International students in active status are permitted to work in the U.S. during and after graduation. Please review details for these benefits below. 

* CPT and OPT require pre-authorization and completion of a free workshop for each. Please see below. 

  • Social Security Numbers 
    Getting a Social Security Card

    Social security numbers are available to F-1/J-1 students only with a written offer of employment. 

    *Attention: Original visa documents are required for the application process.

    1. Completed application: Form SS-5                Note: On #5 Citizenship, on the SS-5 form, check off “Legal Alien Allowed to Work.”   
    2. Valid Passport
    3. Original SEVIS I-20 document (for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 (for J-1/J-2 visa holders)
    4. Your most recent I-94
    5. Proof of employment eligibility (job offer letter, see below)

    Original Employer’s Letter on hiring department’s letterhead signed by the employing office.

    • Bring originals only of all documents. 
    • Students at UWG can begin their on-campus employment with a filed SS# application.
    • The start date of your employment can not be prior to the date on the SSA receipt.
    • A Social Security Number (SSN) and card will be issued within two weeks of receiving certification from the DHS. It will be mailed to your local address in Carrollton.
    Transportation to the Social Security Administration Office

    SSA is located in Villa Rica, GA, approsimately 15 miles from UWG. ISAP will coordinate up to 2 free campus shuttles during the 1st two weeks of each semester. Afterwards, students are responsible for their own transportation to SSA.

    • One option to get their is via "Carroll Connection". Rides are $3-5 one-way and must be reserved by midday the day before. Call:  844-778-7826 for reservations and information. 
    • SSA Address:  908 S Carroll Rd, Villa Rica, GA 30180. They close at 4pm, M-F and at 12pm on Wednesdays. 
  • Employment Workshops
    Employment Workshops

    All applicants for CPT or OPT must complete an employment workshop before applying for either benefit. The workshop is free, however you must sign up in advance. To sign up:

    1. Email: from your UWG email.
    2. Include your full name, 917#, which workshop and date you are signing up for.

    You will receive a confirmation email and reminder email about the workshop. If you do not attend the workshop, ISAP cannot process your CPT or OPT application. We are developing an online workshop too and will let you know that is available.

    Q: I'm not on campus any of those dates.
    A: We suggest you plan ahead accordingly.

    Q: I have class during those times.
    A: We suggest you make appropriate arrangements with your professor or another student to cover material or tests you may miss by attending one of the required workshops below. Please plan ahead accordingly.

    Q: I decided at the last minute to apply for OPT, and there are no more workshops.
    A: Please contact ISAP to discuss options.


    Employment Workshops in ISAP - Fall 2019
    Mandeville Hall Confernce Room, 1:30-2:30 PM
    Dates CPT OPT H1-B
    Tuesday, Sept. 10 X    
    Thursday, Sept. 12   X  
    Monday, Sept. 16   150 day OPT application window opens  
    Wednesday, Oct. 16 X    
    Friday, Oct. 18   X  
    Nov. 18- 22 TBD     X

    Employment Workshops in ISAP - Fall 2019 Mandeville Hall Confernce Room, 1:30-2:30 PM

    • Dates: Tuesday, Sept. 10
      CPT: X

    • Dates: Thursday, Sept. 12
      OPT: X

    • Dates: Monday, Sept. 16
      OPT: 150 day OPT application window opens

    • Dates: Wednesday, Oct. 16
      CPT: X

    • Dates: Friday, Oct. 18
      OPT: X

    • Dates: Nov. 18- 22 TBD
      H1-B: X


  • On Campus Employment 
    On Campus Employment 

    International students are allowed to work on-campus. If you are sponsored student (F-1 or J-1), please consult with your sponsor regarding the number of hours per week you are allowed to work.


    To be eligible for on-campus employment, students must:

    • maintain immigration status and valid immigration documents.
    • enroll full-time for the semester that you are going to work on-campus. (Except for summer semester, if it is not the student's first or last semester)
    • enroll full-time for the next semester prior to be able to work on-campus in summer or winter break. If summer is your last semester, you must enroll in summer session classes.

    International students are eligible for work done and paid by University of West Georgia and for work done and paid by Dine West and UWG Bookstore This includes:

    • Hourly jobs, Research Assistant (RA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions.
    • Stipend jobs however cannot work more than number of hours per week allowed.
    • Not eligible for Federal Work-Study (FWSP).
    • Employment must not interfere with full-time study (no work during class time).
    • Work only a total of 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours per week combined during the break. (Except summer semsesters)
    • Must be a student.
    • Cannot work beyond your degree completion date (undergraduate: commencement date, graduate: date of final academic activity)

    If you are not sure, please contact an ISAP advisor.

    Summer Semesters 
    • International students can work up to 40 hours during the summer session, regardless of their enrollment during the summer. 
    • If it is the student's first semester or last semester, the student must also be enrolled full time. 
    • Summer semester is considered a "vacation" term, and students do not have to be enrolled to be considered in status. 

    If you are not sure, please contact and ISAP advisor. 

    Hour Restrictions
    • Up to 20 hours- while classes are in session during the Fall/Spring Semester
    • Up to 40 hours- during class breaks (fall break, winter break, thanksgiving break, spring break) and during summer session
    Finding a Job
    • Search UWG Student Employment for hourly positions.
    • Ask your academic unit for assistantship positions.
    • Search jobs with Dine West and UWG Bookstore.
    • Go to UWG Career Services for assistance with resume writing and interview skills.
    Starting Your Job

    New and Transfer Students (first semester at UWG)

    First, be sure you have completed your SEVIS check in with the ISAP office. 

    F-1 Students

    • Apply for a  social security number (if you don't already have one).
    • Complete your New Hire Packet from UWG Human Resources or any required paperwork from your department.
    • Make sure to file your U.S. Tax Return (April 15th) by the deadline each year you work. 

    J-1 Students

    DS-2019 issued by UWG:

    Government sponsored students:

    • Complete and submit J-1 On-campus Employment Authorization Form to the ISAP
    • Resubmit the form again in the future if change or extend the end date of the on-campus employment.
    • Make sure to file your U.S. Tax Return (April 15th) by the deadline each year you work.

    DS-2019 not issued by UWG:

    • Contact your J-1 program sponsor to receive permission to engage in on-campus employment.
    • Submit the on-campus employment authorization letter to the UWG, so that we can keep it on your record.
    • Make sure to file your U.S. Tax Return (April 15th) by the deadline each year you work.
  • Volunteering and Unpaid Internships
    Volunteering and Unpaid Internships

    F-1 students can gain experience off-campus through volunteering or as an unpaid intern only when there is no compensation of any kind and the position doesn’t violate any U.S. or state labor laws.

    Labor Laws

    American labor laws protect workers from working without pay except in certain specific and defined situations. It is important to understand that workers cannot give away their right to receive pay. If the work being done benefits the company and is work that someone would normally be paid for, then that work most likely does not qualify to be considered an unpaid internship or volunteer work.

    WARNING: An international student who works at an unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity which is later found to not properly be unpaid work will have violated status.  

    When considering volunteering or doing an unpaid internship, international students should be very careful to make sure that the internship really meets all six of the criteria established by the U.S. Department of Labor:

    1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
    2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
    3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
    4. 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;
    5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
    6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

    Source: Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I need work authorization to accept an unpaid internship or volunteer position?

    You are not required to obtain OPT or CPT work authorization to engage in a legitimate unpaid internship or volunteer position.

    WARNING: Before doing any work, you should ask what paperwork the organization requires from you to start your unpaid internship. If they want you to complete an I-9 Employment Authorization Verification form, it means they consider it to be an employment relationship requiring authorization even if you are not being paid.

    Can the UWG International Student Admissions & Programs Office give me a letter of permission to do an unpaid internship?

    No. We only authorize paid employment for students. We are not authorized to vet unpaid internships for compliance or to give permission.

    Can the UWG International Student Admissions & Programs give me a Social Security Letter based on my unpaid internship?

    No. We can only sign offer letters for authorized paid employment opportunities.

    How can I later prove that my position was a legitimate unpaid internship or volunteer position?

    You should get documentation from the organization where you are engaging in the unpaid internship or volunteer activity explaining the nature and terms of your work, and keep this with your other immigration records.

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    CPT is a benefit of active F1 status available to F-1 students who require an internship course off-campus in order to graduate from their current degree program.


    • Completion of a CPT workshop. See above. 
    • Full-time enrollment of at least one year in active F-1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
    • CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit
    • You must have received a qualifiying, written job offer before applying for CPT.
    • Your job offer must be in your major or field of study

    When to Apply

    • Deadline:  End of drop/add period each semester. 
    • You can apply once you enroll in the internship course as well as other necessary classes and have all the necessary documents. 
    • Once your application is reviewed, your I-20 will be updated and endorsed for CPT. Then, you may begin working. Employment prior to approval is a violation of status.
    • No CPT application will be accepted after the 1st week of the new semester.
    • CPT may begin after the last day of the previous semester. 

    How to Apply

    • Enroll in the internship course. In the fall and the spring semester, enroll in other necessary classes.
    • Register full-time (9 for graduate students and 12 for undergraduate students). Classes cannot be taken through online or distance education.
    • Submit your CPT application.

    Hour Restrictions

    • Up to 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring Semesters
    • Up to 40 hours per week during all breaks and Summer Semester

    Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long you can work. However, if you work full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, you are not eligible for OPT. If you work part-time on CPT, or full-time on CPT for less than 12 months, you are still eligible for all of your allowable OPT. So make sure you watch the dates and hours closely – don’t jeopardize your OPT!

    CPT I-20 Application

    Submit your CPT application to ISAP. Your application should include:

    • Academic advisor or departmental letter (if applicable), printed on official letterhead (use this template or department form, if applicable). 
    • Employer letter, printed on official letterhead.
    • Photocopy of your passport valid for at least six months into the future.
    • Photocopy of recent I-94 arrival record. Students will either have a paper I-94 card or will have an electronic I-94 record. If you have an electronic I-94 record, you can find it at

    CPT applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You may receive an email or call from the ISAP for additional requirements or immigration advisement.

    • Complete documents will be adjudicated within 3-5 business days. Requesting additional documentation or advising appointments will add more days to the processing time.
    • You will receive an email notification from ISAP to pick up the processed CPT application. CPT applications must be picked up in-person as you will need to sign the CPT agreement form.

    CPT Employment

    1. You should begin employment on the CPT start date on your I-20. Your employer will likely request certain documents from you, including your CPT I-20, passport, I-94 and social security card. Every employer has their own policies, so please follow their instructions. 
    2. Apply for a Social Security Number (if you do not already have one)
    • You will be able to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) after your CPT is approved and you have received your CPT I-20.
    • You will not be able to apply for a SSN more than 30 days prior to the employment start date listed on your I-20.
    • You will need to apply for a SSN through the social security card center. Bring the following information to a social security card center:

     Visit for more information. If you need a ride to the local Social Security office, contact the ISAP office for help. 

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization benefit for F-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study by working off-campus for a total of twelve months. The 12-month OPT can be obtained while school is in session, after completion of a degree program, and during the summer. An additional 24-month OPT extension can be applied for by students who complete a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field.

    The 12 month Optional Practical Training benefit is available to all F-1 students completing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.

    • Completion of an OPT workshop. See above.
    • OPT time requested before the completion of a program of study is referred to as Pre-OPT
    • OPT time requested after the completion of a program of study is referred to as Post-OPT
    • Total time requested between Pre- and Post-OPT cannot exceed the allowed 12-month OPT time benefit

    If 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) have been used then a student will not be eligible for Pre- or Post-OPT.

    The USCIS processing time is approximately 90 days for all OPT applications. We recommend applying for any OPT at least 104 days prior to your EAD card requested start date. That will allow the ISAP office 10 to 14 days to process your application and allow USCIS 90 days to process your application.

    When your OPT is approved and you receive your EAD card, you are responsible for the following information. Please sign and scan this form to ISAP within 5 days of receipt of your EAD card.

    My OPT Responsibilities


  • Severe Economic Hardship
    Severe Economic Hardship

    If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include a loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. 

    Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]

    Eligibility Criteria

    You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

    • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
    • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
    • Employment will not interfere with your studies
    • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control
    Documentation Needed to Apply
    • A completed and signed Severe Economic Hardship Request Form.
    • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc.
    • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
    • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
    • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
    • Copy of your unofficial transcript available from MyUWG
    How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment
    • Schedule an appointment with a ISAP, and bring the documents listed in Documentation Needed to Apply to your appointment.
    • ISAP advisors will review your documents with you and discuss your circumstances and options.
    • The ISAP advisor will send your request to SEVIS electronically, and generate a new SEVIS I-20. The recommendation will be written on page 2 of the new I-20.
    • Sign your name on the I-20 immediately.
    • Send your request to USCIS. Refer to Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Request Application to USCIS below.
    Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Application to USCIS

    Once you have requested a Severe Economic Hardship Employment recommendation and received your new I-20 from ISAP, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

    • A copy of the new I-20 with employment recommendation
    • Copies of your previous I-20(s)
    • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
    • Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
    • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
    • Form I-765 and the base fee
    • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Photos can be obtained at U-M Photo Services . Put photos in an envelope. You should attach the fee and the photo envelope on top of the entire application (on the upper left-hand corner). Please do not staple the fee and the photos.
    • The personal statement along with any other supporting documents, if available.
    Mailing to USCIS

    Send your complete request to USCIS at the following location:

    USCIS Service Center
    P.O. Box 87765
    Lincoln, NE 68501-7765

    NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address. You may want to send your application via express (next day) mail.

    Employment Authorization Card (EAD)

    If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing.

    You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD and the dates are valid. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You may work part time while school is in session and full time during official university holidays.

  • H1-B Cap-Gap Extension
    H1-B Cap-Gap Extension

    The H-1B cap-gap extension allows F-1 students currently on post-completion OPT to continue working if they have a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). An automatic cap-gap extension of an F-1 student's duration of status also applies to the duration of status of the student's dependents in F-2 status.

    "Cap-gap" has become the common term used to refer to the "gap" in nonimmigrant status that occurs in a change of status to H-1B, when a student's current nonimmigrant status expires before the requested H-1B start date. 

    • For example, an F-1 student with an post-completion OPT end date of June 30 will have duration of status for 60 days beyond that, until August 30. The gap between August 30 and October 1 is a "cap-gap." 
    Who qualifies for an H-1B cap-gap extension?

    Students must have a timely-filed H-1B petition while the student's authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect. This includes:

    1. Students working on post-completion OPT with an end date on or later than April 1 and have a timely-filed H-1B petition. Students on post-completion OPT may continue to work until 9/30 until the H1B begins on 10/1.

    2. Students who are currently in their grace period with a timely-filed H-1B petition. These students may stay in the U.S. until the H-1B begins on 10/1, but are not eligible to work during this time.

    The student must not have violated the terms or conditions of his or her F-1 status.

    Is there an application or fee for the cap-gap extension?

    No. The extension is automatically recorded on your SEVIS record.

    How do I get an updated I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?

    You may request a cap-gap extension I-20 from ISAP to present to your employer. You will be required to upload a copy of a receipt notice from USCIS showing that your application for the H1-B was filed in a timely manner and is being adjudicated. Within five business days, an international student advisor will process your request.

    Do I have to have a new I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?

    No. The cap-gap extension is automatic as long as you have timely-filed H-1B petition. However, some employers request evidence of work authorization or you may be applying for benefits (i.e. renewing a drivers license) that may require a reprint.