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Many international students wish to work while they are in the United States. Please read the information below carefully as different requirements are necessary for different types of work.

Social Security Numbers

Once you receive an offer for employment you must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

Please see additional information below for frequently asked questions related to SSNs.

  • What is an SSN and how do I get one?

    SSNs are highly confidential numbers issued to people for identification and tax purposes. Anyone who gets paid, must have an SSN.  In order to apply for an SSN, students must have a job. 

    To obtain a social security number you will need to first call to make an appointment at the Social Security Administration office. The closest office is located in downtown Boston, at 10 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02222.

    It is not possible to apply online. You must have a personal interview with a Social Security Administration representative.

    Print and fill out the ss-5 application form prior to your appointment:

    You must bring the following documents:

    • Passport
    • Most recent I-94 record; visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94
    • Your I-20 with CPT work authorization OR your Employment Authorization Document 
    • Completed ss-5 form

    It usually takes two to three weeks from the time you visit the Social Security Administration to the time you receive your social security card in the mail. Due to COVID-19 delays, it may take longer.

  • Do I need an SSN for any job?

    You will need an SSN to get paid for your job, so any paid CPT, OPT, or On-Campus Leopard Work job will require you to get an SSN.

  • Can I start working before I get my SSN?

    This depends on your employer. You will not violate your immigration status as long as you have applied for the number and can show proof of that. However, since SSNs are used to report wages to the Federal Government, some employers may make you wait until you get your SSN to begin working. You should be sure to verify this prior to starting.
     

  • Do I need an SSN to get a driver’s license?

    No. An SSN is not required to get a Massachusetts driver’ permit or license. However, you will need a denial letter from the Social Security Administration office in place of an SSN. To get this, you still need to visit the Social Security Administration Office.

  • Where is the nearest Social Security Office?

    The closest office is located in downtown Boston, at 10 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02222. Visit www.ssa.gov for the most up-to-date hours.

On-Campus Employment

If you were issued an I-20, it may be possible for you to work on-campus.

  • F-1 Students

    Eligibility

    Students may work up to 16 hours per week on-campus when school is in session. Students may work full-time (40 hours per week) during breaks if the students plans to and is eligible to register for the next semester. Students on an F-1 visa may not work in on-campus positions after graduating, unless it is for optional practical training (OPT).

    Note: International students are only eligible for Leopard Work Program jobs.
    Please reach out studentwork@wit.edu for further assistance with on-campus employment.

  • F-2 Dependents

    Dependents are not allowed to work on an F-2 visa.

Off-Campus Employment

Off-campus work is available only through special authorization by a Designated School Official for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT is used for required co-ops.

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

    CPT is work authorization that allows F-1 students to participate in a mandatory co-op.

    Eligibility

    CPT is open to students who have maintained active F-1 status in their current academic program for at least 1 academic year prior to beginning CPT. 

    Students must secure approval from their co-op advisor, co-op employer with a report-of-hire on WITworks, and be registered for either co-op 3500 or co-op 4500.

    CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum and the co-op experience must be directly related to the student's declared major.

    Important Note: Using full-time CPT for 12 months or more makes an F-1 student ineligible for OPT. CPT may be done on- or off-campus.

    Not sure who your co-op advisor is? Visit the Co-ops and Careers page to meet the Advising Team

    Process

    Students should work with their co-op advisors to obtain a co-op that will fit their academic needs. Once students have secured a co-op, they should work with their co-op employer to get approval for their job on WITworks through their report-of-hire. After students have found a job and gotten the required approval, they should make an appointment with Sarah Sculley and bring their CPT Application to ISSE for processing and review of CPT rules and regulations. Be sure to make your appointment prior to your employment start date! 

    Important Note: It is a violation of F-1 Student status to begin employment before employment authorization begins.

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization is a benefit of F-1 status that allows students to work off-campus in a field related to their major area of study. Obtaining OPT is a two-step process which begins with a recommendation from the DSO and is completed with approval of the application by USCIS and issuing of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

    Students who are eligible for OPT (must be enrolled full-time for 1 academic year immediately prior to beginning OPT) are allowed a maximum of 12 months of OPT. 

    There are two types of OPT: Pre-completion OPT and Post-completion OPT.

    Pre-completion OPT is work authorization allowing F-1 students to be employed off-campus at a job directly related to their major (such as optional co-op) before completing all degree requirements.

    Post-completion OPT is work authorization allowing F-1 students to be employed off-campus at a job directly related to their major after completing all degree requirements.

    Pre-completion OPT is deducted from 12 months of OPT. Part-time OPT (20 hours per week or less) is deducted at a rate of half time. For example, if a student does pre-completion part-time for 2 months, only one month is deducted from the 12 months allowed.  Full-time OPT (20 hours per week or more), is deducted as full-time. For example, if a student does full-time pre-completion OPT for 3 months, 3 months will be taken away form the 12 months allowed for OPT.

    Important Note: Full-time pre-completion OPT is only available during official school breaks such as winter or summer break for Freshman and Sophomores. 

    Process

    Students should review the OPT instructions and complete the OPT application to the best of their ability. Then they should make an appointment with ISSE to review it, discuss their OPT start date, and get their new I-20 needed to finalize their application. 

    Students should prepare to upload the following documents to their application:

    • Copy of passport (biographical page)
    • Copy of visa
    • Copy of most recent I-94
    • Previous EADs, if any
    • Copies of any previous I-20s with CPT/OPT authorizations 
    • Digital passport style photo

    There is a fee to apply for OPT. Students should go to www.uscis.gov to check the fee as it changes from time to time.

    Within a few weeks of submitting applications, students will receive communication from USCIS saying that the application has been received. Students should keep any communication they receive from USCIS. A receipt number will be on the letter received and students can check the status of their application. 

    Timeline

    Students may apply for post-completion OPT no more than 90 days prior to the program end date listed on their I-20 and no later than 60 days after the program end date. The OPT start date must be within 60 days of the program end date. 

    Students are encouraged to apply early, if possible, as processing times can vary from approximately 1-5 months each year.

     

  • STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)

    Eligibility

    • Students who are on the approved list of STEM majors according the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), may be eligible for a 24 month STEM OPT extension. The CIP code on the I-20 much match the one of the codes on the list.
    • Students may only apply for STEM OPT if they have participated in post-completion OPT. 
    • Students must have employment and their employer must be active in E-Verify.

    Process

    Student must first complete and submit the form I-983 training plan to ISSE. (This will not be submitted with your application to USCIS.)

    Students should review the STEM OPT filing instructions and fill out the application to the best of their ability. If they have questions, students can reach out to ISSE for additional assistance.  ISSE will also need to provide the I-20 with the STEM extension request.

    Students should be prepared to upload the following materials for their STEM OPT application: 

    • Copy of passport (biographical page)
    • Copy of visa
    • Copy of most recent I-94
    • Previous EADs
    • Copy of your diploma and/or transcript reflecting your STEM eligible area of study
    • New digital passport style photo
    • New I-20 with STEM OPT request from ISSE

    There is a fee to apply for STEM OPT. Students should go to www.uscis.gov to check the fee as it changes from time to time.

    Within a few weeks of submitting applications, students will receive communication from USCIS saying that the application has been received. Students should keep any communication they receive from USCIS. A receipt number will be on the letter received and students can check the status of their application. 

    Timeline

    Students may apply up to 90 days before their current OPT expires and must apply before the expiration date on the current EAD card.

    Students may continue working up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the post-completion OPT as long as the STEM OPT application is pending.