International students in active status have several opportunities to gain employment experience in the U.S during and after graduation *. Employment will require application for a Social Security Card also.

* CPT (paid internships) and OPT (post-graduation employment) require participation in a free workshop offered by International Student Admissions and Programs (ISAP) and official authorization. 

Employment Categories & Important Information

Getting a Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique number that identifies an individual tax payer in the U.S. and is required for payroll employment in the U.S. A SSN is not a work permit or health insurance. If hired by UWG, you cannot be paid until you obtain a SSN. 

Eligibility

  • F1 students: eligible with a written job offer letter + ISAP endorsement
  • J1 students: eligible with or without a job offer letter. Request a support letter from ISAP.
  • If no employment is available, F1 students may apply for the ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) instead. 

Cost

  • Free  

Processing Time

  • Approximately 2 weeks after application to the Social Security Administration, which is a U.S.A. federal agency.

Requirements to Apply

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two offices near UWG. You will need to make an appointment by phone before you visit in person.

  1. Villa Rica SSA, 908 Carrol Rd. Villa Rica, GA 30180. T:  866-331-2318
  2. Newnan SSA, 246 Bullsboro Dr., Suite B, Newnan, GA 30263. T: 855-863-3561
  • Keep calling until you can reach someone.
  • Leave a voice message if prompted with your full telephone number.
  • Best to call 1st thing in the morning at 9am

What to Bring to Your Social Security Number (SS#/SSN) Appointment

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

  1. Completed application: Form SS-5 (PDF) Note: On #5 Citizenship, on the SS-5 form, check “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. Original Employer’s Job Offer Template (PDF, 23K) - to be printed on hiring department’s letterhead signed by the employer and endorsed by ISAP staff at the bottom of the letter. J1 Students: request SSN support letter only from ISAP. 
  • Bring only the originals 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 Social Security Administration receipt.
  • A Social Security Number (SSN) and card will be issued within two weeks of receiving certification from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It will be mailed to your local address in Carrollton.

Transportation to the Social Security Administration Office

Currently, students are responsible for their own transportation to the SSA office.

  • One option to get there 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. 

Signing Up for Employment Workshops

All applicants for CPT or OPT must complete an employment training workshop before applying for either benefit.

Cost

Free

Sign Up Required

  • Email: global@westga.edu from your UWG email. Include your name, 917#, which workshop, and the date you are signing up for.
  • You will receive a confirmation and reminder.  

Common Questions

  • 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 in order to attend the required workshops. 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.
  • Q: Where do these workshops happen?
    A: Typically, they happen in Mandeville Hall Conference Room.
  • Q: When are they offered Fall 2021? 

August 24, September 14, October 12, - CPT

August 26, September 16, October 14 - OPT

International students who are in active F1 or J1 status are allowed to work on-campus. 

Restrictions and Requirements

Eligibility

International student must be: 

  • in active status.
  • properly enrolled full-time full-time, except summer term. 
  • enrolled summer term in order to work during the summer. 
  • in fhe final term before graduation, on campus work eligibility ends on the last day of class.

Types of Work 

  • Hourly student positions funded by UWG, not by Federal Financial Aid / Work-Study
  • Housing & Residence Life, Dine West, Bookstore, University Recreation (UREC), etc.
  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA), Graduate Assistant (GA), Teaching Assistant (TA)

Requirements

  • Employment must not interfere with full-time study (no work during class time).
  • Max 20 hours / week during the semester and 40 hours / week during breaks & summer
  • Must be enrolled at UWG
  • Social Security # or Application for an SSN Required

Summer Employment 

  • International students can work up to 40 hours during the summer session, regardless of enrollment, unless summer is your 1st term of enrollment. 

Campus Jobs

  • Search UWG Student Employment listings.
  • Ask your academic department about Assistantships.
  • Ask other students, especially Dine West, UREC, Housing, and UWG Bookstore about jobs.
  • Visit UWG Career Services for help with your resume, CV, job search and interview skills.

Before Working: Things to Do! 

F-1 Students

  • Apply for a  social security number (if you don't already have one).
  • Complete your New Hire Packet from UWG HR and required departmental paperwork.
  • 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:
  • Complete and submit J-1 On-campus Employment Authorization Form to the ISAP
  • Requires update to your DS-2019 prior to working
  • 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 for permission to work on-campus.
  • Submit the on-campus employment authorization letter to the UWG for our records.
  • Make sure to file your U.S. Tax Return (April 15th) by the deadline each year you work.

On-Campus Employment Resources

Can I volunteer or work through an unpaid internship?

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: 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. 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.
  • Can ISAP 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 ISAP 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.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

CPT is a benefit to F-1 visa students in active status who require an internship course off-campus as part of their degree program.

Application Cost

Free   

Processing Time

1-2 business days once the request is complete with all supporting documentation

Eligibility

  • Completion of a CPT workshop offered by ISAP.
  • Full-time enrollment for at least one year in active F-1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
  • CPT employment must be associated with a course in which you are enrolled for academic credit (internship, practicum, field study, independent study...)
  • Approval from your academic department in addition to ISAP approval. 
  • Possession of an updated written job offer before each period of CPT.

When to Apply

  • Deadline:  End of drop/add period each semester. 
  • After enrolling first in the internship course as part of overall F1 enrollment requirements. 
  • Employment prior to approval and endorsement on your I-20 for each specific term of CPT 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

  • Refer to this CPT Checklist (PDF, 151K) to prepare your application.
  • Submit your CPT application (PDF, 1.1M).
  • Please Note: ISAP cannot switch a student from part-time CPT to full-time CPT in the middle / near the end of the semester. CPT authorizations are final once approved.

Work Limits

  • Up to 20 hours per week (part-time) during Fall and Spring Semesters
  • Up to 40 hours per week (full-time) during all breaks and Summer Semester
  • Working full-time more than 12 months in a row will make you ineligible for OPT. 

Contents of the CPT Application

  • Academic advisor or departmental letter 
  • Employment offer letter, printed on official letterhead with dates for the current CPT term.
  • Photocopy of your passport valid for at least six months into the future.
  • Photocopy of recent I-94 arrival record. Print from: I-94 Website 
  • Requires application for a SSN# unless you have one already.   

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

OPT is a benefit of the F1 status to provide optional employment experience after completion of each degree level

Important: If you are an All-But-Dissertation Student (ABD) you are NOT eligible for OPT until you have completed your program!

Government Fee:

$410 (subject to increase)

Processing Time

8-10 weeks once application is received by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). See mailing address below. 

  • Applying for OPT requires an updated form I-20 endorsed in the employment section for "Employment Requested". Otherwise, it will be denied. Only a school official can provid the update form. 
  • Students may apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to completion of studies and up to 60 days after completion of studies (grace period). USCIS will deny applications received before or after these strict deadlines. 
  • Students may not begin working until their OPT card (EAD - Employment Authorization Document) is in hand. 
  • ISAP does no recommend departure from the U.S. during a pending OPT application or use of the ISAP mailing address, since all OPT applications are an individual, optional request. 
  • Having trouble picking an OPT Start Date? Please see this Choosing A Start Date for OPT Graphic (PDF, 64K)
    • Remember your OPT Start Date MUST be within the 60 days after completion of studies (grace period)

When OPT is approved and you receive your EAD (employment authorization document) card, provide ISAP a clear copy of the front and back of your EAD Card.

Application

  • Application located on the >> Forms & Links  page under "Employment"
  • NOTE: Your application MUST include a form I-20 specifically endorsed with the OPT Recomendation by a DSO, not simply a prior version of your I-20 without the OPT endorsement. Providing the wrong I-20 version will lead to denial of application and loss of gov't. fee. 

Submit Your OPT Application

Mailing in the OPT application is your responsibility. 

Be mindful: You must mail your OPT application so it is received by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) within 30 days of your OPT recommendation by the DSO (designated school official). The application may be rejected if mailed in too late.

Via Regular U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
  • USCIS
    P.O. Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266
Via Express Delivery Service (FedEx, UPS, DHL)
  • USCIS
    Attn: NFB AOS
    2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

When OPT is Approved

  1. Sign and return the: My OPT Responsibilities Form (PDF, 785K) with a copy of the front and back of your EAD card to ISAP
  2. Request an updated form I-20 from ISAP that indicates "OPT Approved".
  3. Make copies of your new I-20 and EAD card in case of loss or theft, or for future reference.

Create SEVP Account to Access SEVIS via the Student Portal 

  1. Very Important: You are responsible for creating a student portal account in SEVIS so you can update and maintain your own OPT employment, email, phone and U.S. address. ISAP cannot do this for you. If you exceed the 90 days of no OPT employment reported, SEVP can and does assume abandonment of OPT and terminate your F1 status.   
  2. To reset your student SEVIS portal and receive an email prompt from SEVIS: contact a DSO in International Student Admissions and Programs (ISAP).
  3. Refer to the SEVP Portal Student Guide (PDF) and SEVP Portal Help Page for details. 

What is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) OPT Extension?

STEM OPT is an extension of initial OPT in an approved STEM field for an additional 24 months of employment authorization. If approved and there is no gap in employment, the STEM OPT extension begins the day after initial OPT ends. 

CIP Codes

CIP (Classification of Instructional Program) codes are associated with the specific content and design of a degree program. Certain CIP codes are STEM eligible. See: the USG index of degrees and major CIP codes for UWG.  

Cost

$410 government fee, in addition to the fee for the initial 12 month OPT application

Processing Time

8-10 weeks once application is received by USCIS

Eligibility

  • You are currently in an approved initial 12-month OPT position.
  • Your current OPT is associated with an approved STEM major at UWG. (Note: STEM extensions are based on a major degree only, not a minor or previous degree. 
  • Full list of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved STEM majors (PDF)
  • You have a job offer from an E-verify participating employer. 

STEM OPT Application

Timeline

The STEM OPT application must arrive at USCIS prior to the 12 month OPT expiration date indicated on your initial OPT EAD card. You can request the corresponding form I-20 for the STEM extension from ISAP up to 95 days before the end of OPT, but the form must not arrive at USCIS before the 90 day window. ISAP recommends applying for STEM OPT no later than 1 month prior to the expiration of initial OPT. 

Continuation of OPT Employment During Pending STEM Application

When you receive the application receipt from USCIS, you may continue working in your current OPT position up to 180 days after expiration of the initial EAD card. 

How to Apply

Prepare items #1 - 4 below and submit to ISAP for review at the same time. 

  1. Prepare the ISAP OPT STEM Request Form
  2. Prepare the STEM Training Plan, form I-983 (requires information from both the student and the current employer) For assistance, watch the video tutorial at: STEM OPT Hub 
  3. Prepare form I-765, Employment Authorization Application (must use STEM Code (c) (3) (C) in #27, and include the name of your degree in #28.a, your employer's name as listed in E-Verify, as well as your employer's E-Verify number. (Failure to include a valid company E-Verify # will result in delay or denial of your application). 
  4. Prepare Supporting Documents*
*Supporting Documents
  • Personal check or U.S. money order for $410 made payable to Department of Homeland Security. If you prefer to use a credit card, prepare form G-1450 (Authorization for Credit Card Transaction).
  • Two (2) passport photos taken within the last 30 days. Write your I-94# on the back in pencil. See the Travel.State.Gov Website for photo details. 
  • Copy of passport biographical page
  • Copy of Visa Stamp or Change of Status Approval Notice if you changed status in the U.S.
  • Copy of I-94 document
  • Copy of initial OPT EAD Card (front and back)
  • UWG Transcript showing conferral of degree in an approved STEM field. 
  • Copy of UWG diploma naming your degree and major
  • Job continuation support letter from your employer

Post Application Steps

  • ISAP will review all the documents above and issue form I-20 endorsed for STEM OPT, which says "OPT Requested" in the employment section. 
  • Mail your completed application to USCIS (see below) within 60 days of the STEM I-20 issuance date. Keep a complete extra copy for your records. 

USCIS Mailing Address 

eShipGlobal Option:
  • University Express Mail Service 
  • Select “OPT Application” or “Send Documents to USCIS.”
  • Select the USCIS location in Lewisville, TX. (see below)
  • Select your carrier of choice. Pay for shipping. Print the label. 
  • Last, drop off your packet at the nearest location for the carrier you selected.
Via Regular U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
  • USCIS
    P.O. Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266
Via Express Delivery Service (FedEx, UPS, DHL)
  • USCIS
    Attn: NFB AOS
    2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

Maintaining Status During STEM OPT

Please see important details about reporting requirements unique to STEM OPT on the ISAP website, current students tab > Maintaining Status. 

H1-B and STEM OPT

Even if your employer is sponsoring your Change of Status to H1-B, ISAP recommends that you also apply for STEM OPT. 

Why? If your H1-B is denied or delayed for some reason, OPT STEM provides a back-up plan to continue employment and maintain F1 status. If you are later approved fro H1-B, your STEM OPT will automatically convert to H1-B as a Change of Status with no gap in employment. Please contact a DSO in ISAP if you have questions about this.  

STEM OPT Information

What is J1 Employment - Severe Economic Hardship?

Students in J1 status do not require application to USCIS for an EAD card like F1 students. J1 students may complete the ISAP request form only and apply directly in ISAP for immediate approval. Approval is done in SEVIS by an ARO (Alternate Responsible Officer), which is an ISAP staff member who is also an ARO. 

What is F1 Employment - Severe Economic Hardship?

If employment is not available or current employment is insufficient, eligible F-1 students may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control.

Examples of Unforeseen Circumstances:  loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that is not the fault of the student, substantial currency devaluation, sudden increase in tuition or living costs, student's source of financial support is interrupted due to medical bills, civil strife, natural disasters, war, or other dire geo-political circumstances.

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 demonstrate the employment is necessary to maintain status due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control.

Required Documentation

  • A completed Severe Economic Hardship Request Form (PDF, 116K)
  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen economic circumstances with documentation of any claims you make in the statement. i.e. news articles, dated currency exchange rates, medical documentation, etc... 
  • Completed Form I-765 (PDF), 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

  • Visit ISAP during advising hours for document review. 
  • ISAP will prepare an I-20 endorsed for this type of employment. Sign it. 
  • Mail your application packet to USCIS. Keep a full copy for your records. 
Items to Include With Application
  • Copy of new I-20 with hardship employment recommendation
  • Copies of previous I-20(s)
  • Copy of Form I-94
  • Copy of your passport bio page 
  • 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
  • 2 passport style photos, color, plain background, less than 30 days old
  • Personal statement with with documentation of claims made in the statement. 
Mailing to USCIS

Send your complete request to USCIS at the following location:

  • USCIS
    P.O. Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266

Note: Only the U.S. Postal Service can deliver to a P.O. Box address. 

Employment Authorization Card (EAD)

When approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. In case of denial, you will be notified by USCIS via paper mail. 

You may not begin employment without the EAD card and within the dates printed on the card. 

Severe Economic Hardship (SEH)

What is Academic Training (AT)?

J-1 visa students are eligible for up to 18 months of work authorization, known as “Academic Training ”. Post-doctoral students may apply for an additional 18 months of AT.

Important:

  • ISAP authorization required in advance.
  • AT is not intended for J1 students to meet personal or living expenses. It is intended for you to gain work and cultural experience in your field of study. 

J1 Eligibility

  • will engage in employment directly related to his / her major field of study.
  • has completed all coursework required for the degree, OR
    will work only during vacation periods, OR
    will only work part-time (20 hours/week) if still enrolled in course work
  • will maintain health insurance coverage while working
  • will obtain proper authorization for AT from a Responsible Officer (RO) in ISAP.

Timing

  • Apply for AT at least two (2) weeks prior to program end date
  • Duration: Time limits are cumulative, so any AT used prior to completion of study will be deducted from the balance after completion of a degree.
  • Non-Degree seeking students: AT is available for a period of time equal to the time you are enrolled (up to 12 months).
  • Degree-seeking students: AT cannot be authorized longer than your total period of study.  Maximum AT duration: 18 months, unless your period of study was less than 18 months.
  • Ph.D. students: 18 months. If you are offered an established Post-Doctoral position you may be authorized for additional 18-months, for a total of 36 months of post-doctoral training, which is the maximum amount.

DOCUMENTATION - To Apply for AT, submit:

  1. AT application form (PDF, 149K)
  2. Original job offer on employer's letterhead with ALL of the following details:
    • Job title
    • Name of supervisor
    • Location of employment
    • Proposed start and end dates of employment
    • Number of hours per week
    • Salary (If the work is unpaid, then you will also need to submit financial documents showing that you or your sponsor can cover the cost of living expenses for the period of extension for Academic Training)
  3. Name and UWG email of your Academic Advisor.

ISAP cannot approve your AT until your secondary approver responds to ISAP with their approval, so make sure he or she is aware of this process, in advance.

For Exchange Students only:

  • You must apply for AT at least two (2) weeks before the end date of your DS-2019. We cannot approve AT after that date. 
  • You must also submit a letter from your home university confirming that the proposed job experience in the U.S. is related to your field of study, and stating their support for the opportunity. 

Academic Training Evaluation

At the conclusion of your AT experience you must submit an evaluation to ISAP via email that includes all your personal identifying information and the employer's name, address and location. State  whether the experience was helpful or not. If so or if not, how and why? Email this evaluation to ISAP.

What is the H1-B Visa?

H1-B is a type of non-immigrant work visa for a "Worker in a Specialty Occupation". H1-B is a not a student visa, but often an F1 OPT STEM extension can lead to a change of status to H1-B status. Sponsorship begins with the employer, not UWG.  

What is a H-1B Cap-Gap Extension?

This extension allows F-1 students who are currently on post-completion OPT which ends prior to Oct. 1 each year to continue working if they have filed an H-1B change of status petition which is approved.  The result is to brigdge the F-1 work authorization to Oct. 1 to cover "the gap". This change will also apply to the student's dependents in F-2 status.

  • For example, an F-1 student's 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 the "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 H-1B 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 H-1B 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.

H-1B Information