Employment Opportunities and Co-op

This section is designed as a general overview of employment options for international students in F-1 status. It does not explain the various steps required for all categories. Please speak with an ISS staff member for more detailed application procedures.  Employment is defined as any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefits.

A Note of Caution

Unauthorized employment is the most serious violation of your F-1 status. You must consult with ISS before accepting any employment. We can then help you with matters pertaining to applications for employment authorization.

In general, there are two types of employment for F-1 students: On-campus and Off-campus employment.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 international students are allowed to work on-campus once they begin their studies at Wentworth.  Acceptable employment includes a Leopard Work Program job in any academic department or administrative office, including work performed on Wentworth's premises for an outside contractor such as the food service or bookstore. Employment is limited to 16 hours per week.

In order to be paid for any employment, a student must have a social security number.  Each person will only have one SSN in their lifetime, so students who already have one will not need to reapply.  For those who do not have an SSN, the application process is:

  1. Obtain a job offer for a Leopard Work Program job
  2. Request a letter on Wentworth letterhead from the direct supervisor that states:
    • student’s full name
    • name of on-campus department where the job will be held
    • job title
    • start date of employment
    • pay rate per hour
    • number of work hours per week
    • name, title, address and telephone number of direct supervisor
  3. Submit the letter along with your most recent I-94 record and passport copy to International Student Services.
  4. In two business days a new letter that supports your application as an F-1 Student for an SSN along with your employer letter will be available for pick-up at the Student Service Center.
  5. You will also need a new letter to be cleared at the SSC to work on-campus and this third letter will be provided to you at the same time as the SSN letter.
  6. Bring the first 2 letters, your Wentworth Form I-20, your passport and a completed application form from the Social Security Administration website (www.ssa.gov) to the Social Security Administration.  Check the SSA website for Boston area locations.

Off-Campus Employment

There are two main categories of off-campus work authorization available to students with F-1 Student non-immigrant status: (1) Practical Training and (2) Authorization Due to Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship.

(1) Practical Training – Temporary work authorization where the job is directly related to the student’s program of study (major).  There are two types of Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – This is the type of work authorization required for a Wentworth F-1 student to engage in a mandatory co-op.  Students must apply for CPT and receive authorization from their international student advisor before beginning their co-op.  A specific job offer that has been officially approved by the student’s Co-op Advisor is required to apply.  Students considering going on mandatory co-op should begin their job search early and contact their international student advisor 2 months before the co-op semester begins for information on how to apply.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) – This is the type of work authorization required for an F-1 student to engage in an optional co-op or any off-campus employment that is related to the student’s major. Students must apply for OPT and receive authorization from USCIS before beginning their co-op.  Students who would like to work off-campus in a job related to their major (whether for optional co-op or not) should contact their international student advisor at least 3 months before they would like to begin employment.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) 24-Month STEM Extension –The OPT STEM extension allows some students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to apply to extend their post-completion OPT authorization. Students with STEM degrees and currently in their 12-month OPT period should review the eligibility requirements, application timeline, and instructions at the Study in the States website. Please notate the strict deadlines to submit your application to USCIS.

(2) Authorization Due to Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship – Temporary work authorization for F-1 students whose financial sponsor’s situation has changed significantly for reasons that are beyond their and their sponsors’ control and that they could not have predicted. Examples of unforeseen economic hardship include a loss of financial support due to catastrophic loss of income by a sponsor, severe and unforeseen changes in currency exchange rates that affect the value of savings or an unexpected and substantial medical expense. For more detailed information, please contact International Student Services.