International Students

OWU Career Connection is deeply committed to supporting international students, and this page has resources and tools to support you! We encourage you to explore and pursue your dreams by accessing the information and tools here.

As an International Student with an F-1 visa status, you have an international advantage. While there are strict guidelines regarding internships in the US and post-graduate work, it is important to emphasize your global perspective through your interests, skills, experiences, and languages. If taking part in an internship in the US, securing a job after graduating in the US and/or abroad, or attending graduate school is your goal, let us help you be proactive in preparing for these competitive options!

Helpful Details

1. Full-Time Enrollment: All F-1 visa holders are required to enroll full-time every fall and spring semester

2. On-campus employment: Students must not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year. Full time employment is permitted during official breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring and Summer Break).

3. Off-campus employment: Please consult the IOCP office before accepting any off-campus employment. Authorization is required before you begin working for both Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

H-1B Visa – Non-immigration temporary work visa issued to workers in “special occupations” (Advanced Degree usually required). Must be paid a wag.

F-1 – Student Visa – Must be enrolled in an academic program. School must approve SEVIS (Student, Exchange Visitors Program Immigration and Customs enforcement)

  • First year students must work on-campus. After the first year, students can work off-campus
  • Work must be related to the student’s major and area of study.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) – Must be completed before graduation as part of a students’ major curriculum (Paid or Unpaid)

OPT (Optional Practical Training) – Temporarily allows international students with an F-1 Visa into the US to work for up to 12 months in a position related to their major.

EAD (Employment Authorization document) – Is needed to work in the US and students can apply once they have their OPT and an offer letter.

Other Notes

  • Please work with IOCP (International and Off Campus Programs) Office and have them review applications prior to submitting
  • We recommend not looking for a job in a student’s home country if the desire is to work in the U.S. This makes it much more difficult.
  • SEVIS is housed with OWU until after graduation. After that, students are responsible for any updates to the system.

OPT (Optional Practical Training) – Temporarily allows international students with an F-1 Visa into the US to work for up to 12 months in a position related to their major.

**Note: February/March is a good time to apply**

  • F-1 students are eligible to apply after their first year
  • OPT can be completed before or after graduation
  • STEM majors can have a 24-month extension
  • If you reach 90 days of unemployment in the U.S., the OPT ends
  • Volunteer and part-time work is qualified (20 or more hours per week)
  • Consider risks before leaving the country if OPT is PENDING

Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (prior to graduation)

Pre-completion OPT is permitted for F-1 students as long as the work is for no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session.

Full-time employment under this category is allowed during vacations and recess periods as long as the student intends to register for the next term. Time spent in pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the 12 months of full-time employment available for post-completion OPT. For example, if the student works 20 hours a week for four months, he/she would have two months deducted from the 12 months of post-completion OPT.

Applications are submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for final decision.

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (after graduation)

F-1 students are entitled to up to one year post-completion OPT for each successive and higher degree. Time spent in pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12-month total practical training period.

You may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before your completion date, and up to 60 days beyond the end date of your I-20. USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after ISS creates the OPT I-20. Applications are submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for final decision.

Please visit the IOCP (International and Off Campus Programs) Office for further resources and next steps.

A common misconception is anything unpaid counts as “volunteering”. According to U.S. labor laws, there is more to distinguish between employees and volunteers than whether an individual receives a regular paycheck. Work that is unpaid may still be considered employment for F-1 or J-1 status holders.

What is an employee? The definition of an employee used in the context of immigration regulations is as follows: “An individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration”;. Please note that the term “remuneration” is very broad and includes a variety of non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, etc.

What is a volunteer? According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is: an “individual who performs hours of service… for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.” To be considered a volunteer, the work performed by the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • No expectation of compensation
  • The volunteer cannot displace a genuine employee,
  • The services provided by the volunteer should not be the same services for which he or she was previously paid and/or expects to be hired and paid for in the future
  • Services are performed for a non-profit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objective.
  • Work at a for-profit entity is considered employment and must be for pay. The only exception is made for training programs where the trainee functions, to some degree, like an employee, but is under close supervision and provides no significant measurable work for the employer. The trainee must not take the place of a paid employee. For example, students who are considered student interns may engage in unpaid internships at for-profit organizations.

U.S. Department of Labor Rules for Volunteering
U.S. Department of Labor is concerned both with the protection of jobs for United States citizens, and with the prevention of exploitation of workers. They have created laws to ensure that employment that should be paid is not done for free.
To determine whether an individual is a true volunteer engaged in “ordinary volunteerism,” the Department of Labor considers a number of factors. No single factor is determinative. The factors include:

  • Is the entity that will benefit/receive services from the volunteer a nonprofit organization?
  • Is the activity less than a full-time occupation?
  • Are the services offered freely and without pressure or coercion?
  • Are the services of the kind typically associated with volunteer work?
  • Have regular employees been displaced to accommodate the volunteer?
  • Does the worker receive (or expect) any benefit from the entity to which it is providing services?

Students who have completed a STEM degree in the U.S., may be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of STEM OPT up to 90 days prior to the expiration of their OPT. For more information about STEM OPT, please review the information on Study in the States

Eligibility Requirements

  • The employment extension is based on/must be related to the STEM degree. Qualifying Denison University majors are: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Data Analytics, Economics, Environmental Studies, Financial Economics, Geosciences, Physics, Mathematics and Psychology.
  • The student must have maintained valid F-1 status.
  • The student must be currently on post-completion OPT.
  • The employment must be full-time. For immigration purposes, full-time is defined as more than 20 hours per week.
  • The student must be offered a job by an employer currently registered with the E-Verify program. Learn more about the E-Verify Program.
  • The student must not be self-employed.
  • The student must not have been granted more than one STEM extension in the past. The STEM extension is only available twice per lifetime, regardless of the number of STEM degrees earned.
  • The STEM application must be received by the USCIS prior to the end of the initial period of post-completion OPT, and within 60 days of ISS creating the STEM OPT I-20.
  • The student and employer must complete form I-983 and agree to adhere to it and comply with reporting requirements.

To apply for 24-Month STEM OPT Extension, please login and click on the Student Request tab and select the STEM OPT Extension Request. If you have already started a request, do not start a new one. Please go to your Request tab and locate your STEM OPT Extension Request under Pending Requests.

Cooperative education and internship programs allow students to obtain practical work experience in their field of study. In order for F-1 students to participate in off-campus work experiences, immigration regulations require students to receive academic credits for the work experience, unless it is a required component of their degree program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refers to this kind of off-campus work experience as Curricular Practical Training. 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Undergraduate students must have completed one academic year (nine months) in F-1 visa status
  • Students must be in legal F-1 visa status, in good academic standing, and making normal, satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree
  • The type of employment must be directly related to a student’s major

The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines for those seeking an unpaid internship.
The following six criteria must be met for an internship to be considered a legitimate unpaid internship (and not employment below minimum wage, in violation of Department of Labor laws):

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship


News & Advice

Career Connection Hours

Day of the week
Hours Drop-Ins
Monday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Tuesday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Wednesday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Thursday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Friday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm  

Contact & Location

(740) 368-3152

Slocum Hall 207
61 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, OH 43015