International students' visas

The majority of international students at Missouri State University are in the US on an F-1 or J-1 visa. The F-1 visa carries restrictions of which the students must be aware in order to avoid legal issues. For instance, students with F-1 visas are only allowed to work for pay on campus unless they use their CPT or OPT option which has restrictions or qualify for economic hardship work authorization. J-1 students also have regulations to follow which differ from F-1 students. To find on campus employment, visit the Office of Student Employment Services in 113 Shannon Residence Hall. If you are a graduate student looking to work on campus, you may explore Graduate Assistantship (GA) positions.

To work off campus, those with F-1 visa students must be in the US for one academic year and follow the requirements and restrictions for using their allotted Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). These opportunities allow the student to gain valuable experience related to his/her major without the employer having to worry about H-1B visa sponsorship, BUT there are limitations to amount of time allowed to be worked and the type of work accepted. To use the CPT option, an undergraduate student must have been enrolled for at least one full school year and will need to find the position BEFORE meeting with the Office of International Services for approval. If the student is enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics program, they may also qualify for the STEM OPT Extension allowing them to work an additional 17 months past the 12 month OPT. Many students choose to use the OPT option after completing their degree program with hopes that it will lead to a full time job opportunity with an employer willing to sponsor the H-1B visa needed to stay in the US past the one year OPT. There is a fee charged to the student when they apply for OPT work authorization and approval must be given BEFORE the work begins.

J-1 students are allowed to work off campus while studying in the US ONLY if the position is required and related to their field of study using their incidental employment/academic training option. To use this option to work off campus, the student must find a position BEFORE meeting with the Office of International Services, provide a letter from their department head or supervisor stating the position would enhance their program.

Be sure to check with the Office of International Services to explore these options further. You may also attend the International Student Workshop Series for more information.