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Tee and Megan

Studying on an F-1, unpaid Internship is okay?

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Hi all!

 

I'm asking a question for a close friend of mine who is studying in the U.S. on an F-1 Visa.  She is hoping to begin an unpaid Internship next Fall, but is unsure if the F-1 visa allows for this?  Does anyone know? 

 

Apologies if this question has already been asked. I couldn't find the answer elsewhere on VJ.  

 

Thank you all! 

 

Megan

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On 9/5/2017 at 8:19 PM, CEE53147 said:

It depends. This is a question for the university's DSO in the international students office. She should already know these people who are there to assist international students on problems and being successful in their studies.

I agree. She cannot do anything without asking her international advisor.

 

I think she cannot do the internship even if it is unpaid because if this is a serious company, she will still have to go through HR for liability issues, and they could ask her to do an i-9. Basically, not getting paid does not mean she is not an employee. 

 

Moreover, for an F-1 you have to be a full-time student and there are restrictions to the amount of hours you can work. You can work in campus without any paperwork. But to work off-campus she would have to get CPT (which is like OPT but before graduation), but the time on CPT is taken from her OPT time. So basically, it is not a good idea to take time out of OPT. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It really depends on your univeristy and the exact type of internship/volunteer work. My university required us to talk to the international advisors before we accepted to do any kind of work, they are there to help you and they can tell you if an OPT will be necessary.

 

I did an unpaid internship during my F-1 but it was very unofficial, I wasn't considered an employee, I was merely shadowing people around to learn about what they were doing. There is no paper trail that indicates I was there at all. I also volunteered for marathons and some events, but I never went through any HR process for any of this.

 

If you get an internship in a large company, they process you like an employee and then you'd need an EAD regardless of pay.

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On 9/9/2017 at 0:33 AM, Coco8 said:

I agree. She cannot do anything without asking her international advisor.

 

I think she cannot do the internship even if it is unpaid because if this is a serious company, she will still have to go through HR for liability issues, and they could ask her to do an i-9. Basically, not getting paid does not mean she is not an employee. 

 

Moreover, for an F-1 you have to be a full-time student and there are restrictions to the amount of hours you can work. You can work in campus without any paperwork. But to work off-campus she would have to get CPT (which is like OPT but before graduation), but the time on CPT is taken from her OPT time. So basically, it is not a good idea to take time out of OPT. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPT is the way to go. However, CPT does not necessarily affect OPT. A friend of mine had similar opportunity and the response she got from the ISO is and I quote "Students who have completed 12 or more months of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT.  Part-time CPT or CPT which totals less than 12 months does not affect OPT." CPT is much simpler than OPT and do not require an EAD card (I interned at a national company and I-20 with CPT is all they need). However, her school might have concerns about working on an internship while being a full time student, but that really depends on the school. 

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