Skip to main content
Scenes from the College of Arts and Sciences

F-1 , J-1 and H-1B visa Employment Information

Employment is defined as any type of work or service in exchange for money, tuition, food, room or other form of compensation.

International students in valid F-1 or J- status are permitted to work under certain circumstances. Employment options are limited, but may include both on-campus and off-campus, full-time or part-time, as described below.

Off campus employment categories for international students include: Academic Training (J-1 visa), Curricular Practical Training (F-1 visa), Severe Economic Hardship, and Optional Practical Training (F-1 visa). Look below for additional instructions about this categories of student employment.

If you are uncertain whether a particular employment opportunity would be allowed, speak to an international student advisor before accepting a job offer. Keep in mind that unauthorized (illegal) employment is a clear violation of your F1 or J-1 terms, and will have serious consequences.

The H-1B visa is designed for foreign workers in "Specialty Occupations" and is used often to bring foreign professionals, professors and researchers to the American work place including: research foundations, hospitals and universities. Specialty Occupation is defined as an occupation that requires at least a Bachelor's degree in the field of intended employment. If the professional has a Bachelor's degree but the position does not require at least a Bachelor's degree to perform the duties, the occupation will not qualify for the H-1B visa category.

Off-Campus Employment Categories

Academic Training (J-1 Only):

Academic Training (AT) allows a J-1 student to engage in employment, a URI internship, or co-op experience during or after a student's exchange program ends. The employment must be directly related to their field of study. For questions and/or individual appointments concerning Academic Training, contact Melissa de Jesus:

Curricular Practical Training (F-1 only):


  • CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study.
  • When you enroll at the graduate level, your designated school official (DSO) may authorize CPT during your first semester if your program requires this type of experience. Ask your DSO for details.
  • Your DSO will provide you a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that shows that the DSO has approved you for this employment.
  • You can work on CPT either full-time (up to 20 hours while school is in session; up to 40 hours when school is not in session) or part-time.
  • CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer.
  • If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from doing OPT.

For questions and/or meetings concerning Curricular Practical Training (CPT), contact Amie Limon:

Employment Authorization Under Severe Economic Hardship

Only students whose financial situation has changed unexpectedly and/or beyond their control may apply for Economic Hardship. Applicable Examples: loss of financial aid, unexpected loss of sponsorship (partial or total), substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, large increases in tuition, medical bills, living costs, and/or other substantial unexpected expenses. When processing a request to Employmnet Authorization under Severe Economic Hardship conditions, contact Amie Limon:

Optional Practical Training (F-1 Only):

Temporary employment for practical training that is directly related to the student's major area of study and commensurate with the degree level. In most cases, students request Optional Practical Training duaring their last semester prior to graduate; or during their last semester while writing the thesis. When processing an Optional Practical Training (OPT) request, contact Amie Limon:


The H-1B visa may be held for a maximum of six years with an initial grant of up to three years. It is practical to request the maximum (three years) time period in the initial H-1B visa application process because filing is time-intensive and the fees involved can be costly. Requesting the maximum period of H-1B employment will eliminate the need for a re-filing process each year. In cases where there is a year by year contract which must be renewed annually, the employer may consider writing a letter supporting the visa application for the maximum period of three years by inserting the contingency clause "pending the renewal of the contract" or "pending the availability of funds" (in the case of research grants). This suggestion is made only as a practicality and is by no means required.

An important benefit of the H-1B visa category is that the Immigration Act of 1990 gives H-1B visa holders special protections if they are applying simultaneously for Permanent Residency.

Helpful Links and Summaries

US Citizenship and Immigration Services: H-1B visa

URI Division of Research and Economic Development

URI OISS H-1B Helpful Facts

OISS Summary of H-1B Procedures

University of Rhode Island • Office of International Students & Scholars • International Center • 37 Lower College Road; Kingston, Rhode Island, 02881


International Student Orientation

Date: Friday, September 4, 2015


Place: Multicultural Center

Undergraduate Students' Time:

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Graduate Students' Time:

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.



Reporting responsibilities of F-1 International Students while on (OPT)

FALL 2015 OPT workshop schedule: Available

Host Family Application Download in PDF format