There are strict F-1 regulations pertaining to all types of employment including on- and off-campus jobs, and paid and unpaid internships. F-1 visa students must receive approval from an International Student Advisor/DSO prior to engaging in any type of employment.
F-1 visa students may be eligible for the following categories of employment:
- Community Service and Volunteer Work (unpaid)
- On Campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training (Internship, Work Experience)
- Optional Practical Training (Internship, Work Experience)
Volunteer in the Santa Barbara community
International students are permitted to engage in community service for non-profit entities. Any volunteer work with a for-profit entity must be authorized by the Advisor.
Work up to 19.5 hours per week on campus
International students who are interested in seeking on-campus employment should meet with their SBCC Advisor to discuss their eligibility. While we can provide a list of basic criteria required for on-campus employment, there may be other factors that can affect your eligibility.
- a cumulative 2.0 GPA or higher (first-semester students use prior school GPA)
- current passport and I-20
- full-time enrollment
- zero balance on your account in Pipeline
- maintaining all F-1 visa requirements
Log in to the "Job Connection" in Pipeline. Select Advanced Search to filter for "On Campus Jobs - General Employment". If there is a specific department you want to work for, inquire in person at the department.
After receiving a job offer
Go the Human Resources Office in the Student Services building (2nd floor) to pick up an employment packet. The Human Resources Office will verify your eligibility to work on campus with your International Student Advisor. If you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, the Human Resources Office and your Advisor will provide you with instructions.
Do not work until you receive confirmation from the Human Resources Office that you may start working.
Earn credit working in your field of study
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) provides F-1 visa students who meet the eligibility requirements to pursue internship and work/study opportunities related to their major. Note: English Language Training Program students and Liberal Studies majors are not eligible for curricular practical training.
F-1 students may participate in part-time (20 hours per week maximum) Curricular Practical Training if they meet the following conditions:
- Complete two consecutive academic semesters with a minimum GPA of 2.5
- Complete at least one class successfully completed in their major
- Verify the practical training opportunity matches your major in Pipeline and your Student Education Plan (SEP)
- You must be pursuing an associate degree
- The practical training opportunity must recommended by the Department Chair, and be considered to be integral to the student’s academic program
- The opportunity must be eligible to earn academic credit
You may not begin your internship or work experience until your Curricular Practical Training request has been officially approved by your International Student Advisor, and you have obtained an updated I-20 reflecting CPT authorization, and the start date of your work experience and CPT authorization have been reached.
- Review your current Student Education Plan (SEP) with your academic counselor, and ask them to sign the Course Verification” form.
- Meet with your potential internship supervisor or employer to complete the attached “Verification of Practical Training/Employment Offer” form.
- Meet with the Department Chair for your major to request a recommendation for CPT on the attached “Department Chair Recommendation” form.
- When you have the above items completed, schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor.
Work in your field after graduation
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment benefit available to F-1 students who complete an associate degree at SBCC. OPT is a work permit valid for up to one year and can be used anywhere in the U.S. Students should apply for OPT during their last semester.
Recommended application deadlines:
Recommended Application Submission
|Spring semester||February 15|
|Fall semester||September 15|
|Summer Session 1||April 1 (must be registered for Summer I class)|
|Summer Session II||May 15 (must be registered for Summer II class)|
You may apply as early as 90 days before graduation and up to 60 days after graduation.
- Complete at least one academic year and be in good academic standing (min. 2.0 GPA).
- Enroll in the final semester of classes to complete an associate degree. If you plan to transfer to a U.S. university, complete all transfer requirements before you graduate from SBCC!
- A job offer is not required to apply.
- Apply for OPT before traveling to another country after graduation. Students who do not apply for OPT before travel are not eligible for OPT and cannot return to the U.S. using their SBCC I-20.
- Employment must be directly related to your field of major. OPT employment regulations are strictly enforced.
- The USCIS processing center takes 3 to 5 months to process OPT employment applications. Apply early if you hope to start working soon after you graduate!
- Travel to another country is not recommended while OPT is pending and/or if you do not have full-time employment. Travelers with a pending OPT application or who do not have proof of valid employment may be denied admission to the U.S.
- You cannot begin working until you have successfully completed your degree requirements and received your Employment Authorization Document. Your SBCC Advisor will need a copy of your EAD card once you receive it.
- Your OPT must begin within 60 days after you graduate. The expiration date on your Employment Authorization Document will be 12 months after the start date or less and will never exceed 14 months after you graduate.
NOTE: USCIS is updating both the I-765 FORM and the I-765 FEE. Please pay attention when you are mailing your application to be sure you pay exactly the correct fee and use exactly the correct edition of the I-765 form:
• If your application is postmarked BEFORE October 2, 2020 you must pay the $410 fee and use the 8/25/2020 Form edition.
• ON or AFTER October 2, 2020, please check the USCIS I-765 web site and USCIS Fee calculator ON THE DATE OF MAILING to be certain you are using the correct form edition and submitting the correct fee.
• Print the USCIS Fee Calculation ON THE DATE OF MAILING and include it with your application. Make certain the printout includes the date.
What is a postmark?
That's the date that U.S. Postal Service officially sends the package, and stamps the package as mailed. For commercial couriers (UPS, FedEx, or DHL, etc.), USCIS considers the date on the courier receipt as the postmark date for purposes of filing.
IF YOU PAY THE WRONG FEE OR USE THE WRONG FORM, YOUR APPLICATION WILL BE DENIED! THERE ARE ONGOING LAWSUITS WHICH ARE CURRENTLY IMPACTING THE FEE & FORM.
Gather the following documents to prepare your OPT Application.
- Degree Application Form: Complete the Petition for a Degree with your Academic Counselor
- OPT Application Form: Complete Form I-765 and Form G-1145 by typing your information into the forms at the link. Then print the forms. Read through the I-765 instructions (we have highlighted the sections relevant to F-1 students). Here are a few tips:
- Type or print legibly in black ink.
- Answer all questions. If a question does not apply to you (for example, if you have never been married and the question asks, “Provide the name of your current spouse”), type or print “N/A” or “not applicable.” If your answer to a question which requires a numeric response is zero or none (for example, “How many children do you have”) type or print “None.”
- Question #21a: Make sure your address will be valid for at least the next 120 days. This is the address where your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) will be delivered.
- Question #21a: type the number located on your I-94 form
- Question #27: type (C) (3) (B)
- Use Part 6. Additional Information to provide all previously used SEVIS numbers and evidence of any previously authorized CPT or OPT and the academic level at which it was authorized. Write your name in fields 1a – 1c. Leave field 2 blank. Complete sections 3a – 3c, and then list additional information in section 3d. Repeat as necessary.
- Print the form. Do not sign your name until you meet with your Advisor. Your signature should be in black ink and it must fit within the lines on the form!
- OPT Federal Regulations Agreement form. Read carefully and sign.
- Copies of your Passport & F-1 Visa
- Copies of your I-20 forms - Compile all of the original I-20s you have been issued, even from previous schools.
- Form I-94 - Access your I-94 record at www.cbp.gov/I94/
- Two passport-sized photographs taken no earlier than 30 days before submission of application. Lightly print your name on the back of each photo with a pencil. Be careful not to dent or damage the photo. You can have photos taken at Costco, CVS, FedEx, or the Post Office, or use an online service like https://www.ivisa.com/photos
- Application Fee: obtain a money order or cashier's check payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These can be purchased from the Post Office, grocery and convenience stores, or your bank.
Once you have completed your OPT paperwork, email your Advisor to schedule an appointment to and review your OPT application and obtain your OPT I-20.
- You can use an online printing service like FedEx Print Online to have all of your documents printed and ready to send. Just upload copies of all the documents on the checklist, and place your order. NOTE: You must sign Form I-765 after printing (see instructions above).
- Your application must be received at USCIS no later than 30 days after your SBCC Advisor issues your OPT I-20 (during your OPT appointment).
- Send your application to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox address listed here. Include photocopies of your I-20s and passport/visa. DO NOT send your original passport/visa and I-20s. They will not be returned to you and may be destroyed.
- You will receive Form I-797 Notice of Receipt at the mailing address you listed on your OPT application; submit a copy to your Advisor. If you do not receive the Notice of Receipt within 3 weeks, contact your Advisor for help. When you receive it, check it for accuracy. Contact your Advisor right away if there are any mistakes. This is the ONLY time we can request corrections.
- Sign up to Track your EAD Card.
- If you change your mailing address after submitting your application, submit the Online Change of Address Form for a currently filed petition.
- Review the OPT Next Steps page on our website for tips and resources to support your OPT job search.