Employment & Training Opportunities
As an F-1 international student you are prohibited from working off-campus. However opportunities do exist for on-the-job training both during your program and after completing it.
Internships and CPT
Internships are a part of most certificate programs and are designed to provide you with an opportunity to apply what you are learning in the classroom in a real-world setting.
To participate in an internship, you must be enrolled in a program that includes an internship course. Please check the list of certificate programs that qualify for F-1 status to see which programs include an internship.
The first step to having an internship is to check with your certificate program advisor to find out if you meet the department’s requirements. If so, the program advisor will assist you in getting the internship approved and create a course for you to enroll in. If you have been studying in the program for at least three quarters in F-1 status, you are eligible to be paid (Curricular Practical Training or CPT). If your internship is paid it is CPT and must be approved by your ISO advisor. Have the supervisor at the internship site complete this letter, adding in the information that is blank on the sample. When this letter is done, make an appointment with your ISO advisor to endorse your I-20 for the CPT. This must be done before starting a paid internship.
If you have not completed at least three quarters in F-1 status, you can only participate in an unpaid internship. In that case you will work solely with the certificate program advisor and enroll in the course. There is no need to report to your ISO advisor.
Internships must be done within the time frame of your certificate program. You cannot enroll in an internship, either paid or unpaid, after all your courses for the certificate program are completed. If you have completed the last course in your program you may be eligible to apply for OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary, one-year work authorization that is available to F-1 students who have successfully completed a certificate program. If approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). This enables you to work for up to one year in the U.S. in a job that is directly related to your field of study.
To be eligible to apply for OPT you need to:
- Complete a certificate program that qualifies for F-1 status
- Maintain valid F-1 status for a minimum of three quarters at the time of completing the program
If you have already done one year of OPT after completing a certificate program or degree at another school or if you have been approved for 12 months of full-time CPT, you are not eligible to apply for OPT after completing the certificate program at UCLA Extension.
Your employment must be directly related to your studies. You are required to report to your ISO advisor as soon as you receive a job offer. You will need to send the name of your employer and a description of your job that describes how the job is related to your studies.
You have 90 days during your year of OPT in which you can be unemployed. If you are not able to find employment within the 90 day time frame, you must take steps to maintain your status. You may either return to your home country, or you can apply to another certificate program or another school.