F-1 Status Employment

Please review the employment options and requirements below. It is important that you're aware of the information below to maintain your immigration status.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is a work authorization benefit allowing F-1 students to gain up to one year of experience in their fields of study, generally after completion of studies.  Employment must be directly related to the student's area of study.  OPT can also be used before completion of studies during school breaks (40 hours/week) and while school is in session (up to 20 hours/week).  If you are done with all coursework, you may be eligible to use full-time OPT while completing your research.

  • You do not need a job offer to apply.
  • Your application is processed through USCIS and it costs $410.
  • You may apply up to 90 days before graduation or during your 60 days grace period following graduation. (keep in mind it takes a week to mail plus between 45-60 days to process).

If you are planning to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you are required to attend a workshop detailing specifics on the application procedure.  It is not necessary to sign up for a certain date.  Please feel free to attend whichever workshop is convenient for you. You may access the presentation online to follow along.

Students who have maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year before applying are eligible to apply for OPT.  If you have any questions, please visit our office in the 301 S. Jefferson, Suite 101, (417) 836-6618, InternationalStudentServices@MissouriState.edu.

Reporting Requirements

If the following events occur during your OPT period, use the mandatory reporting form to communicate with our office.

  1. Change of employer
  2. Change of address
  3. Change of name
  4. STEM statement

Students who have been granted the 17-month extension of OPT must also verify employer information every six months while on OPT.  This means that the student must confirm his or her information, even if it has not changed recently.

You can report this information and any changes to the International Student Services by submitting our OPT Reporting Form.


In addition, DHS is now requiring information concerning periods of unemployment during OPT.  F-1 status during OPT now depends upon maintaining continuous employment.  Students are not permitted more than 90 days of unemployment (total) during the 12-month period of post completion OPT.  In addition, any student who extends his or her OPT for the optional 17-month period may not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT authorization. Unemployment should be reported to International Services via email at InternationalServices@MissouriState.edu.

OPT Extensions

If you have a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) you may be eligible to file for a 17-month OPT extension.

    • In order to obtain the 17-month extension, first verify your degree is on the list or Approved degrees.
    • Next, make sure your employer is enrolled in the E-Verify system.
    • To apply, contact the ISS at (417) 836-6618 and make an appointment (phone appointments are welcome) to discuss the application process and obtaining your new I-20.
    • Remember, you cannot apply for the OPT extension without a new I-20 showing the requested work authorization.
    • Finally, apply for the extension within the last 90 days of your standard OPT.
    • To apply, you will need a new I-20, the form I-765, copies of immigration documents and previous EAD cards, copies of any changes in immigration status, 2 passport-style photos, and a check/money order for $380.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization for off-campus employment that allows an F-1 student to participate in University's Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program, or a paid internship, practicum or research in the student's field of study which meets the University's degree requirements.

CPT may be full-time or part-time.  CPT is authorized by International Student Services, guided by USCIS regulations.

If you are planning to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you are required to attend a workshop detailing specifics on the application procedure.  It is not necessary to sign up for a certain date.  Please feel free to attend whichever workshop is convenient for you. You may access the presentation online to follow along.

CPT Undergraduate Co-op

The University's Cooperative Education Program (Cp-op) for professional internships is administered by the Career Center.  You must have at least 30 semester credit hours, 1 academic year in F-1 status, and at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify.  You are not eligible for on-campus employment while on co-op.  There are two terms of employment while on co-op.  You may choose:

    • Parallel - While attending school full-time: 20 hours per week for 3 consecutive semesters.
    • Alternating - Alternating between a semester of full-time school and a semester of full-time work (40 hours per week).  You must work 2 alternating semesters. Enrollment is not required during employment periods.

CPT Graduate Co-op

You must have completed at least one semester in your program of study and be in good standing.  You must participate in both (two) terms of the co-op prior to completion of your degree and participation cannot delay progress on your degree.

    • You must have at least 3.5 GPA.
    • You must still be completing coursework for your degree.  If you are only working on thesis or dissertation research, you are ineligible.  Graduate co-op is for full-time employment.

International Organization

This work authorization is available to students wishing to work with a select group of international organizations.  You must first obtain a job offer from the organization, and then apply for work authorization through the International Student Services.  Your international student advisor will assist you with the application, which is sent to USCIS.  The current application cost with USCIS is $410. 

Economic Hardship

Students who have experienced a severe and unforeseeable change in their financial situations since entering the U.S. may apply for economic hardship work authorization.  This authorization permits off-campus work for up to 20 hours/week during the school year and up to 40 hours/week during school breaks.  The work does not have to be related to the student's field of study.  You apply through ISS and the application is processed by USCIS.  The cost is $410.