Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining F-1 Student Status at Columbia

Important Information for Students Fully Funded
by Columbia University

Transfer of F-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Message for Canadian Students

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Maintaining F-1 Status

Academic Certification for Travel

F-1 Travel Information

Govt Q & A for F-1 Travel

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

F-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

F-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program

F-1 Reinstatement

F-1 Work Opportunities

F-1 Practical Training (PT) Overview

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Optional PT Before Degree Completion
F-1 Employment Before Graduation PowerPoint Slides

F-1 Optional PT After Degree Completion
Post-Completion OPT PowerPoint Slides (PDF format)

Post-Completion OPT Webinar

NEW STEM 24-month OPT extension

F-1 Internship with an International Organization

F-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

F-1 Reduced Course Load Request

Inviting Relatives/Friends to Visit You

Address Change Form

Applying for a Social Security Number

Work Opportunities for Students in F-1 Status

The following is a list of all opportunities to obtain authorization to work in the United States if you are in F-1 immigration status. Each category may allow for authorization under different circumstances and at different times during your stay in the U. S. For detailed information on a particular category, please click on the subject heading.

On-Campus Work - Full-time students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. On-campus employment means that you are paid by Columbia University or working at a University location with an employer that is providing services to students, such as the Bookstore. On-campus employment requires an I-9 Employment Verification Authorization form to be completed by you at the I-9 Processing Center, 210 Kent Hall, in advance of beginning to work.

Off-Campus Work Based on Financial Need - Students who have been in F-1 status for one academic year and who are experiencing extreme financial difficulties due to unforeseen changes that severely affect their financial resources may apply for work permission. Authorization is given by the DHS with the recommendation of the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) or International Affairs Office (IAO).

Internship with an International Organization -Students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for permission to work for international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, etc. Authorization is granted by the DHS with the recommendation of the ISSO or IAO.

Practical Training- This is defined as employment related to your field of study and is available during and after completion of your studies. The following is a list of the categories of practical training:

  • Curricular practical training (before completion of your studies) is defined as employment pursuant to a required or optional internship which is an integral part of the established curriculum of your school. CPT is ALWAYS before completion of your studies.

  • Optional practical training is defined as employment related to your field of study. It is authorized in variable increments, deducted from the maximum of one year of optional practical training per educational level, and is available in the following variations:

    • optional practical training before completion of your studies with three possible variations:

      1. practical training during the annual vacation. The annual vacation must follow at least two consecutive terms of fulltime enrollment and is usually taken in the summer.

      2. practical training when school is in session, provided that employment does not exceed 20 hours per week

      3. practical training following completion of all course requirements for the degree except the thesis or equivalent

    • optional practical training after completion of your studies.

    • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) 17-month extension of optional practical training after the initial period of authorized post-completion OPT.

Last Reviewed: 17 February 2011 Last modified: 17 February 2011
International Students and Scholars Office
Columbia University