Having a job while in college builds discipline and develops skills for your future career. For international students, working in the United States also means following specific immigration regulations.
Gaining authorization for employment is critical for international students and applies to any income, including volunteer compensation and entrepreneurship. If you’re working without the correct documentation, you can compromise your visa status. It’s ver important to follow the rules for work authorization.
You are eligible to work 20 hours per week while classes are in session, with a letter of approval from your Dedicated School Official (DSO). You may also work full-time over breaks and in the summer. The U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement FAQ page answers your questions about working in the U.S. as a student.
After one year at Wingate University in good standing as a student, you can apply for off-campus employment while school is in session. This is also known as pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). This must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the application process can take up to three months. You must get an updated I-20 from the Office of International Programs to apply.
Internships and Practical Training
As you advance in your studies at Wingate University, you will need work authorization for training and internships. Refer to the International Student Handbook (PDF) for eligibility and procedures.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
This is employment, usually an internship, integral to completing your coursework.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Students often apply for OPT during summer break and/or after graduation.
- International Organizations
International students may apply to work with qualified international organizations, such as World Health Organizations and the United Nations.
Severe Economic Hardship (SEH)
You may be eligible to work off-campus if you demonstrate a substantial change in your financial condition that did not exist when you were first issued an I-20. See Chapter 1 of the International Student Handbook (PDF) for the details.
Ready to work?
Talk with your DSO and visit our office to apply.
Help Us Help You Work
Please take a moment to complete the following survey. This survey helps the Office of International Programs determine your needs, so we can help you find the best course of action for your future employment or internship plans. Our office provides approval within the boundaries of U.S. Immigration laws and is the only office on campus that is able to give approval for work authorization.