F-1 Student Employment Options

On-Campus Employment Eligibility
As a foreign student, you are permitted to take on-campus employment under the following conditions:

  • You must be in good academic standing.
  • You must not work more than 20 hours per week when your university is in session. (There are no limitations on work duration during vacations periods.)
  • On-campus employment includes work given and paid for by The Cooper Union. Work done for a business on the school premises which is providing services directly to the students, and work done in outside place that has an educational affiliation with your college (the off-campus employment must constitute as an integral part of your program).

On-Campus Employment Regulations

  • You are responsible for tracking how many hours you work. The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) does not monitor this for each student. Your department likely will not be fully aware of international student regulations. If you work more than 20 hours per week (or 40 hours per week during an official school break), then you are at risk of having your immigration record terminated.
  • You are not permitted to work after the end date on your I-20. You should always be aware of your I-20 end date and take steps to extend your document if you will not be graduating and wish to continue work on-campus.
  • Your passport should remain valid while you are employed on-campus. If your passport will expire, then you need to take the steps to renew it well before the expiration.

Off-Campus Employment
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students with an F-1 visa can participate in off-campus employment under Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for a period of one year. At The Cooper Union, CPT is only offered for the Engineering programs and Masters of Science in Architecture (Arch 193) program. The eligibility for off-campus CPT employment includes the following:

  • You must have completed 2 semesters of studies (excluding summer) with an active F-1 status.
  • The work to be done must be an integral part of your program of study.
  • You must have an internship job offer.

While on CPT you are allowed to work part-time (less than 20 hours/per week) while school is in session or full-time (more than 20 hours/per week) while school is on break (i.e. summer and winter breaks).

Note that if you are given the authorization to take a full-time employment for one year under curricular practical training, you will no longer be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you do CPT part time throughout the year then that will not affect your OPT application.

Pre-Completion OPT of studies employment option
*Not used often because it reduces your Post OPT time when you graduate

To be eligible for Pre-Completion OPT of studies employment you must have completed 2 semesters of studies, excluding summers, as F-1 status. Your employment also must be related to your area of studies. There is no limitation on work duration during vacation periods but you are limited to 20 hours of work per week when the school is in session.

Note that the time spent for work during Pre-Completion OPT employment is part of the 12 months post completion OPT given by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to international students with F-1 visas. Thus, the number of months remaining is the number of months you will work during your Post-Completion OPT.

OPT Post-Completion of studies employment
It has the same eligibility and work duration with Pre-Completion OPT of studies employment option.
Note that if you complete your program and take up another higher degree program, you are entitled to additional 12 months of OPT.

Severe Financial Hardship Employment
*Difficult to attain unless you have legal evidence to prove this request.

International students with F-1 visas who are facing serious financial hardship may be allowed to work if the financial needs result from unforeseen circumstances. They should have tried other employment options with no success. They are also required to obtain approval from the ISSO office. Employment under severe financial hardship has no limitation during vacation periods. However, students working under financial hardships are limited to 20 hours of work during the academic year.

Obtaining a Social Security Number
F-1 International Student and SSN

A Social Security card is required for everyone who works in the U.S., even non-immigrants. On the card will be a unique Social Security Number (SSN) that you will keep for life and kept private due to identity theft issues. You will need the number for many purposes in the U.S. including employment and paying taxes. A Social Security card is not a work permit. For more information, visit Social Security Administration (SSA).

For more information about obtaining a social security number, click on the link below.
How to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

For the Social Security Employment Letter Template, click on the link below.
International Students and Scholars Office Employer Letter Template

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.