F-1 student visas are primarily study visas, rather than work visas. There are four legal types of employment for students on F-1 visas. which are all highly regulated. Legal employment types include,
1) On-campus employment
2) Curricular Practical Training
3) Optional Practical Training
4) Severe Economic Hardship
Students should consult a DSO to determine eligibility for legal employment as an F-1 visa holder.
As an F-1 student, it is important to not work illegally. Working illegally
- cannot be rectified (no reinstatement of status allowed),
- could ruin future plans, and
- DSO’s are obligated to report this and have no discretion in this reporting obligation.
Work is defined as anything that is compensated with
- food or living essentials,
- reduction in fees, and/or
- knowledge (in some experiential learning situations).
- Wages need not be received in order for an activity to be considered work