F-1 (student) visas and B-1 (visitor) visas are nonimmigrant visas where the primary purpose for entry to the U.S. is other than employment in the U.S.
F-1 visas are utilized for academic study in the U.S. A foreign national may work in the U.S. while in F-1 status in primarily two ways: through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or through Optional Practical Training (OPT).
1) Curricular Practical Training:
CPT is an internship-type program offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with a school. To work under CPT, the foreign national must be currently enrolled in school and must obtain the endorsement of his or her I-20 form by the Designated Student Officer at the school. Students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion optional practical training, described below.
2) Optional Practical Training:
F-1 students may apply for authorization to work temporarily (1) part-time during school, (2) during annual vacation periods, or (3) after completion of all course requirements for the degree. The total maximum period of authorization for OPT of any type is twelve months. You must obtain the endorsement of the Designated Student Officer on the Form I-20, and send it with a completed work authorization application (Form I-765) and filing fee to USCIS. Processing time for the EAD will be 30 to 90 days.
3) What if I am in F-1 status working with an EAD and I need to travel? Depending on circumstances, it may not be advisable to travel. However, if you must travel, you should be mindful of the following:
- Nonimmigrant Intent:Even if you have an unexpired visa, each time you reenter the United States, you are subject to the general requirements of your F-1 nonimmigrant visa including your continuing nonimmigrant (temporary) intent. The USCIS Officer may question you regarding your future plans in order to determine that your stay in the United States is indeed temporary and that your intention is to depart the United States following expiration of your student status. If the USCIS officer believes that your intent is NOT temporary, you will be refused admission to the U.S.
- If your F-1 student visa stamp has expired:If your student visa has expired, contact Kuck Casablanca LLC prior to making travel plans. It may be difficult to obtain a new F-1 visa stamp during your practical training period.
- If change of status to H-1B has been filed:It is not advisable to travel while a request for change of status is pending, unless you plan to stay abroad until after the petition is approved.
In order to be readmitted as an F-1 student following a visit abroad, you must be in possession of the following documents:
- A properly endorsed Form I-20; (your Designated School Official must certify your continued pursuit of a full course of study/work period authorized on the reverse side of this form)
- Valid F-1 Student Visa
- Valid EAD
- Unexpired Passport valid for at least six months
Expiration of F-1 Status: You should contact HR and Littler not later than 180 days before expiration of your current F-1 status and EAD to ensure that sufficient time remains to process a request for change of status to H-1B.
General Information on Income Tax for F-1 Students
Lawfully employed nonresident F-1 visa holders are not subject to withholding of Social Security (F.I.C.A/Medicare) tax. Therefore, wage received by international employees in F-1 status in the following circumstances are not subject to this withholding:
- On-campus employment at the school USCIS authorized them to attend; and/or
- Off-campus work with USCIS permission (e.g. economic hardship); and/or
- Approved practical (F-1) training.
This e-mail does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
Copyright © 2015 Kuck Immigration Partners LLC. All rights reserved