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Work, part 2: Off-Campus Employment

In our first posting about working, we talked about getting a job on campus. But let’s say that cataloguing books at Fondren Library or lifeguarding at the Rec Center – excellent opportunities though they may be! – don’t quite meet your expectation of experiencing the wider world during your stay in Houston.

As an international student, are you allowed to work off campus? Yes! Well, actually, it depends.

If you were thinking of bartending in Rice Village, tutoring high school students in your native language, doing a few shifts at the Genius Bar in the Galleria’s Apple Store, or waiting tables to pick up a few bucks, please don’t! All off-campus work –for students on F-1 and J-1 visas – must be directly related and integral to your course of study at Rice. Remember, you were granted an F-1 or J-1 visa specifically for the purpose of being a full-time student in the U.S. Therefore, any off-campus work you do must provide practical experience that complements your academic studies and research.

F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work – known as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – after one academic year (two semesters) in full-time, legal status. You may work off campus up to 20 hours per week during the semester and more than 20 hours during school breaks and summer vacation. Any off-campus work requires prior authorization from OISS. Working even one day off campus without proper authorization is a violation of your immigration status, so please come see us first to complete the approval process. CPT authorization is quite straightforward and fast … as long as you follow the procedures on OISS’s CPT Information Handout. Please note the following two required items:

  • A signed job offer letter on official company/organization letterhead indicating what work you’ll be doing, the dates of employment, hours per week, and job location;
  • A completed CPT Request Form indicating academic justification for the job and signed by a Rice faculty member.

Please schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor if you have any questions about CPT or have a job offer and are ready to start working. We’re here to help!

Next time: OPT (authorization to work after completing your Rice degree)

~Written by Matt Stein, International and Sponsored Student Advisor

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