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There are limited opportunities for F-1 students to work while studying. Please review the information below and request employment authorization as needed.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students are eligible to work on campus while taking classes. This work does not need to be related to your field of study, and the authorization to work is automatic (meaning no special work permit is needed).

On-campus employment is work that takes place at Meredith and is paid for by Meredith. It also includes employment with on-location commercial firms that provide services for Meredith students, such as Aramark who runs Meredith’s dining facilities.

F-1 students are eligible to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the Spring and Fall semesters. Students may work multiple jobs, but the cumulative hours per week between all jobs must not exceed 20 hours. You are eligible to work more than 20 hours per week on campus during vacation periods (winter break, spring break and summer break), provided that you will resume full-time study after the break. On-campus employment authorization ends if you withdraw from school or when you graduate. 

*Note that generally, only 10 hours per week of on-campus employment is available for any student at Meredith. Working additional hours (but still less than 20) is possible, but requires  permission from the Office of Financial Assistance.

Most on-campus job opportunities are posted in the ‘on-campus employment’ section of the Office of Financial Assistance’s page in the MyMeredith Portal. Graduate students may also refer to their Department for information about Graduate Assistantship availability. Finally, students are also encouraged to reach out directly to faculty members or offices you are interested in working with. 

Generally, applying for jobs at Meredith involves emailing a letter of interest and resume to the supervisor of a particular job. If you interview for and receive a job offer, the next steps include:

  • Supervisor initiates, then student signs Employment Contract
  • Student emails the completed Employment Contract to HR (hr@meredith.edu) and cc’s supervisor
  • Student requests SSN Employment Verification Letter to be signed by Supervisor and OIP
  • Student applies for SSN and gets application receipt from the Social Security Office
  • HR will invite student to come in to complete complete tax paperwork and bring in documents to complete the I-9 (including SSN application receipt) and bank information to set up direct deposit payment
  • HR send approval of the Employment Contract to Supervisor, Financial Assistance and student, signaling permission to begin the job 
  • Begin working!
  • Once SSN card arrives in the mail (may take up to a month), student takes card to HR to have the SSN added to their paperwork

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

For off-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an F-1 student work authorization for experiential learning opportunities that are integral to the curriculum and directly related to a student’s major area of study.

Below are a number of considerations to keep in mind about CPT:

  • CPT is only authorized on a semester basis and before graduation. Each semester of CPT requires a new application and new CPT authorization.
  • The dates CPT may be authorized for follow the academic calendar. CPT for a particular semester may include days between semesters, but must start after the previous semester is officially concluded and end before the next semester begins.
  • CPT can be authorized part-time or full-time. Part-time CPT has no impact on future OPT eligibility; 365 days or more cumulative of full-time CPT removes the eligibility to pursue OPT after graduation. 
    • Work for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time for CPT purposes. Full-time CPT is restricted to the summer, unless a full-time internship with full-time associated credit is required, in which case it can be authorized during the semester.
    • Work for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time for CPT purposes. When authorized for part-time CPT, students must still maintain full-time enrollment during the academic year and not exceed 20 hours per week of on-campus employment.

To be eligible for CPT at Meredith, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently be in F-1 status and have already been enrolled full-time for one academic year (two semesters). 
    • For F-1 transfer and change of level students meeting the above criteria, at least one semester at Meredith in the new program must be completed before being eligible for CPT
    • For graduate students whose program requires immediate internship experience for all students in the program, CPT may be authorized in the first semester
  • Be enrolled in either an internship course through the major or in Meredith’s Cooperative Education program and associated COE course (for more information about co-op, please email career@meredith.edu
  • Have received an employment/internship offer that qualifies for the above listed course requirements
  • Have received the approval from academic advisor that the CPT experience aligns with curricular requirements and does not interfere with progress towards graduation or any department restrictions.

To apply for CPT, follow these steps:

  • Receive a job offer for an eligible opportunity. Collect an Offer Letter from your employer (see page 3 of the CPT Request Form for a template job offer letter)
  • Complete the Student and Employment Information sections of the CPT Request Form
  • Meet with your faculty advisor, and if the internship is for Co-Op credit, also meet with the Office of Career Planning, to complete the Advisor’s Certification on the CPT request form
  • Enroll in the appropriate course in order to receive credit for the CPT; print your schedule from Self Service confirming the enrollment
  • Submit completed CPT Request Form, offer letter, and enrollment confirmation to OIP
  • WAIT until you have received the CPT I-20 from OIP to begin work. Working without CPT authorization is considered unauthorized employment and a violation of F-1 status.

Severe Economic Hardship

In certain extreme situations, USCIS is authorized to grant a severe economic hardship (SEH) work permit to F-1 students for off-campus employment: 

“If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request off-campus employment work authorization based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. These circumstances may include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.” 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)

Below are a number of guidelines and considerations to keep in mind about SEH:

  • Off-campus employment can only begin after you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Please keep in mind USCIS processing time
  • The SEH application currently costs $520. Confirm the filing fee on USCIS’ website.
  • Employment may not interfere with your ability to maintain full-time enrollment and make normal progress towards your degree.
  • Employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year; no limitation on hours during official school breaks (including the summer term).
  • Employment does not have to be related to your field of study.
  • SEH authorization does not impact your eligibility for or duration of on-campus employment, CPT or OPT.
  • SEH is only authorized for one year at a time, or until your I-20 program end date, whichever is shorter.
  • SEH authorization ends if you graduate or transfer schools (even if your EAD indicates a later end date).
  • While SEH is a potential resource for financial support, it might not be a great option for various reasons (can be difficult to get approved, takes a long time to process, costs money to apply, etc). Do make sure to explore other options for financial support

To be eligible for SEH, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Have already been in F-1 status for one academic year (or will have been by the requested SEH start date)
  • In good academic standing and enrolled full time
  • Working will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that:
    • Off-campus employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship
    • The circumstances creating the financial need were unforeseen and beyond your control
    • On-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet your new financial need

Before moving forward with the process of applying for SEH, it is important to first consider the case you can make to demonstrate your eligibility. This involves not only explaining your circumstances and their impact, but documenting them as well. Consider starting with the following:

  • Personal Statement addressing the following:
    • What happened?  What is the financial hardship and how was it both unforeseen and beyond your control? (i.e. when you applied for your F-1 visa, you certified adequate funding to cover your expenses in the US; what has changed since then?)
    • Why is SEH needed?  Describe the IMPACT of the circumstances described above (how has your financial situation changed as a result) and why on-campus employment is either unavailable or insufficient to meet your needs.
    • How will SEH help? Discuss the feasibility that SEH authorization can sufficiently address your financial needs (i.e. how will making approx. $15/hour 20 hours/week help your situation? Realistically, is this enough to get you back on track? Why?). Also make sure to address how you plan to still maintain your studies while working on SEH.
  • Documents to support everything in your letter. Examples include:
    • News articles confirming the circumstances (currency devaluations, natural disasters, etc.)
    • Letters from individuals involved (for example, a family member, a financial sponsor, etc. confirming the situation)
    • Medical bills
    • Monthly budget to indicate that the funds earned in 20 hours/week of off-campus employment can realistically meet your needs
    • Transcript to prove your full-time enrollment and good standing

To apply for SEH, follow these steps:

  • Request SEH I-20 from OIP.  Email or bring to the office copies of the documents you have prepared so that OIP can confirm your SEH eligibility and give you any advice for strengthening your case. Once your eligibility is confirmed, OIP will proceed with issuing you a SEH I-20
  • Prepare the rest of the SEH application materials:
    • Form G-1145
    • Cover letter briefly explaining that you are applying for SEH and listing all your application materials
    • Check or money order for $520 made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (confirm current filing fee with USCIS)
    • Two U.S. passport-style photos taken within the past 30 days. Lightly write your name and SEVIS ID or I-94 number on the back of each photo
    • Completed Form I-765, using code (C)(3)(iii) in the eligibility category boxes on number 27
    • Copy of SEH I-20 once issued by OIP and signed by you (you keep the original)
    • Copies of your current immigration documents (I-94, passport, F-1 visa and any previously issued EADs)
    • Your personal statement and supporting documentation
    • Copy of your current Meredith College transcript 
  • Review and make a copy of your entire application with OIP to keep for your records. OIP will then assist you with mailing the application to USCIS.
  • Look for a text/email confirmation from USCIS shortly after they receive your materials. A paper I-797 Receipt Notice should follow in the mail. Review this I-797 carefully to make sure your name and address are correct; also make note of your receipt number, as this allows you to check your case status on USCIS’ website.
  • Contact OIP right away if you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). It is not uncommon for USCIS to ask applicants for additional information by issuing a RFE. RFEs are not cause for alarm, but they must be responded to relatively quickly.
  • Look for USCIS’ decision. If USCIS approves your application, you will receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the mail. If your application is denied, you will receive a denial notice in the mail. Please let OIP know once USCIS has adjudicated your case. You may begin off-campus employment once you have the EAD in hand and the start date has arrived.
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