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University of Georgia

F1 Work Authorization Information

  • Please select the topics below to learn about F-1 work authorization options

  • On-Campus Employment

    On-campus employment does not require prior permission. It is limited to 20 hours per week or less while enrolled for full-time courses. Please see the link below for more information.

  • Curricular Practical Training

    Without prior authorization, F-1 students are not allowed to work off-campus at any time during your program of study. One type of work authorization is Curricular Practical Training, or CPT. Work may qualify for CPT if it is employment, paid or unpaid, that relates directly to the student's field of study and that is tied to an internship course that is required or essential to the student's degree program. So, the student would need to take a course, during the time that s/he is working, that is tied to the work he/she will be doing. The student must be enrolled at UGA for 1 academic year before s/he can begin CPT.

    More information is available on the CPT Information Sheet (see the link below) and in the online workshop listed in Step 1 below.

    The process for applying for CPT is as follows:

    1. Online workshop completion: If you wish to apply for CPT, you must complete the online workshop available at: Online CPT Workshop. Please review the workshop all the way to the end and fill out the form certifying your completion. This workshop is required before you can meet with an advisor to discuss CPT, even during walk-in hours.

    2. CPT application completion: You must also complete the OPT application in the iStart Portal at http://istart.uga.edu. Detailed instructions on how to use this form are available on the CPT Application Process handout: http://issis.uga.edu/docs/Student_Section/F1_CPT_application_process.pdf . After you submit your form, your academic advisor will also be asked to submit a form through iStart.

    3. Immigration Services Advisor Review: A Student Advisor will review the complete application and notify the student when a decision is made. If the application is approved, a new I-20 with the CPT recommendation will be processed and placed at the front desk for student pick up.

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Links

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

    There are three types of OPT authorization:

    1. Pre-completion OPT;
    2. Post-completion OPT, and
    3. STEM OPT Extension (available only to students who majored in and completed a degree in the Science, Technology, Engineering or Math fields).

    More information is available in the online workshop listed in Step 1 below.

    The process for applying for OPT is as follows. You must complete these steps in order.

    1. Online workshop completion: If you wish to apply for OPT, you must complete the online workshop available at: Online OPT Workshop. We will not process your request for OPT until we verify that the workshop has been completed in full. We will receive notification when you have completed the workshop. This workshop is required before you can meet with an advisor to discuss OPT, even during walk-in hours.
    2. OPT application completion: You must also complete the OPT application in the iStart Portal at http://istart.uga.edu. Detailed instructions on how to use this form are available on the OPT Application Process handout: http://issis.uga.edu/docs/Student_Section/F1_OPT_application_process.pdf 
    3. Optional in-person meeting: AFTER completing Steps 1 and 2, you may then meet with an advisor for any last-minute questions you may have about your OPT application. This appointment would be geared toward application review only. Consulting with an advisor is not mandatory, but if you wish to speak with an advisor about your application please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make an appointment, or drop in during our walk-in hours.

    You may begin applying for Post-Completion OPT 90 days before completion of your academic program. Do not apply early.

  • STEM OPT Extension

    F-1 students with degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) may be eligible for an extension of their Post-Completion OPT work permission. On March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new expanded regulations which take effect on May 10, 2016. There are many details about the new STEM OPT regulations that need further clarification. Before making any plans to be employed on STEM OPT please speak to your advisor in Immigration Services. On the menu below you will see specific categories of information about STEM OPT.

    What’s Different?

    • May now be as long as 24 months beyond the initial post-completion OPT period
    • Students may be eligible to have two STEM OPT extensions during their time in the U.S.
    • Students currently in a non-STEM degree can be eligible for a STEM OPT extension based on a previous STEM degree obtained in the U.S. from an accredited institution.
    • There is a new expanded list of STEM eligible CIP codes.
    • The student and employer will be required to use the new Form I-983
    • Additional reporting requirements (evaluation, exit survey, etc…)
    • Employers must provide a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
    • DHS is permitted to conduct employer site visits to confirm that training plan goals are being met.
    • Volunteering is no longer permitted on the STEM OPT extension.
    • Students' compensation must be commensurate to similarly situated U.S. workers.
    • Self-employment is not permitted.
    • Small start-up companies: There appear to be ways for some to qualify as long as the employer has an FEIN, student is considered an “employee” and a supervisor can complete the I-983.
    • Most temporary agency and contract work will not be eligible
    • During the STEM OPT extension you could have up to 150 days of unemployment time

    I want to file my first STEM OPT application.....

    We recommend that you speak to your Immigration Services advisor about the best time to file. All STEM extension applications, regardless of when they are filed, must be received by USCIS before your current Post-Completion OPT expires. In some cases, it may be better to wait until the new rule has taken affect but for others you may need to file now while you still can. Anyone considering a STEM OPT extension will be required to complete the Form I-983 with their employer. We recommend that you begin conversations now with your employer about the I-983 so that you have one prepared when you need to file the application.

    STEM OPT Links

  • Tax Information

    The Office of International Student Life provides students with help and information on taxes. Click here for more information. Taxation Information for International Students

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