Working in the USA

Working in the USA

While studying at Siena College, you may wish to pursue employment or internship opportunities. Learn more about what it takes to work in the United States here.

On-Campus Employment

Make some extra money.

Remember, you should always speak with your DSO (the Assistant Director for International Student Services) before pursuing any kind of employment.

Your F-1 student status permits you to work on-campus. You must maintain F-1 status to be eligible for this employment benefit; maintaining status means that you are a full-time registered student (except for approved exceptions) in good academic standing with a valid I-20. When school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per week.

If you are interested in finding an on-campus job, you should meet with the Career Center to set up an account on CareerSaint. This database advertises both on-campus and off-campus jobs. Filter your search to only look for on-campus payroll jobs. On-campus jobs are also advertised on flyers posted around campus—in the SSU, office bulletin boards, etc.  You may also talk to the Center for International Programs for suggestions about on-campus employment.  Be sure to start searching early in the semester while jobs are still open.

Once you secure a job, you must meet with your DSO for approval and to learn about the next step: getting a Social Security number.

How do I get a Social Security number/card?

Make an appointment with your DSO to discuss the Social Security application process. You can make an appointment by contacting

In order to have a more productive meeting, please be sure you carefully read our Social Security Application Checklist, and that you come prepared. Your DSO will be happy to answer any questions or help you complete any paperwork.

Early on during the fall and spring semesters, the Center for International Programs offers transportation to the Social Security Office in Albany. Please monitor your email for announcements, or ask your DSO when transportation might be provided.

After you apply for your Social Security number, you must contact the Payroll Department to complete the necessary paperwork. You may begin work while your Social Security Application is being processed.

Off-Campus Employment

Can I work off-campus?

Yes and no.

F-1 students are not eligible to pursue off-campus employment until they have completed one year of study at Siena College. After one year, you may choose to pursue Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). See below for more details.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What's the deal with CPT?

CPT is a temporary authorization for off-campus employment directly related to your field of study. Your field of study is the major listed on your I-20. CPT can only be authorized by your DSO and you will need a new Form I-20 indicating a recommendation for employment. Your CPT employment must be for college credit. If you are thinking about an off-campus internship, you should meet with your DSO the semester before you intend to work.

CPT may be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) and paid or un-paid. If you accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT authorization, you lose your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT), another type of employment authorization for F-1 students. Part-time CPT and fewer than 12 months of full-time CPT authorization does not affect your OPT eligibility.

To request CPT authorization, you must make an appointment with your DSO by emailing, and complete our CPT Request Form.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)


OPT is the opportunity for work experience in one’s field of study. The Center for International Programs recommends a student for OPT, but USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) gives the authorization. An F-1 student is eligible for up to 12 months total, either before or after graduation. Most international students apply for post-completion OPT early on in their final semester at Siena. This allows plenty of time to job search (you do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT), and then to begin working as soon as possible after graduation.

For full information on the OPT application process, and to schedule an appointment, please contact your DSO at Please read our OPT Overview and Application Process before your meeting.

17-month STEM Extension

Students who graduate with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) degree may be eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension. For full information on this special program, please click here.

H1-B Status

Everybody wants it. EVERYBODY.

The H-1B visa is temporary employment authorization for a nonimmigrant who performs services in a specialty occupation. An employer may petition for an H-1B visa on your behalf if the employer, position, and employee meet the criteria for H-1B status.

H-1B visas are VERY difficult to obtain and require employers to make a significant financial investment in you. Although a bachelor's degree is considered the minimum qualification, many individuals with advanced degrees are also seeking these visas. Please review all information here

If you'd like to learn more, the Center for International Programs or the Career Center may be able to provide you with additional resources.