Employment can be available for F-1 international students, but it is very important that international students speak with an International Student Advisor prior to participating in any employment. Generally, on-campus employment is the only means for an international student to work while studying. Unauthorized off-campus employment is strictly prohibited by USCIS and can result in I-20 termination as a direct consequence of failing to maintain F-1 status.
Please read below for general information on the common types of employment for SCC international students. For further details, visit the International Student Office in Room A-203.
On-campus employment is the most common type of employment our students engage in. It does not require a student to submit a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. On-campus job availability is limited. The International Student Office can provide guidance to finding a job on campus.
What are the basic guidelines for on-campus employment?
3 main guidelines:
- Must work on the school premises:
- Work taking place at school location. Could be for an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students.
- Employment located on-campus that does not directly involve services to students (such as construction work) does not qualify as on-campus employment.
- May work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- Should report their work to campus DSO and receive a certification letter to present to the Social Security Administration in order to be able to receive a Social Security Number (steps for an F-1 to obtain a SSN: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/obtaining-a-social-security-number).
When does a student become eligible for on-campus employment?
An F-1 student may begin working as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. They should inform the DSO before they begin work.
International students must maintain a 2.0 GPA—students falling below 2.0 will be notified to stop working and can regain eligibility after GPA is above 2.0.
For how long may an F-1 student continue to work on campus?
An F-1 student who is enrolled in school, maintains status and follows the guidelines for on-campus employment may continue to work. The F-1 student should keep a DSO informed of any changes in employer and hours, however.
If a student fails to maintain their status (unauthorized below 12 units), they are no longer eligible to work on campus.
Students may only work on-campus until their program end date listed on their Form I-20 or up until their transfer out date if transferring to a new school.
How does an F-1 student get started to work on-campus?
Students will need certification letters from the DSO and the employer and the student must present these letters to officials at the local Social Security Administration office to get a Social Security number.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows an international student in F-1 status authorization to work in the United States for up to 12 months in employment directly related to their major field of study, upon completion of their program. Students must apply for work authorization by completing Form I-765 in order to receive an Employment Authorization Document (aka EAD card). Preparation and timing is very important as the application processing is currently taking longer than 3 months.
What are basic eligibility requirements for OPT employment?
- Students must attend school for at least one academic year.
- Must complete and submit a graduation petition for an Associate Degree (AA/AS) or Certificate of Achievement (CA) during your last semester.
- Students must seek employment in their related major of study.
- Students can submit an application as early as 90 days before the end date of their final semester, and no later than 30 days after the end of their last semester. Currently, USCIS is taking a minimum of 3 months to process OPT applications. Plan accordingly!
- Students cannot travel outside of the U.S. with a pending OPT application; this is an indication that the student has abandoned their application.
- Students may not begin a new program of study while on OPT. If a student begins a new program at another school before their OPT authorization ends, they will forfeit the remaining time.
Make an appointment with a DSO in the International Student Office for the filing instructions and assistance in completing the documentation requirements. Call 714-628-5050 to make an appointment.
SCC does not currently offer CPT opportunities.
Santiago Canyon College's: Career Services Website
"Career Services is a resource offered through Santiago Canyon
College’s Counseling Department. The intent in offering career services
is two fold: The first is to help students through the career
development process by linking college majors and training programs with
careers that meet their individual needs; The second objective is to
offer practical job preparation services to students as they advance
their education. Students may learn job search skills, resume writing
and interviewing techniques."
Student Leadership Institute
Looking to boost your resume before you graduate? Consider participating in the Student Leadership Institute (SLI)! By completing SLI, students receive a leadership certificate. There are different tracks to complete, it is a great addition to your resume and show future employers the skillsets they seek.
For more information: Visit the Student Life & Leadership Website
College Central Network
This website assists both students and employers in connecting recent Santiago Canyon College graduates with opportunities for local employment. International students should use this as a means to search for jobs while waiting for OPT approval. International students cannot begin employment until they receive official confirmation from USCIS and their EAD card.