International students on F-1 visas are prohibited from working in the U.S. without permission. However, limited opportunities exist for on-the-job training during and after certificate programs.
- Most internships that occur during a certificate program are unpaid.
- Not all programs offer them; you will need to check with your program advisor.
- You do not have to complete 9 months in your program before taking an unpaid internship.
- If unpaid internships are available in your program, you must have the internship approved by your program advisor.
- You do not need International Student Office (ISO) approval for an unpaid internship.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT—paid internships)
- These paid internships occur during a certificate program.
- Not all programs offer them; check with your program advisor.
- These internships must be approved first by your program advisor.
- If your program advisor approves CPT, you also must report to the ISO for approval.
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT—paid employment)
- You must first complete a program of 9 months or longer.
- You must work with the ISO to apply for OPT and pay a fee.
- If your application for OPT is approved, you are eligible for one year of paid employment in the professional area that you have studied in your certificate program.
- Please note that if you have done OPT before, you are not eligible for another year of OPT
Tips for Finding Internships and Post-Completion Jobs
- Establish an excellent record with your advisor and instructors for good references and recommendations.
- Consult with the academic advisor for your program and find out where other students have found internships.
- Network with classmates. Some will be working professionals who may provide references, recommendations, and referrals.
- Check if your program offers internships or has a list of organizations that accept interns. Find out if you are eligible to apply.
- Seek out internships in other, unlisted organizations and check if you can obtain approval.
- For post-completion and off-campus jobs, network with program participants, instructors, and your program advisor.