F Visa Employment Options

F-1 Employment

Students in F-1 status may accept employment under certain conditions if they are eligible. If you have questions about or would like to determine your eligibility for F-1 employment, please contact International Student Services. Please note: F-1 students attending IEI only are not eligible for employment.

On-campus employment: on-campus employment is defined as employment that provides a paycheck from Ball State University. Positions include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, some fellowships, and hourly employment (food services, library, etc).

As a student in F-1 status, you are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full-time during school vacation periods. Please note that you may only work 20 hours per week if summer is your first semester at Ball State University. You must receive written permission from International Student Services before pursuing on-campus employment. To receive permission to work on-campus you must submit the permission to work form.   Also please note that you must complete a Form I-9 in your hiring department prior to working on-campus and that your on-campus employment must stop once you complete your studies.

Applying for On-Campus Student Employment

Follow the instructions of the Ball State University Career Center to apply for on-campus jobs.


CPT (curricular practical training) is authorization for employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum with an official course description listed in the Ball State University undergraduate or graduate course catalog and is directly related to your major area of study. It may be defined as: 

  • alternate work/study

  • internship, cooperative education

  • other type of required internship practicum.

The potential employment must be related to your major and to a specific course in which you have enrolled. Ball State policy requires students to be enrolled in a specific internship or practicum course while engaging in CPT employment.

CPT can be full time (more than 20 hours per week) or part time (20 hours or less per week). Students registered for part-time CPT during a fall or spring semester must also be full-time students and be registered for a full course of study.  Special provisions apply for graduate assistants and students already employed on campus.  Please visit a Foreign Student Advisor for additional details.

Students engaged in part-time CPT during summer vacation do not need to be registered full-time for classes. Students who complete 12 months of full-time CPT are not eligible to engage in OPT. 

Students must be in legal status which includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Possessing a valid passport

  • Being registered as a full-time student each and every semester (excluding summers)

  • Having had F-1 student status for at least one full academic year 


How to Apply For CPT

To apply for CPT you will need to sign up for an appointment with a Foreign Student Advisor. Schedule the appointment by calling 285-5422 after preparing the following documents: 

    1. if the position is full- or part-time (specify the number of hours per week)
    2. the location (street address) of employment
    3. the beginning and ending dates of employment

      Optional Practical Training (OPT)

      Optional Practical Training is a benefit of F-1 student status.  It allows students to have work authorization for off-campus employment in their academic major field of study.  To be eligible, you must be in valid F-1 status for one academic year.

      The name of the work permit for OPT is the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). A total of twelve (12) months of OPT is available for qualified students to use after each degree level completion as an F-1 student.

      USCIS must grant an employment authorization document (EAD) before a student may commence employment.

      Eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

      In order to apply for optional practical training (OPT), you must be able to respond, “Yes,” to the following questions:

      • Is your I-20 current?
      • Does it reflect your current field of study and educational level?
      • Do you have a valid, unexpired passport?
      • Have you had less than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT)?
      • Have you been a full-time student for one full academic year?
      • Have you been full-time as an F-1 student every semester you attended Ball State?

      How to apply for OPT

      OPT Application Process

      Please read the OPT application guide.The application is completed in four steps:

      The application is completed in 4 steps:

      1. Attend an OPT information session at the Rinker Center for International Programs

      2. Prepare your application materials

              Allow approximately 1 week to gather and organize your materials for mailing

      3. Make an appointment with a Foreign Student Advisor (OPT applications will not be reviewed during walk-in hours) During the OPT appointment you may and ask individual questions of the Foreign Student Advisor who will check your application for errors.

      4. Mail and Receive your Employment  Authorization Document (EAD)

              3 months on average after your application has been received by USCIS

      OPT Information Sessions

      International Student Services has several OPT information sessions every semester. It is a good opportunity to learn more about OPT and ask questions before applying.  You will receive an email from the Rinker Center for International Programs informing you when these information sessions are offered.

      Forms for OPT

      OPT Application Guide (PDF)

      OPT Request Form (PDF)