Skip to main content

Employment Eligibility FAQs

Newly Admitted Students for Fall 2020

What options do F-1 and J-1 Students have for work authorization during their program of study?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

F-1 and J-1 Students who are physically present in the U.S. and hold a Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) with UC San Diego are eligible to seek the following types of employment:  

  • F-1 and J-1 On-Campus Employment: On-Campus employment is work on the school premises, employed by the I-20/DS-2019 issuing institution (such as work for a UC San Diego department or college dining hall), or employed by on-campus commercial firms which provides direct student service. Note: Graduate students who plan to remain outside of the U.S. for the fall and have been offered a TA or GSR appointment to start in the fall should follow up directly with their departments with questions regarding on-campus employment while outside the U.S.
    Note regarding J-1 students: on-campus employment requires authorization by ISPO before beginning work. 
     
  • F-1 Curricular Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing programs of study in the U.S. and want to gain experience in their major fields of study.  CPT is an academic experience; therefore, the employment must be an integral part of the curriculum. It is authorized by ISPO and does not require an application with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). 
     
  • F-1 Optional Practical Training: Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a work authorization available to F-1 international students plan to seek employment in the U.S. in their major fields of study. Authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) but requires an I-20 update/ recommendation from ISPO. There are two types of OPT: 
    • Pre-Completion OPT – work authorization prior to the end of the academic program of study. 
    • Post-Completion OPT – work authorization after the end of the academic program of study (Most students utilize Post-Completion OPT and apply during their last term of study. 
       
  • J-1 Academic TrainingAcademic Training (AT) is a period of authorized off-campus employment directly related to a student’s field of study. J-1 students may participate in AT either before or after graduation. It is authorized by ISPO and does not require an application with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. 

I am currently located in an OFAC Sanctioned Country. How does this impact my eligibility to seek remote employment with UC San Diego?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic sanctions imposed by the United States against foreign countries. The current list of sanctioned countries includes the Balkans, Belarus, Burma, Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe. Currently, there are license requirements for certain types of online study or remote work for students from and located in these nations.  

This OFAC requirement applies to students based on their visa status in the U.S. and where they will be located during the Fall term. Students from sanctioned countries, who do not hold a valid non-immigrant or immigrant visa, and are not physically located in the United States, are not allowed to engage in employment, research or transactional activity, or enroll in any online classes for this Fall without an approved export license from OFAC. 

  • Graduate Students: If you are not able to obtain a visa to enter the United States this Fall, please contact your Graduate Coordinator and Faculty Advisor in your academic department immediately for support and guidance on this process.   
     
  • Undergraduate Students: If you are not able to obtain a visa to enter the United States this Fall, you may need to consider deferring your program to the next available term. Please contact the Admissions Office for support and guidance on this process.   
     

If you are already in the United States in a valid non-immigrant or immigrant status and plan on enrolling in courses this fall, the above restrictions do not apply to you. For more information, please reach out directly to your admitted program within your department.  

How is the One Academic Year Requirement for F-1 Practical Training defined? How do I know if I’ve met this requirement?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

To meet eligibility requirements to begin off-campus employment through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), international students must first meet the One Academic Year Requirement.  

Students are required to enroll full-time for a minimum of one academic year (3 quarters) on the same ACTIVE SEVIS ID Number (Form I-20) to be eligible for practical training. Only students who are already inside the U.S. or physically arrive at UC San Diego and maintain their status are eligible for "activation" of their Form I-20s. This is known as the One Academic Year Requirement. 

You may have already began accruing time towards the One Academic Year Requirement if any of the following applies to you: 

  • SEVIS Transfer – You recently transferred your SEVIS Record to UC San Diego.  
     
    You may use time spent in another SEVIS approved university or college if you were enrolled full time and did a timely SEVIS transfer using the same SEVIS record. If you would like to request CPT during your first year at UC San Diego, we will need proof of your full-time enrollment from your previous institution such as a transcript as well as a copy of your I-20. Note that time spent enrolled in language training does not count towards the One Academic Year Requirement.  
     
  • Change of Status – You were approved for a change of non-immigrant status to F-1. 
     
    You may use time spent in another non-immigrant status (e.g., E-2, H-4, L-2) if you were enrolled full time at a SEVIS approved university or college for one academic year. You can use your Form I-94 and academic history to show full-time enrollment spent in a different non-immigrant status. 
     
  • Change of Academic Level – You are starting a new program here at UC San Diego. A common example is a student who completed their undergraduate program at UC San Diego and will begin a graduate program on the same SEVIS record.  
     
    You may use time spent at a lower degree level towards the one academic year requirement if you were approved for a change of level with the same SEVIS record.   

Note: Students enrolled part-time during their program of study (less than 12 units) are still considered full-time and may count the period of under-enrollment towards eligibility for the One Academic Year Requirement only if they are authorized for a Reduced Course Load.  

When do I start accruing time towards the One Academic Year Requirement for practical training if I am starting my program from OUTSIDE of the U.S. this fall?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

Only students who are already inside the U.S. or physically arrive at UC San Diego and maintain their status are eligible for "activation" of their Form I-20s. If you are unable to enter the U.S. for the fall quarter, ISPO is unable to ‘activate’ your Form I-20Given the current travel restrictions, U.S. Embassy and Consulate closures, and the current state of the pandemic, international students may or may not be able to physically arrive on campus to meet requirements for ISPO to activate their Form I-20s so they can begin accruing the one academic year requirement.  

ISPO will be required to change the program start date on your Form I-20 to a future quarter when you plan to physically arrive to the U.S. In this case, the one academic year may start from the term the student is able to arrive in the U.S.   

When will I be eligible to apply for off-campus work permission during my program also known as F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

In order to be eligible for CPT, you must meet the following CPT eligibility requirements.   

CPT Eligibility through Course Enrollment:  

  • You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year on the same active SEVIS number. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for graduate students that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. *  
  • You must be currently pursuing your degree; CPT cannot be authorized after completing your program.  
  • Your I-20 should have a program end date beyond your requested CPT end date.  
  • You must be enrolled full-time during the term that CPT is requested or have an approved Reduced Course Load.  
  • You must receive an academically appropriate internship offer directly related to your major field of study. 
  • You must enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade. Continuing graduate students have the option to participate in a Summer Cooperative Education Program in the summer term in lieu of summer enrollment.  

CPT Eligibility through Summer Cooperative Education Program* (Available in Summer 2021 for graduate students only)  

  • You must have physically entered the U.S. and have enrolled full-time in Spring 2021 (or earlier) and are continuing enrollment in Fall 2021 
  • You must be currently pursuing your degree; CPT cannot be authorized after completing your program. 
  • Your I-20 should have a program end date beyond Summer 2021. 
  • Must have completed the Summer Cooperative Education Agreement 

*The One Academic Year Exception for Graduate students only:  Graduate students do not need to be present in the U.S. for a full academic year prior to being eligible for CPT. As long as graduate students enroll in a CPT-appropriate course or meet eligibility requirements to enroll in the Summer Cooperative Agreement Program in Summer of 2021, they may pursue CPT prior to meeting the One Academic Year Requirement. For additional information on the on- year requirement, see question, How is the One Academic Year Requirement for F-1 Practical Training defined? How do I know if I’ve met this requirement? 

If I am starting my program from OUTSIDE of the U.S. this fall, am I still eligible to pursue an industry internship through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in Summer 2021, even if I am not enrolled full-time for a full academic year on the same SEVIS record prior to Summer 2021?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

Graduate Students: Yes. Due to the exception to the one academic year requirements for practical training provided for graduate students, graduate students have the opportunity to participate in the Summer Cooperative Education Program (Summer Co-Op) prior to meeting the one academic year requirement for practical trainingThe Summer Co-Op Program is an agreement between the student, the faculty advisor, and the employer outlining specific goals that the student will work towards that would otherwise meet the requirements of a course for credit. 

Graduate students do not need to be present in the U.S. for a full academic year prior to Summer 2021 to be eligible for this program.  As long as you are enrolled full-time in Spring 2021 (or earlier) and are enrolled full-time in Fall 2021, you are eligible for off-campus employment authorization through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and thus may work full-time, off (or on)-campus during the summer term. For more information about the cooperative agreement process, please refer to the ISPO website on Graduate Student CPT. 

Undergraduate Students: No. There are no exceptions to the one academic year requirement for undergraduate students. You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year on the same active SEVIS number and otherwise meet all other eligibility requirements for CPT for undergraduate students.  

I will begin my program remotely and remain outside of the U.S. this fall. Can I accept a fall quarter internship with a U.S. Employer from my home country without holding ACTIVE F-1 or J-1 Status or being present in the U.S.?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

Newly admitted students remaining outside of the U.S., to begin their program of study are not subject to F-1 or J-1 employment regulations. Students should clearly communicate with their U.S. based employer that they do NOT hold active F-1 or J-1 Status in the U.S. Despite not being subject to F-1 or J-1 employment regulations, it is important to note that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable income tax laws, including tax filing and payment mandates of the US, California, and any country where you reside and work. Taxation questions are beyond ISPO’s purview and should be directed to a credible tax professional located in the place you reside or with your employer. 

When will I be eligible for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

OPT Eligibility:  

  • You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year on the same active SEVIS number.*
  • You must be completing a higher degree level (BA/BS, MA/MBA, PhD) within the next 90 days OR you must not have completed your degree more than 60 days in the past (known as the 5 month OPT application window). 
  • You must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of application to USCIS.  
  • You must not have used more than 1 year of full-time CPT during your current degree program (part-time CPT does not count). 

*The One Academic Year Requirement for OPT:  ISPO advises students to have completed at least one academic year on the same active SEVIS I-20 record prior to applying for OPT. As USCIS will make the final decision on the work authorization approval or denial for OPT, students who are physically in the U.S., are otherwise eligible to complete their program of study, but have not accrued one full academic year in SEVIS active status, may receive further information regarding their eligibility to receive OPT recommendation from ISPO to apply for work authorization with USCIS. Per the most recent SEVP COVID19 Guidance on this topic, USCIS has not commented on the OPT process or requirements due to COVID-19. For additional information on the one-year requirement, see question, How is the One Academic Year Requirement for F-1 Practical Training defined? How do I know if I’ve met this requirement?

I am only enrolled in a one-year professional graduate program (3 quarters), if I am unable to arrive until Winter or Spring of 2021, will I be eligible to apply for F-1 OPT?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

ISPO advises students to have completed at least one academic year on the same active SEVIS I-20 record prior to applying for OPT.  

Graduate students in one year programs should discuss their plans with their graduate coordinators to see how they can timely progress towards completion of their program of study with the goal of availing post-completion OPT.  

USCIS will make the final decision on the work authorization approval or denial for OPT. Students who have not accrued one full academic year in SEVIS active status, but are physically in the U.S., and are otherwise eligible to complete their program of study, may contact ISPO regarding their eligibility to receive OPT recommendation from ISPO to apply for work authorization with USCIS.  

Per the most recent SEVP COVID19 Guidance on this topic, USCIS has not commented on the OPT process or requirements due to COVID-19. For additional information on the one-year requirement, see question, How is the One Academic Year Requirement for F-1 Practical Training defined? How do I know if I’ve met this requirement?

When will I be eligible for J-1 Academic Training work authorization?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

J-1 Students are eligible to pursue off-campus work authorization, known as Academic Training, after having completed at least 1 quarter on an active SEVIS record. J-1 students who plan to start their program remotely from outside of the U.S. and will remain in their home country through the fall quarter should note that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable income tax laws, including tax filing and payment mandates of the US, California, and any country where you reside and work. Taxation questions are beyond ISPO’s purview and should be directed to a credible tax professional located in the place you reside or with your UC San Diego hiring department. Depending on your appointment type, your department will provide further instructions regarding employment, fellowship stipends, and setting up tuition and fee payments.

When will I be eligible for F-1 on-campus work authorization?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

F-1 students arriving to campus may begin on-campus employment up to 30 days prior to the program start date on the I-20.  

F-1 students outside of the U.S. may be eligible to work remotely for UC San Diego without being in the U.S. in Active F-1 or J-1 status. However, it is important to note that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable income tax laws, including tax filing and payment mandates of the US, California, and any country where you reside and work. Taxation questions are beyond ISPO’s purview and should be directed to a credible tax professional located in the place you reside or with your UC San Diego hiring department.  

How will I receive payment or funding for my on-campus work if I do not have a U.S. bank account set up?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: August 13, 2020

International students outside the U.S. for the fall term planning to work for UC San Diego remotely will need to work directly with their hiring department to discuss your plans to work remotely from abroad. It is possible to work remotely for UC San Diego without being in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status. However, it is important to note that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable income tax laws, including tax filing and payment mandates of the US, California, and any country where you reside and work. Taxation questions are beyond ISPO’s purview and should be directed to a credible tax professional located in the place you reside or with your UC San Diego hiring department. Depending on your appointment type, your department will provide further instructions regarding employment, fellowship stipends, and setting up tuition and fee payments.