International Student Employment

Generally, international students are not permitted to work in the United States, thought there are some exceptions. Please note that in EVERY case the Center for Global Engagement must be notified BEFORE you begin working. In addition to the opportunities below, students can apply for work permission based on severe economic hardship. Please contact Jesse Phillips for more information.

On-Campus Employment

International students may work on-campus. However, they must always get permission from the Center for Global Engagement before they start working. Here are the steps to work on campus:

  • Work with Career Services to find and apply for a job. Get started by clicking here.
  • Once you are hired, please complete the Social Security Work On-Campus Authorization Form, available by clicking here.
  • Take completed form with TWO signatures to the Social Security Administration offices. You can find office locations by clicking here. RMU recommends that you visit the office in downtown Pittsburgh, as our students tend to have better outcomes there.
  • Once approved for an SSN, it takes an average of two weeks to receive the card. Once you receive your Social Security Number, you may begin working.

Internships (CPT)

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? 

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an opportunity for international students to obtain work experience in their field of study. These experiences can be internships, research, or cooperative education programs.
  • If you are being paid in anyway for these activities you MUST apply for CPT. 

When can you start? 

  • Start the process as soon as you become interested! Keep in mind that you must be lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year (Fall and Spring) at Robert Morris University before you can start the CPT process. (An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular training). 
  • You will need to search for, find, and be hired for the job before you register for CPT. The Career Center can help you with that.
  • Once you get the job, you will need to register for the CPT before you start working.

What do you need? 

  • To be enrolled as a full time student at Robert Morris University
  • A Letter or Email from the company giving you the job to verify the dates you will be employeed, hours per week you will work, and job description
  • To be enrolled in an internship class at Robert Morris University, including summer opportunities
  • Complete CPT application, found here

Things you should know? 

  • There is a limit to the amount of time per week you can work
    • During the Spring or Fall you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week
    • During the summer you can work over 20 hours per week
  • Your CPT is only valid for the dates printed on your I-20, it is possible to extend your CPT but you must submit a new application each time, and register for additional credits.
  • CPT will be granted for the length of the semester that you are enrolled in an internship class and/or for no more than four months.

Questions? Please contact Safiyyah Scott for more information.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 international students to gain valuable work experience in their field of study. This is a chance to learn how American businesses operate and possibly be offered further work opportunities!

Please note, this page is for Post-Completion OPT. For information on Pre-Completion, please contact Jesse Phillips.

When can I apply?

Students must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at RMU for one full academic year (two semesters) before being eligible for OPT. Students may apply as early as 90 days before their program end date, and up to 60 days after their program end date. It is highly recommended to apply as as soon as possible. Your program end date is two days after grades are due for your final semester, which can be found on the RMU Academic Calendar.

Please note that advising OPT appliction is a time consuming process, so we are unable to honor walk-ins. Once your application is complete, please make an appointment with Jesse to review your OPT application.

When can I start?

You may choose a start date that is within 60 days of your graduation. 
Important note: OPT applications take an average of 3 months to be processed. It is highly recommended that you apply as early as possible to make sure your application is processed before the day you want to start. You may not apply more than 90 days before your graduation date.

Please download the RMU OPT application to get started, and for information about the process here: RMU OPT Application | RMU Responsibilities

Please bring this completed application with you to your OPT appointment.

The application will be mailed by Robert Morris University on your behalf to USCIS. All original documents will be returned to you, and you will be given copy of the application and all accompanying documents for your records.

You are advised to set up an appointment in the Center for Global Engagement as soon as you decide to pursue OPT, or at least 90 days before you graduate.

You must receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before starting any employment.

How do I check my case status?

After you apply for OPT, USCIS will notify the Center for Global Engagement that your application has been received. This will be scanned and forwarded to you. Included in this receipt is a number that begins with EAC or YSC. You can use this number to check the status of your case.

How do I report my OPT Employment?

Please provide the following information to Jesse Phillips:

  • Offer letter from employer that includes start date, job title, and hours per week
  • Employer's Address (location where you will physically be working)
  • Employer EIN number (not mandatory, but highly recommended)
  • Supervisor's name/phone/email
  • Brief statement from you on how job is related to degree

How do I apply for a STEM Extension?

You are eligible for a STEM extension if your degree is in the STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) field and your OPT position is directly related to your degree. Please review the RMU STEM application form for more information and instructions on how to apply.

Please visit Study in the States for more detailed information about STEM extension, and resources for students and employers.

Contact Jesse Phillips with any questions or to make an appointment.

IMPORTANT: Working in the United States without permission could result in a temporary or lifetime ban due to being considered illegally present. For a more comprehensive look at international student employment regulations, please click here.