Students must NOT pursue any off-campus employment without proper authorization. Authorization must be received BEFORE beginning any off-campus work, internship, or related employment activity. Pursuing off-campus employment activity without proper authorization could jeopardize the ability to complete your MIT academic program and any future US visas.
Students who have been in F-1 visa status for 9 consecutive months may apply for employment related to their field of study through “practical training.” There are two kinds of Practical Training:
In addition, students who are currently on post-completion Optional Practical Training may be eligible for a STEM OPT Extension.
The average processing time for Curricular Practical Training is 2 weeks. The average processing time for Optional Practical Training is 3 to 4 months.
Off-Campus Employment (CPT, OPT, STEM OPT) Must be Directly Related to MIT Degree Field of Study
F-1 visa regulations require all authorized off-campus employment be "directly related to the student's major area of study", in addition to other criteria. The U.S Department of Homeland Security reviews employment by international students with great scrutiny, and therefore all activity must be directly related to the student's major field of study for the degree earned at MIT.
USDHS, on September 30, 2019, issued Policy Guidance re-affirming this requirement and their additional focus on this issue, including a new requirement that ISO Advisors review employment under CPT/OPT/STEM OPT Extension to confirm it meets these requirements. The ISO had seen additional scrutiny even before this Policy Guidance -- with student visa applications at US Embassies/Consulates, as well as applications for employment authorizations and Change of Status (including H-1B and Green Card) with USCIS, be delayed with questions about direct relationship to degree. Students must take great care to be sure the position being pursued under CPT, OPT, or STEM OPT requires their specific degree program and is an application of that degree (not just general concepts or one course taken during a degree program). The ISO addresses this requirement further in our Employment webpages and in our Employment Information Sessions. Please feel free to contact your ISO Advisor if you have questions about an internship/training/employment being directly related to your degree field of study.
OPT and STEM OPT Reporting Requirements
Students who are on an active and approved period of post-completion OPT and STEM OPT must fulfill reporting requirements.