F-1 & F-3 Employment Options

Social Security Card

Before you legally can work in the United States, you must have a social security number, printed on a social security card. To get a social security card, you must have a job offer letter. Once you have a job offer, you must bring the letter to the office and ask for a social security letter. The OIP will create a letter verifying that you are enrolled fulltime and are maintaining your immigration status. The International Student Advisor will then sign off on the offer letter. You must take both letters to the Social Security Administration office to request the card.

Please note: If you are a new student, it can take up to 10 days from after you entered the U.S. for your SEVIS record to show you entered the country. It can also take 24 hours from from the time you reported to the Office of International Programs for SEVIS to show that your record has been activated. The SSA will be unable to process your request until both of these updates to your SEVIS record have been completed

For more information regarding social security numbers please visit Social Security Administration webpage


While Studying

You are permitted to work on-campus and sometimes off-campus, with the appropriate authorizations. Many jobs offered on campus are posted on JobMine, hosted by the University Career Center.

On Campus Employment

F-1 Students

F-1 students may work on campus for up to 19 hours a week (up to 20 hours are permitted for graduate students with assistantships) as long as you maintain your academic status . You will need authorization from a Designated School Official (DSO) at the Office of International Programs (OIP) before you begin to work. Federal regulations allow F-1 students to work on campus full-time in the summer and during university holidays, but very few UTEP departments employ students full-time. For more information please visit UTEP Human Resources Department website.

Before working on campus, you must bring your I-20 to the OIP and request an on-campus employment stamp. During the first two weeks of the fall & spring semesters, if you bring your I-20 in the morning before 10:00 A.M., it will be ready for you to pick-up by 4:00 P.M. the same day. If you bring it later than 10:00 A.M., it will be ready by 4:00 P.M. the following day. Throughout the rest of the semester and calendar year, if you bring your I-20 before 12:00 P.M. (noon), it will be ready to pickup by 4:00 P.M. the same day; if after 12:00 P.M., by 4:00 P.M. the following day.

Part-time border commuter students with the F-1 visa are not eligible for on-campus employment, unless approved for Curricular Practical Training.

F-3 Students

F-3 students, whether part-time or full-time, are not eligible for on-campus employment unless approved for Curricular Practical Training.


Off Campus Employment

Curricular Practical Training
Both F-1 & F-3 Students

You can request authorization to work off campus for training related to your field of study by applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in our office and requesting participation in Co-Op with the Experiential Learning Program, offered by the University Career Center. With CPT authorization, you can work either part-time or full-time with a CPT authorization from OIP as long as you are making satisfactory progress toward your degree and have approval from your academic advisor, and, if you are a graduate student, the Graduate School.  See the CPT webpage for more details.


Economic Hardship

F-1 Student Only-Border Commuter Students are ineligible

F visa holders may be allowed to work off-campus if, after one academic year of study, they have a proven severe unforeseen economic need. This work authorization must be obtained from the Department of Homeland Security by submitting documented proof of the change in financial circumstances, as well as filing an application. There is a fee associated with this one year permission and the filing process is extensive. For these reasons, the economic hardship work authorization is rarely requested. For more information, please visit the page on Economic Hardship.


After Studying

Optional Practical Training

F-1 and F-3 students who have maintained their status are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is a benefit that allows students to work full-time in a field directly related to their major after they graduate.

TN Visa

The TN visa (“Trade National” visa, or NAFTA visa) is a work visa for Mexican and Canadian citizens. For more information please visit the Bureau of consular Affairs website.

H-1b Visa

The H-1b is a popular work visa in the United States. Many F-1 students who hope to work in the U.S. will complete their degrees, begin OPT, and apply for the H-1b visa. For more information on the H-1b, please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs website and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

For a list of employers open to sponsoring foreign citizens via the H-1b, click here.

Other Visa Information

For additional information on all non-immigrant visas offered by the United States government, please refer to the Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage .

You can also see information about which US employers filed for H-1B and permanent residency for workers,and what the employees’ salaries and titles were, on the Department of Labor webpage.

Location, Hours, and Contact Information