT (internship)

  • CPT is an off-campus employment option for international students on F-1 visas. Students can only participate if the practical training is an integral part of your program curriculum. CPT employment is defined as “alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.”
  • You need to have been in the US for a full academic year (2 semesters) on an F1 Visa in order to participate in a CPT (internship).
  • Please see MassBay's list of majors that have required or optional internships as part of their program. If you have questions about whether you can participate in a CPT with your major, please contact Career Services - for guidance. 
  • As in International Student you must be registered for this course and work with a faculty member to fulfill academic requirements. You will pay for the internship course; the cost is dependent on the number of credits.
  • For important information on securing a faculty sponsor and the structure of internships, please refer to our Internship page (under STEP 1: Determine whether your Internship will be non-credit bearing or academic (for credit) --> Academic (For-Credit) Internships and Practicums)
  • You can be paid, but the work experience must be required for your degree, or academic credit must be awarded.
  • You must be enrolled in full-time courses for one year in which you maintained your F-1 status.
  • You must be approved by MassBay, have a CPT qualified job offer, and job details prior to applying for authorization.


STEP 2: Schedule an appointment with Career Services via Handshake (see directions) or by emailing to review the process of preparing, finding and securing an internship.  


STEP 3: Once you receive an internship offer:

  • You will provide the Internship Site Supervisor's contact information (*important to include email) to the Career Services' Staff Representative you have been working with.
  • Career Services will send an email with the Student Internship Agreement to be signed by you (the student), the Site Supervisor, Faculty Sponsor, Principal Designated Official/Designated School Official (Admissions Staff Members: Claudia Ortiz, Alison McCarty or Peter Schilling), Advisor, and Dean of their Academy.  


STEP 4: Designated School Official (Admissions Staff Members: Claudia Ortiz, Alison McCarty or Peter Schilling) will issue the I-20 for the student and will send an email to MassBay Registrar to enroll student in the internship course. *DSO will copy on the email.


*The student CANNOT start the internship without completing ALL these steps.


Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Homeland Security's Guide to OPT 

  • If you are in the US and have a valid F-1 immigration status, you may be permitted to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status both during and after completion of your degree.
  • Rules established by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) govern the implementation of OPT, and all OPT employment requires prior authorization from USCIS and from MassBay’s International Student Advisor.
  • You may apply for OPT after 9 months of school enrollment, but you cannot begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS and have been enrolled in school for at least one year. You do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT or your EAD. OPT employment can occur anywhere in the US and is typically 12-months long.

 OPT prior to completing a degree:

  • Students must be enrolled in school full-time.
  • Students may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • Students may work full-time during summer and other breaks (as long as the student will return to school after the break

OPT after completing a degree:

  • OPT work must be full time (40 hours/week).
  • All OPT must be completed within 14 months after completion of your degree.
  • Applications for post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS before the completion of the degree.


Severe Economic Hardship

Any F-1 student suffering from “severe economic hardship” as defined by USCIS is eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and may work fulltime during breaks. Approvals are determined by USCIS on a case-by-case basis

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond your control
  • Show that on-campus employment is unavailable or insufficient
  • Show that you have made an effort to locate employment on campus prior to applying

For more details on what qualifies as severe economic hardship, please see information under "Basic Guidelines" on this PAGE


Job Search in the U.S. - This site from Georgetown University contains some helpful tips for international students navigating the job search.


I-20 Request Form