As a foreign student living in the U.S., you are probably wondering if you are able to work during the course of your studies—the answer differs depending on your visa classification. Both F-1 and M-1 students must meet the following criteria for the length of their studies in order to pursue employment:
- Maintain full-time enrollment in an academic educational program, vocational program, or language-training program at an institution that has been approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program of Immigration & Customs Enforcement
- Speak fluent English (or be enrolled in courses that will lead to English proficiency)
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself during the entire length of your study course
- Maintain a residence abroad which is properly kept for your return and which you have no intention of abandoning
After you have met these criteria, your employment will depend on which visa you have. Students working with an F-1 visa may only accept on-campus employment during their first academic year. These students may work off-campus after the first academic year as long as the employment falls directly into their field of study.
Unlike F-1 students, M-1 students may only accept practical training positions, and only after they have completed the entire course of their studies. Regardless which visa a student has, all off-campus employment must be authorized by the Designated SEVIS School Official and USCIS before the student is able to begin work.