International Student Services

Division of Student Life


On-Campus Employment

Students on F-1 visas are allowed to work on the Reed campus without obtaining any authorization.

Students on J-1 visas should contact in advance of starting work on or off campus. J-1 visa holders will require authorization by the ISS office prior to starting any work on or off campus. 

In order to not interfere with your academic work, visa regulations limit international student work to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session (summer and winter break).

Attention: Money, goods, or compensation (including housing or board) received for off-campus employment outside of curricular practical training (CPT) or optional practical training (OPT) at any time during an F-1 student's stay in the U.S. constitutes a serious immigration violation and might put you out of status.

Looking for an on-campus job? Check out on-campus job postings through Handshake, Reed's online platform for jobs, internships, and more.

Review the process for hiring international students on campus on the Business Office website for more information for campus employers and students. This link provides an overview of the steps for completing paperwork with payroll and obtaining a Social Security Number once students have been hired in on-campus jobs. 

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization available to F-1 international students participating in off-campus, paid (or unpaid) applied learning; such as internships, research, or projects related to their field of study. International students must have work authorization for any paid off-campus work. At Reed as of Fall 2022, international students may access CPT authorization through participation in the Experiential Learning (EXEL) program. For currently enrolled Reed students, there is no cost to enroll in the EXEL program, and there is no cost for students to request CPT authorization through ISS.

Please visit the EXEL program page to learn more about the program. Students interested in learning more about CPT can email 

Special thanks to our campus partners and student advocates who brought the EXEL program proposal to faculty in spring 2022!

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization benefit for F-1 visa holders. OPT allows students to work in fields directly related the student’s major area of study. It is intended to provide a student (or recent graduate) with practical experience in their field of study during or upon completion of a degree program.

Students seeking to work off-campus can choose to utilize their OPT work authorization “pre-completion” (before graduation, typically during a summer break) or “post-completion” (find information for graduating students here). Most students have 12 months of work authorization through OPT; those with majors in the STEM fields are eligible for a 24-month extension.

Requirements for pre-completion OPT:

  1. The work needs to be directly related to your area of study.
  2. You do not need to have a job prior to applying for OPT.
  3. Students must have been maintaining F-1 visa status for 9 consecutive months in order to be eligibile to use pre-completion OPT. 

If you decide to pursue pre-completion OPT, you should contact ISS to begin the application process about 4 months in advance. Your application may be submitted 90 days in advance of your work authorization start date. The application fee is $470 (as of April 1, 2024) and you must apply each time you wish to use your OPT. The amount of pre-completion OPT time you use is deducted from your post-completion OPT.

If you are interested in learning more about about the OPT process, review What You Should Know About OPT and make an appointment to meet with ISS. 

Summer Experience Award

Reed's Summer Experience Award provides funding for meaningful summer experiences for international students. The award was created to give international students on F-1 visas or with other citizenship-related work restrictions the opportunity to complement their academic studies with an unpaid summer internship or research experience focused on an area of interest and possible future employment. 

SEA application process 

In order to improve and streamline the application process, funding for the Summer Experience Award (SEA) is distributed to the Summer Internship Award and the Summer Opportunity Fellowship. At least two awards for each fellowship will be designated for international students. It is not necessary to apply separately to the Summer Experience Award as well as the Summer Internship Award and/or the Summer Opportunity Fellowship. International students should apply to the Summer Internship Award or the Summer Opportunity Fellowship for consideration for SEA funding.

Off-Campus Internships

Off-campus internships that are completely voluntary and unpaid are not considered “employment” and do not require USCIS authorization. In order for your internship to be considered “voluntary,” it must be unpaid and it must be work that would not otherwise be a paid position if taken by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Please be aware that some internship sites, colleges and universities in particular, may require work authorization through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). The ISS office can assist you with the process of applying for CPT or pre- completion OPT if it will be required, but be advised that if using OPT it is necessary to apply 90 days in advance of your anticipated start date. To read more about the OPT process, please review “What You Should Know about OPT.” Additionally, we strongly recommend that applicants have conversations with potential employers early regarding any possible required work authorization, even if the opportunity is unpaid. Please consult with the ISS office if you have any questions or concerns.