Students and exchange visitors may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to work in the United States. They must obtain permission from an authorized official at their school. The authorized official is known as a Designed School Official (DSO) for students and the Responsible Officer (RO) for exchange visitors. After an in depth interview with your immigration attorney they can guide you thru the details of each specific visa category and point out the ones that would best suit your needs.


The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.

F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs available for F-1 students to seek off-campus employment, after the first academic year.

Off-Campus employment includes:

  • Off-Campus Employment Under Severe Economic Hardship
  • Practical Training
  • Curricular Practical Training
  • Optimal Practical Training, Pre and Post Completion
  • Internship With an International Organization
  • Special Arrangements For Groups In Emergent Circumstances


The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.

M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.


The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States (U.S.) and the people of other countries by educational and cultural exchanges, under the provisions of U.S. law.  Exchange visitors are foreign nationals who come to the United States to take part in Department of State-designated programs, such as:

  • Trainees
  • Professors or Scholars
  • Students
  • Specialists
  • International Visitors
  • Teachers
  • Research Assistants
  • Physicians
  • Summer Work Travel Programs
  • Au Pair Programs
  • Camp Counselors

Exchange visitors may work legally in the United States if the work is part of the participants’ approved program (e.g., J-1 teachers, professors, summer camp counselors, summer work travel, au pairs) or when the official program sponsor approves their employment (e.g., J-1 students).