Employment Options

Employment options on and off campus

As an international student at CGCC, you have two types of employment options — on-campus and off-campus. The following information outlines what you need to know about pursuing these work opportunities.

Permission to work on campus

You must maintain your F-1 status to gain employment on campus, but you don’t need USCIS authorization. You do need it, however, to work off campus (see the Optional Practical Training section below). These are the requirements for working on campus:

  • Have a current and valid SEVIS I-20 issued by Chandler-Gilbert Community College
  • Limit work to 20 hours or less per week during the semester, and up to full time hours during semester breaks or summer vacation
  • Be a registered full-time student, or been approved for Reduced Course Load
  • Have a Social Security number (see below)
  • Apply for "TAX BUDGET" jobs ONLY - DO NOT apply for "federal work-study"

CGCC's Career Center & Job Placement office has most employment opportunities advertised online. Just search for jobs on campus, and apply for positions by completing an application and interviewing with the department. If you have concerns regarding your interviewing skills, please make an appointment with an advisor in the Career Center for assistance at 480-732-5211.

Applying for a Social Security number

To begin working on campus, you need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). You should be enrolled as a full-time student with tuition paid to begin the process, and have the following documentation:

  1. A valid F-1 student visa
  2. Current passport
  3. An official letter of employment offer
  4. A completed SSN application
  5. An official letter of enrollment verification

The CGCC department manager who wants to hire you must address the employment offer letter to CGCC’s International Education Program (IEP) office, confirming the offer, job title and dates of employment. Bring the offer letter to the IEP office, where you can pick up the SSN application. The IEP office will also provide you with the letter verifying full time enrollment at CGCC. Please contact IEP with any questions about obtaining a Social Security number.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) — Off-campus work permission

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students the opportunity to work off campus, applying knowledge they gain in the classroom to practical work experience in the area they are studying. Authorization for OPT is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) — formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS. Obtaining authorization can take from 90 to 120 days, so it’s important that you apply at the earliest possible date. The maximum amount of time granted to work in F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level.

Who can apply for OPT?

All F-1 students are eligible for OPT if they have maintained lawful status. You must apply for OPT before completing your course of study — we strongly encourage at least 90 days before program completion — and/or before your SEVIS I-20 expires. We suggest you do not change residences until you receive your OPT authorization. Federal mail is not forwarded to new addresses — it is returned to the government — so if your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (which is your work permit) is returned, most likely you will not be able to retrieve it and you will lose the opportunity for OPT. Please note that you CANNOT travel outside the U.S. until you have been approved for employment authorization by USCIS. A new rule also maintains that all OPT must be completed within 14 months following completion of a program of study. For example, if you graduate May 13-16, the last day you can indicate on your application for OPT is July 15th if you want 12 months of employment. You can request to begin sooner (right after graduation) if you apply 90 days or more before your last semester.

Dates of OPT authorization

The EAD card is approved for a specific beginning and end date. You must identify those dates on the OPT application form. For OPT after completion of studies or graduation, the beginning date can be no later than 60 days after the date you complete your studies. If you have questions about your OPT dates, please discuss them with your international student advisor.

OPT eligibility requirements

Your OPT employment must relate directly to your major area of study, and be equivalent with your educational level. You may change jobs during the 12-months maximum time granted to work OPT, and you are not limited to the state of Arizona — you can work anywhere in the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). Additional OPT requirements include:

  1. Valid F-1 status
  2. Be in good academic standing
  3. Do not begin working until your authorization has been issued

Employment regulations for F-2 Dependents

USCIS does not permit individuals with F-2 status to be employed under any conditions. Employment is defined as the rendering of services, part- or full-time, for financial or other compensation, including self-employment.