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 Employment Eligibility FAQS

 (LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 09/19/2022)

On-Campus Employment 

I am employed on-campus. Can I work remotely?

F-1 Students: Under current SEVP guidance, UC San Diego F-1 students who are enrolled at UC San Diego are eligible to work remotely with “on-campus employment”. 

J-1 Students: Under current Department of State guidance released on April 22, 2022, UC San Diego J-1students who are enrolled at UC San Diego are eligble to work on a limited hybrid schedule with "on-campus employment". This means that remote or "telework" can only be conducted up to one to two days per week. The rest of the work week must be in-person.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS IN INSTRUCTIONAL OR INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT ROLES: While students in instructional roles (e.g., a TA) may be permitted to serve in this type of role remotely (still within the U.S.), they may not do so internationally. Please discuss your plans with your graduate coordinator if you have an instructional role but plan to work internationally.


F-1 Off-Campus Employment through F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Does time spent studying outside the U.S. during the COVID-19 emergency count towards the one-academic year requirement for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

SEVP has provided the following information regarding the One Academic Year requirement for current students in the latest SEVP FAQs from April 18, 2022. An F student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS and meets the requirements of the school’s procedural change plans submitted to SEVP.  

Learn more about CPT and OPT eligibility requirements.   

Can students apply for CPT from abroad and with proper authorization participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) because of the impact of COVID-19?

ISPO will review and authorize CPT for continuing F-1 students in active F-1 status who otherwise meet the CPT eligibility requirements. You may apply for CPT from inside or outside the U.S. Review CPT information and eligibility at 

Students may engage in CPT during their time abroad, provided they are:   

  • Enrolled in a program of study (remote coursework is acceptable) in which CPT is integral to the program of study;  
  • ISPO has authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and  
  • Either the employer has an office outside the U.S. or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.  

As noted in SEVP’s April 18, 2022, COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders, this enrollment may be online. All other requirements under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i) still apply.  


Employment After Graduation for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

I’m planning to graduate this term. How will my enrollment in the in this present term impact my eligibility to apply for post-completion employment authorization?

If you intend to apply for post completion work authorization (F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) or J-1 Academic Training (AT), be advised that students must apply while they are physically present within the U.S.

I am currently on post-completion OPT. How does the SEVP Guidance impact me?

F-1 students currently on post-completion OPT can maintain an active F-1 record as long as they meet all employment and reporting requirements for OPT. You may be inside or outside the U.S. and engaging in practical training through remote work.

I am currently on OPT/STEM OPT and my employer is requiring employees to work remote.

Changes to workplace requirements due to coronavirus may impact nonimmigrant students engaging in practical training. SEVP and ISPO encourage F-1 OPT / STEM OPT Extension students to consult with their employers to seek alternative ways to maintain employment, such as teleworking, or other arrangements.

  • OPT STUDENTS: If you are teleworking, the SEVP Portal “Employer Address” field should remain the employer’s address. 
  • STEM OPT STUDENTS: If you are continuing work with the same company through telework, you do not need to submit an updated I-983. Review additional information on when and how to update the SEVP Portal and your I-983.

Can I apply for OPT outside the U.S.?

You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time you apply for OPT. ISPO strongly recommends that students not travel outside of the U.S. while OPT is pending with USCIS. If you must travel outside of the U.S. while your OPT Application is pending with USCIS, you must have your I-797 receipt and/or EAD card with you when you return to the U.S.

I was employed on F-1 OPT however I have been furloughed or I have been laid off. Do I need to update the SEVP Portal with updated employment information?


Furlough is generally when an employee remains on payroll but is not paid during the furlough period. Furlough is the assumption that the employee will resume work after a given period.  

Laid off is when an employer terminates the employment and there is no assumption of resuming work.  

If you are furloughed:  

12-month OPT and STEM OPT students – If you have been put on an employment furlough, student should maintain their employment information in the SEVP Portal as is. Students should retain any documentation from their employer explaining furlough, benefits, and planned resumption of work.  

If you are laid off:   

  • 12-month OPT students - If you have been laid off of employment, student should report their employment end date in the SEVP Portal. The employment end date should be the date the layoff goes into effect. Students should retain any documentation from their employer explaining the terms of their layoff. 

I am currently on OPT, but I am working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Per guidance from SEVP that was updated on April 18, 2022, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT. You may continue to report your employment in the SEVP Portal if you are working fewer than 20 hours a week.

Will USCIS processing times for OPT be affected by closings or impacts due to Coronavirus?

You may check USCIS’s posted estimated processing times at: . 

Visit USCIS Newsto stay up-to-date on news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 


J-1 Off-Campus Employment through J-1 Academic Training (AT)

Can I work remotely while on Academic Training?

Due to updated Department of State guidance released on April 22, 2022, J-1 Students engaging in Academic Training may only work remotely/through telework up to one to two days per week. The remainder of the work week must be in person at their site of activity.

If I leave the U.S. for the rest of the quarter, can I still apply for J-1 post-completion Academic Training (AT) from abroad?

Yes. You can find information on applying for Academic Training at You must have a job offer and submit your Academic Training Request through the iPortal to ISPO within 30 days prior to the end date listed on your Form DS-2019.

You MUST return to the U.S. for your Academic Training, however. Due to updated Department of State guidance released on April 22, 2022, J-1 Students engaging in Academic Training may only work remotely/through telework up to one to two days per week. The remainder of the work week must be in person at their site of activity.


Other Employment Related Questions 

I have a job offer and need to apply for my Social Security Number. Am I able to?

  • The Social Security Administration will not accept mailed in Social Security applications for F-1 and J-1 international students and will require in-person verification of documents. 
  • Effective 04/07/2022, the local San Diego Social Security offices are no longer requiring appointments prior to visiting their office. You may walk-in to a local SSA Office in order to apply for an SSN without an appointment. However, you can only receive services from the social security office your zip code is assigned to. This is based on your local/home/residential San Diego address, not your UC San Diego work address. Current wait times are very long, so please make sure you plan accordingly. Use the SSA Office Locator and input your current zip code to locate your nearest SSA Office.

Individuals in F-1 or J-1 visa status are allowed to begin work as soon as their work authorization is valid, even if they do not yet have an SSN.

A valid SSN is not required at the time of hire in order to be put on payroll and to enroll in benefits.   

  • For UC San Diego on-campus hires: If hiring departments are filling out the Payroll Personnel System (PPS) system they should enter 999-99-999 in the SSN field for the time being. Once the student is able to apply for and receive the SSN, the student must update the HR representative/personnel liaison with their SSN in the payroll system. Once the Social Security Administration Office reopens please apply for the card as soon as possible.   
  • For Students applying for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT): Students in F-1 status applying for Optional Practical Training are able to request a SSN on the Form I-765 which they submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  

The Social Security Administration has provided the following guidance in a Dear Colleague letter: 

"An F-1 or M-1 student may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. Employers may wish to reference Social Security's fact sheet, Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers. This fact sheet contains information on how to report wages for an employee who has not yet received an SSN and is available online at There is no provision in the Social Security Act (the Act) that employers must have their employees' SSNs before hiring them. Neither is there any provision in the Act that prohibits an employee from beginning work if he or she has not yet obtained an SSN." 

IRS has provided guidance "Delays in Issuing SSNs to Aliens by the Social Security Administration"   

"There is no federal law administered by any federal agency which prohibits the hiring of a person based solely on the fact that the person does not have a Social Security Number (SSN). Similarly, there is no federal law which prohibits the making of a payment to a person based solely on the fact that the person does not have an SSN." 

 IRS's "Employer's Tax Guide" contains the following instruction regarding paperwork filing requirements for employees who have applied for, but not yet received, a Social Security Number: 

"If you file Form W-2 on paper and your employee applied for an SSN but does not have one when you must file Form W-2, enter "Applied For" on the form. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (000-00-000) in the social security number field. When the employee receives the SSN, file Copy A of Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, with the SSA to show the employee's SSN. Furnish copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2c to the employee. Up to five Forms W-2c for each Form W-3c may now be filed per session over the Internet, with no limit on the number of sessions. For more information, visit the SSA's Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information webpage at Advise your employee to correct the SSN on his or her original Form W-2. Page 9, Publication 15, Circular E: Employer's Tax Guide"  

USCIS's I-9 fact sheet for F-1 students contains the following guidance to students about I-9 validation: 

  • "What if I have not yet received a Social Security number (SSN)?  
  • An SSN is not required for Form I-9. It is required if your employer uses E-Verify, but E-Verify allows you to work while you wait for an SSN."  
  • Review general information on how to request a social security number. 

My post-completion F-1 Optional Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training is ending soon and I’m unable to depart the U.S. How long can I stay in the United States after my OPT or AT expires?

Review our Completing OPT page or Completing AT Information. 

F-1 students: If you are not eligible or do not plan to apply for STEM OPT Extension, you will have a 60-day grace period to do one of the following: 

  1. Prepare to depart the U.S.,  
  1. Transfer your SEVIS I-20 record to another institution, 
  1. Change program level (if eligible), enroll in the Summer Session Visiting Program 
  1. Apply for a Change of Status I-539 to B1-B2 Tourist status with USCIS. Review the USCIS "Special Situation" Information. 

J-1 students: If you have reached your maximum duration of Academic Training, you will have a 30-day grace period to prepare to depart the U.S.  

Note for J-1 students: if you plan to transfer your SEVIS DS-2019 to another institution or change program level (if eligible), you must do this no later than the program end date listed on your DS-2019. You cannot do this in your 30-day grace period. 

Can I receive unemployment benefits?

Unemployment payments come from government sources and may be considered a category not allowed for nonimmigrants to receive. If you are laid off or furloughed and eligible for unemployment, we strongly advise you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney before receiving unemployment benefits. If you do receive unemployment payments, it could affect your ability to receive visas or benefits related to your visa status in the future, including permanent residency.