Working while pursuing your degree is a great way to secure additional funding, meet people, make friends, practice your English and learn about American culture in a very hands-on way.

As an F1/J1 student, you are eligible to work on campus for 20 hours per week during school, and 40 hours per week during school breaks. Students can work off campus only if they have received written work authorization approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the International Programs Office.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined to be alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to the student's major area of study.

Documents to be submitted to DSO (Designated School Official):

1. CPT Application - Student will complete top portion of form and then you will need your academic advisor to complete the bottom portion.

2. Letter from the employer stating (on letterhead):

  • employers name and address
  • number of hours to be worked per week
  • exact employment start and end date
  • if and what you are going to be paid

3. Call International Education Services at 906-227-2510 to set up an appointment with a Designated School Official and bring all required documentation.

A request for authorization for CPT must be made to the DSO. A student may begin CPT training only after receiving his or her I-20 with the DSO endorsement stating CPT is granted.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an F1 student benefit that you can apply for to request to work in your field of study for up to 12 months.

As an F1 student, you may only work off campus in the U.S. if you have received written work authorization approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

To apply for OPT you must meet the following minimum requirements:

1. You must have been enrolled as a full-time student in legal immigration status for at least one academic year (two semesters) before your OPT begins.

2. You must apply for post-completion OPT within 90 days before or up to 60 days after your program end date on your I-20.

3. OPT must begin no later than 60 days after completion date indicated in Item 5 on the I-20 and end no later than 14 months after the completion date.

Application Process:

The International Education Services Office must recommend you for OPT and USCIS is the agency that will review and make a decision on your OPT application.  Approval from USCIS comes in the form of a photo ID card called an "Employment Authorization Document" or "EAD" card.

1. Complete Form I-765 online and print on form I-765 enter in item 16 "(c) (3) (B)".

2. Copy of I-20 with OPT recommendation by DSO + copies of all I-20's received to date

3. Submit documentation from your academic adviser indicating the current academic status and the expected date of completion of studies.

4. Write a check to the order of "US Department of Homeland Security" in the amount of the fee required for Form I-765 ($410 as of 02 February 2017) Check for current rate

5. Include two (2) passport photos (write your name in pencil on the back of each picture)

6. Include a copy of I-94 card (print I-94 online at

7. Copy of your current passport and visa

Once you have all information, contact the International Programs Office at 906-227-2510 to schedule an appointment with a Designated School Official (DSO). 

Additional Information:

1. Your work must be directly related to your major field of study and it must be appropriate for someone having your level of education. No job offer is needed at the time of application.

2. Optional Practical Training authorization is limited to a total of 12 months per each higher degree level (bachelor's, master's and Ph.D.)

3. There are restrictions on when students may utilize part- or full-time OPT.

  • Part-time during the course of study, provided training and other employment (both on and off campus) does not exceed 20 hours per week total.
  • Full-time during the vacation period.
  • Full-time after completion of all requirements for a degree or course of study.

4. You cannot work off-campus under any circumstances until you have been authorized by a designated school official at the International Education Services and USCIS.

Sample Explanations of a Direct Relationship of OPT to a student's field of study (provided by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement): 

  1. Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied in-depth at the University of ABC.
  2. Bachelor's degree in Business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, Happy Homes, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.
  3. Master's degree in Music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.
  4. Master's degree in Kinesiology: I am working 25 hours a week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer's overall nutrition and exercise plan. My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning.

A student can apply for Severe Economic Hardship if something drastically has changed in his/her financial support.

Some examples include: 

  • you father is a contractor and your home government has frozen all his contracts
  • the person who is sponsoring you has a medical condition which has stopped him/her from work
  • there are extreme medical costs to you are in your family
  • there is currency devaluation in your country

To apply for Economic Hardship you must present the following:

A. Document the circumstances causing the economic need;

  1. Write a statement describing the unforseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student's home country.

B. Explain why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient.

C. Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization using the code: (c) (3) (iii) in item 16

D. Obtain two passport photos

E. Check to the order of "USCIS" (check for current fee)

  1. You can apply for a fee waiver by filing a I-912 request for a fee waiver application.

F. Copy of I-94 card (front and back)

G. Copy of the ID pages from the student's passport, or, for applications for renewal of work authorization, a photocopy of the previously issued EAD

Once you have all information together and you are ready to send in your application, please call the International Education Services Office at 906-227-2510 to schedule an appointment with a Designated School Official. 

International students are allowed to work, on campus only and once you find a job you will need to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN).

Need help finding an on campus job, resume help and many job opportunities, please see our Career Services website

Here is the process to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number:

  • Receive a job offer and have your supervisor fill out the F1 Letter or J1 Letter offer letter.
  • Make an appointment with the International Programs Office to complete the Social Security Application Process
    • Social Security Application
    • I-20 or DS 2019
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • I-94

On-campus Employment Resources

Career Services

This website provides resources and services to assist you with career placement. You can find listings of full-time jobs, part-time jobs, summer jobs, internships, and other jobs both on and off-campus. You will also find helpful advice on preparing a resume, interviewing and more.

Online Resume System

This system will allow you to automatically upload your finished resume onto the Career Services website for employers to view. Key features of this new service include: Keyword search, user edits, and up-to-date files. You can update your resume in the system at any time.

Human Resources

If you work on-campus, the Human Resources website is a valuable resource where you can find answers to your payroll questions. On the payroll page, you will learn about payroll dates, setting up direct deposit, using the Ultra Time System and other helpful information. Make sure you know the facts so you can get paid in a proper manner.

Academic training is the name the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program uses for employment training or practical experience related to your field of study. It is fairly flexible and offers a variety of paid and unpaid, full-time or part-time, training or employment situations, with one or more employers, to supplement your academic program in the U.S. 

If you are considering academic training, your authorization must be processed before your official academic program completion date. In addition, the academic training/employment must begin within the first 30 days after the official academic program completion date. 

Official Regulation: “A student may participate in academic training programs during his or her studies, without wages or other remuneration, with the approval of the academic dean or advisor and the Exchange Visitor Program Responsible Officer (RO or ARO). A student may be authorized to participate in academic training for wages or other remuneration during his or her studies or commencing not later than thirty (30) days after completion of his or her studies.” (Source: 22CFR. § 62.23(f)(2)). The ARO referred to in this regulation is the International Student Advisor in the International Programs Office. 

Eligibility for Academic Training

1. The student is primarily in the United States to study rather than engage in academic training

2. The academic training is directly related to the students major field of study at Northern Michigan University

3. The student is in good academic standing and has received written approval, in advance, from the Responsible Officer for the duration and type of academic training. 

4. Your employment/training must take place with the specific employer or employers who are noted on the academic training authorization

Time Limit

Non-degree students are eligible to participate in academic training, but are also subject to the requirement that time in academic training not exceed the time spent in the program of study. 

How to Apply for Academic Training

  1. Have a formal employment offer, written on official stationery (letterhead) from your potential academic training employer. The job offer letter from your employer must include:
    1. Your job title
    2. A brief description of the goals and objectives of your training or employment
    3. Start and end dates
    4. Location of your training or employment
    5. Number of hours per wee, salary and benefits
    6. Name and title of your training supervisor
  2. Obtain a letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or dean recommending this academic training. You will need to provide him/her with a copy of your employment offer letter. The recommendation letter from you academic advisor or dean must include:
    1. The goals and objective of the specific training program
    2. A description of the training program, including all the information list above
    3. How the training relates to your major field of study
    4. Why this employment is an integral or critical part of your academic program
    5. The length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the academic training
  3. Complete the Academic Training Form
  4. Schedule an appointment with your international student advisor in the International Programs Office and bring the following information:
    1. The completed academic training form
    2. Employment offer letter
    3. Letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or dean
    4. Proof of funding to show how you will support yourself during your academic training 
  5. If your application is approved, you will be issued a new Form DS-2019 authorizing the academic training for the duration you requested. Your employer will be listed on the academic training authorization letter accompanying the new Form DS 2019. The end date on this form is now the end date of your J-1 program.

For any questions, please contact the International Education Services Office at 906-227-2510 to talk to a Designated School Official.  

If you are coming to the United States to work or study, we are confident that you will have a pleasant and rewarding stay. If you should encounter any problems, however, know that you have rights and can get help. This pamphlet informs you of your rights as a nonimmigrant visa holder in certain employment- and education-based categories (specifically A-3, G-5, NATO-7, B-1 domestic employees, H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and J-1 visa holders). The U.S. government created this pamphlet at the prompting of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (Public Law 110-457), which reaffirms and strengthens the U.S. government’s commitment to fight human trafficking and labor abuses in all their forms.

Every international student, and their dependents, that were enrolled in classes in the USA at any time are required to file taxes. 

First, fill out and submit the "International Tax Questionnaire" form. Once you submit this form, you will receive an email stating what specific information you need to bring to file your taxes and when you can start to file your taxes. 

After you receive your email, then you will call the International Education Services Office at 906-227-2510 to reserve a spot at a tax session.

Documentation that you need to bring to your tax session:

  • Passport
  • I-20 (F1 visa students) or DS 2019 (J1 visa students)
  • Entry/Exit Dates - go to the I-94 website, click on the "view travel history" button, enter your passport information, print out your travel history. 
  • Academic Advisor Information (name and email)
  • W2 - if you worked in the U.S. in 2018 you will receive a W2 from your employer. You can access your NMU W2 through your MyNMU account. 
  • 1042S form - if you are an athlete or our Sister City Scholar and you were charged withholding taxes on your NMU Ebill account you will get a 1042S form around March 15th. 
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International Education Office can assist you with questions you may have regarding on-campus and off-campus employment. We can be reached at or 906-227-2510.