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Student doing an Engineering expereiment

Gaining work experience can be an important part of your degree program at Boise State University.  You have many opportunities to be employed during your time in F-1 status. However, working without authorization is a serious violation of your student visa.  Working without authorization can risk the future of your international student status in the U.S. It is your responsibility to comply with all regulations that apply to F-1 and J-1 students.

On campus Employment

On-campus work is usually acceptable, whether it is employment in the library, the computer center or the housing office, work required by an assistantship, or any other Boise State department. Typically, work performed on the school’s grounds is considered “on-campus employment”. This means employment in the bookstore or cafeteria is acceptable, even if operated by a private commercial firm.

Eligibility Requirements

You may work on campus provided you:

  • Are maintaining F-1 or J-1 status (J-1 students must get advance written permission from ISS before starting jobs)
  • Have a minimum Boise State GPA of 2.0 or above

Please note you are not eligible for jobs listed as “work-study” employment.

Steps to Complete

  • Look for an on-campus job (non-work study):You can search for employment by using the Career Center website called BroncoJobs. There you will follow a simple step-by-step procedure to learn about available positions and how to apply for them. If you need assistance, you can contact the Career Center at 426-5627 between 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Once you have a job offer, submit a Letter Request Form to the ISS office asking for a Social Security letter (if you don’t already have a Social Security Number).
  • Go to the Social Security office located at 1249 Vinnell Way, Suite #101, and apply for a social security number.  ISS will provide you with a map and detailed instructions.  If you already have a Social Security Number, you may skip this step.
  • Go to the Human Resources Office in the Administration Building to fill out the I-9 form and the Tax Treaty form. Please take the following documents with you:
    • Passport, including the I-94 card
    • I-20
    • Student ID card
    • Social Security card, or the receipt showing you have applied for the card
  • J-1 students must get advance written permission before starting jobs on campus.  Please fill out the J-1 Employment form (available from ISS office) with your supervisor before starting work.
  • Go to work!


  • You may not work more than a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session.  A 20-hour per week graduate assistantship, for example, would exhaust your academic year on-campus and off-campus work eligibility.
  • You may be employed full-time on campus only during holidays and summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next semester.
  • You may not be employed on campus after you have completed a program of study unless you have applied for and been granted written permission to engage in a type of employment that USCIS calls OPT, Optional Practical Training.


Curricular Practical Training – CPT (or Internship)

Curricular Practical Training allows a student to work off-campus for a specified amount of time, in a position related to your field of study.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be in valid F1 status
  • You must have completed at least 2 semesters of full time study in the University
  • Your internship must be directly related to your academic major
  • You must receive university credit for the internship
  • You must have USCIS authorization through ISS before you start work
  • CPT must be part-time (20 hours or less) while school is in session.  During summer and winter breaks, CPT may be full-time.

Steps to Complete

  • Find an internship opportunity through the Career Center or your academic department.
  • Obtain a signed job offer letter from the employer on official letterhead with a detailed internship/job description, including internship site location and hours per week.
  • Complete the Boise State Internship Application Internship Application and receive approval from your department.
  • Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Verification Form.
  • Bring the completed Advisor Verification Form, a copy of the approved Boise State Internship Application Form, and the offer letter from your internship employer to ISS.
  • Wait for a confirmation e-mail from ISS before you begin your employment.

Please keep in mind, we cannot approve your CPT until your internship credit is added to your class schedule.

Extension Policy

Approval of CPT extension may be granted only if your academic advisor confirms the academic necessity for an extension and the extension meets immigration requirements. CPT extensions are granted for one additional semester. Simply wanting to gain continued experience may not meet the extension requirements. CPT cannot be used as a means to continue employment.
If you have already completed the required number of hours to earn the internship credit(s) you registered for and have completed the learning objective, CPT cannot be extended.
To be approved for an extension:

Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Verification Form (CPT Extension)
Obtain a signed updated job offer letter from the employer on official letterhead with a stated internship end date.
Bring these forms to the ISS Office or e-mail at at least 10 business days before your current CPT end date.

Please contact Ruth Prince at or 208-426-3720 with any questions.

Optional Practical Training – OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a 12-month work authorization that allows students with an F-1 visa to gain additional work experience after graduation in their field of study. Students can work anywhere in the U.S. on OPT (not just Boise), as long as the employment is directly related to their field of study.

You can learn more about OPT by attending an OPT Information Workshop. See upcoming dates here.

Register for OPT Workshops

If you wish to attend an information session on OPT, please complete and submit the OPT Workshop Registration  Form.

Application Process

We recommend that you apply as early as possible because it can take 3-4 months for an OPT application to be approved by USCIS.  You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. You can apply as early as 90 days before you complete your program and up to 60 days after you complete your program.

All OPT applications are made through the Center for Global Education

To apply for OPT:

Learn about OPT by attending an OPT Information Workshop. This is the first required step in your OPT application. See upcoming dates here.

The following items are needed to apply for OPT:

  • Form I-765 (please review guidelines on how to complete the I-765 form)
  • Photocopy of your passport and visa
  • Copy of your I-94 (in your passport, or retrieve it from the CBP website)
  • Photocopies of any previous I-20s (particularly those with any CPT-authorizations)
  • I-20 endorsed for OPT (obtained through ISS after attending an OPT workshop)
  • Photocopies of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
  • Two passport photos (see “OPT Photo Specifications” below)
  • Application fee: $410 check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (check for latest fee amounts)
  • Completed G-1145 form (optional but recommended – it signs you up for email/text notification of your application’s arrival at USCIS)

Please bring these items to the OPT Information Workshop if you are planning to apply at the workshop.

OPT Photo Specifications

  • Photos submitted for OPT cannot be taken more than 30 days before you submit your application. Instructions for photos are on page 8 of the form 1-765 instructions
  • Color with full face, frontal view on a white background
  • Unmounted, printed on thin paper, glossy and not retouched
  • Passport style; 2×2 inches, with the distance from the top of your head to just below your chin about 1 3/8 inches
  • Using a soft pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name on the back of each photo

Mailing Instructions

Mail your application to USCIS using a mail service with tracking to the address below. Your application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of your OPT-endorsed I-20 being made by the ISS office.

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries:

P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS, such as FedEx or UPS):

Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Reporting OPT Participation & the SEVP Portal

You must continue to report information to Boise State University during your OPT, so that we can keep your SEVIS record accurate. All changes of employment/unemployment, addresses or names must be reported within 10 days of the change. You do this through the the SEVP Portal, which will be active after March 23, 2018.  SEVP will send you portal account creation information directly to your Boise State University email address after your OPT is approved by US immigration.  Please review the Study in the States website for all the information you need about the SEVP Portal, including how to set up your account, what information to report and when to report it.  If you have decided not to participate in OPT then please also inform us directly.

OPT Frequently Asked Questions

How do I track the status of my OPT application?

USCIS will mail a receipt notice a few weeks after you submit your OPT application.  The notice includes a receipt number.  You can track whether your application has been received, approved, or if USCIS has requested more information by using the receipt number on the USCIS website application tracker.

I’m a graduate student. Can I apply for OPT early?

If you are in the thesis or dissertation portion of your program (no classes remaining) then you may be eligible to apply for OPT before you complete your program. Please discuss your situation with us so that we can advise you regarding the pros and cons of applying for OPT before you finish your degree.

How many times can I participate in OPT?

You are eligible for OPT after each degree level you complete.  For example, you may do one year of OPT after your undergraduate degree.  You can do another year of OPT after your graduate degree.

Where can I get help with applying for jobs?

Boise State University has a great Career Center.  Their staff can help with your job search, resume development, cover letters, interview skills and much more.

Can I travel while my OPT application is pending?

We do not recommend travel while your OPT is pending.  Please contact us if you need to travel so that we can advise you on the documents you may need to re-enter the US.

Can I travel once my OPT is approved?

Yes, you can travel.  To re-enter the US you will need your EAD, valid F-1 visa, I-20 signed for travel within the last 6 months and proof of employment.  If you do not have a job yet then we recommend that you provide evidence of your job search (upcoming interviews, for example).

Can I study while on OPT?

You can study part-time in non-degree status only. If you want to start a new degree program then your OPT authorization will end once your I-20 is made for your new degree program.


OPT STEM Extension

Students who graduate with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree are eligible to remain in the U.S.A. for an additional 24 months after completing the 12-month regular optional practical training (OPT) period. You for the STEM extension this during your regular period of post-completion OPT.


  • Valid F-1 status
  • Currently on post-completion OPT
  • Within 90 days of your OPT expiration date
  • Graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher on the STEM-Designated Degree Program List (your CIP/major code is on your I-20)
  • No previous STEM Extension (at the same education level). You are allowed a maximum of two lifetime STEM Extensions
  • Employer is enrolled in E-Verify
  • Employed in a paid position related to your STEM degree that is at least 20 hours/week
  • Be able to complete the I-983 training plan with your employer

*You may be eligible for the STEM extension even if your most recent degree is not STEM-related. To qualify you must have received your prior STEM degree from a SEVP-certified school within 10 years of applying for the STEM extension. The STEM degree must be on the STEM-Designated Degree Program list at the time you apply for the STEM extension. For additional information please see the Determining STEM OPT Extension Eligibility on the USCIS website.

Maintaining Status on STEM Extension

  • Submit the OPT Participation Report form 6 months during STEM OPT
  • Submit the OPT Participation Report Form within 10 days of any name, address, or employer change, including if your employment has ended
  • Submit the Annual Self Evaluation after 12 months and 24 months of STEM OPT via the OPT Participation Report form
  • You can change employers, but you must submit an updated I-983 training plan within 10 days and all new employers must also be registered with E-Verify before beginning work
  • You can have a maximum of 150 days of unemployment/no OPT activity during the entire period of OPT (90 days on post-completion OPT and 60 days on STEM Extension)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has indicated that OPT students who do not report their OPT participation may lose their F-1 status. Please complete the OPT Participation report when required so that we can update your SEVIS record appropriately.

Please see the STEM Hub for additional information, including your options if your employer is not complying with the I-983 training plan.

How to Apply

  •  Submit the STEM Extension I-20 Request Form. Please allow 5 business days for ISS to issue you an updated I-20
  •  Complete the most recent version of the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
  •  Review your application materials before mailing:
    • Application fee: $410 check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (check for latest fee amounts before mailing)
    • Two passport photos (see photo specifications)
    • Completed Form 1-765
    • Photocopy of your new I-20 (endorsed by a Boise State DSO within the last 30 days)
    • Photocopy of your Form I-94 (in your passport, or retrieve it from the CBP website)
    • Copy of your current OPT/EAD card
    • Proof of STEM degree (copy of degree certificate or transcript)
    • Photocopy of your F-1 student visa
    • Photocopy of your passport identification page
    • Completed G-1145 form (optional but recommended – it signs you up for email/text notification of your application’s arrival at USCIS)
  •  Mail your application to the appropriate USCIS lockbox. This depends on where you are living. See here for the correct mailing address. We recommend that you make a copy of your application file before mailing.


  • Photos submitted for STEM OPT cannot be taken more than 30 days before you submit your application. Instructions for photos are on page 20 of the form 1-765 instructions
  • Color with full face, frontal view on a white background
  • Unmounted, printed on thin paper, glossy and not retouched
  • Passport style; 2×2 inches, with the distance from the top of your head to just below your chin about 1 3/8 inches
  • Using a soft pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name on the back of each photo

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any types of work that don’t qualify for the STEM Extension?

Part-time employment

Unpaid/Volunteer employment

Self-employment (or where you are the sole-proprietor of the business)

Employment through temp agencies

Start-up businesses (if they don’t adhere to the I-983 training plan regulations)

You must be employed by the company that develops and supervises the I-983 training plan, and that must be the employer to which you are providing services.  Employment through consulting firms may not always meet the eligibility requirements for a STEM OPT extension.

Can I travel outside the US while my STEM OPT Application is pending?

No.  You will not be able to re-enter the US without your new EAD

Is my work authorization extended while my application is pending?

Yes, your work authorization is automatically extended for 180 days or until you receive the STEM OPT final decision (whichever is first)


Economic Hardship

A student who has been enrolled for an academic year and is maintaining F-1 status may seek an official permission “off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship.” Students are required to show that their severe financial hardship has been caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control, and must also provide documentation showing that employment opportunities on campus are insufficient to ease the hardship. Keep in mind that you must show specifically how the financial data submitted to the school for creation of the I-20 has changed. Support documentation is necessary. If you think you might qualify for Severe Economic Hardship Employment, please make an appointment with the International Student Advisor for assistance.

Common Reasons for Seeking Severe Economic Hardship Employment

  • Unexpected loss of a scholarship
  • Decrease in funding from home country due to serious currency devaluation or family
    illness or death
  • Tuition and fee increases
  • Medical bills, loss through robbery/burglary (documented with police report) or natural
    disaster loss of sponsor support