Since you are in the U.S. with the principal purpose of pursuing a full course of study or academic program, your employment options are very limited. Before engaging in any type of employment–paid or non-paid; on-campus or off-campus–you must first be clearly informed on what are the options and eligibility requirements.

Engaging in unauthorized/illegal employment is a deportable offense under U.S. immigration law.

Important About Employment, Internships or Volunteer Activities-Paid or Unpaid

  • Obtain proper authorization before engaging in any off-campus employment whether the employment is paid or non-paid. (Working without proper authorization constitutes illegal employment, an offense that can lead to deportation.)
  • Refrain from any on-campus employment if/while you are out-of-status.
  • ALWAYS check with the ISSS BEFORE you engage in anything resembling employment, internships, co-op experience, whether paid or unpaid. Avoid putting your immigration status at risk!
  • If you register for a course that consists of an internship, any kind of employment on or off campus, co-op experience, paid or unpaid, or that it has the word “internship” in the name of the course, you MUST visit the ISSS Office IMMEDIATELY to obtain approval. Failure to do so may lead to very serious violations of immigration policies.
  • If you are planning to engage in ANY volunteer activity, you MUST check with an ISSS Advisor BEFORE getting started.

Remember, when in doubt….check with ISSS!

The following is a basic overview of employment options for F-1. 

Eligibility Requirements

A fundamental eligibility requirement for all types of practical training or employment is that you must continuously maintain lawful F-1 status. Maintaining lawful F-1 status includes the following:

  • You must have a valid passport at all times.
  • You must hold a valid FIU I-20 properly processed either through ISSS or by travel and reentry.
  • You must be registered full-time each academic (Fall/Spring) semester. (At least 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students. Students are not required to register during the Summer unless they are initially admitted/changed levels effective Summer term OR are graduating by end of Summer term.)
  • You must also be in good academic standing and making normal progress towards completion of current degree.
  • For any Practical Training employment, you must have been in valid status and enrolled full-time for at least two consecutive semesters prior to application.
  • For employment due to Severe Economic Hardship, you must have been in status at FIU for at least one full academic year prior to eligibility and application.

More information is provided in the F-1 Employment Online Workshop, which all F-1 students are REQUIRED to view in its entirety if they wish to apply for an employment benefit.