As a way to more fully understand your new learning environment, you may want to consider getting a job during your stay.

Employment is a benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to eligible F-1 visa students who have been in good academic standing and have not violated any F-1 status rules and regulations. You should always consult an International Student Advisor first to check your eligibility before searching for a job.

Working On-Campus

Getting an on-campus job is an excellent way to get to know PCC! You may accept on-campus employment at PCC without prior approval from USCIS. However, you need approval from the International Student Center. To get approval for on-campus employment, you need to:

  • Be currently enrolled in 12 or more units at PCC and maintain 12 units throughout the entire semester

You can work on-campus with a maximum 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring Semesters. During Winter and Summer sessions, you may work up to 40 hours per week.

Some on-campus sites where international students have worked in the past include the Learning Assistance Center, Campus Bookstore, Pathways Center, International Student Center, Science Village, iJam, and Shatford Library.

Off-Campus Employment

There are a few different type of work opportunities you can engage in as an international student:

Practical Training

Practical training is defined as work experience in the student’s major field of study that can be conducted off-campus. Two types of practical training are available to international students:

  1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) available before completing their studies. CPT must be a class requirement.
  2. Optional Practical Training (OPT) available before or after completing their studies. For example: vacation and post-completion optional practical training.

Students interested in doing practical training should attend one of the practical training workshops offered by International Student Programs as early as possible followed by preparing the paperwork with the international student advisor. Prior authorization from the ISC and USCIS is required before engaging in employment.

Economic Hardship

You must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year. You also must prove to USCIS that employment is needed due to SEVERE Economic Hardship caused by circumstances beyond student’s control. Must apply to USCIS for approval and show proof of hardship.


Many international students are interested in volunteering their time during their stay in the United States for a variety of reasons, like serving others or strengthening their transfer applications. You may wish to participate in a campus club service event, help out at a food bank, or volunteer in a company in your field, perhaps to “shadow” or observe to gain real-world experience. While the issue of volunteering may seem clear-cut (“I’m not getting paid, therefore I am not working”), it is actually complex and involves immigration regulations and labor law. Some of these activities are legally acceptable, and some are not. Generally any type of volunteer work that is related to a campus club activity is approved. Volunteering off-campus might not be approved. To avoid problems with your visa, please check with the International Student Center before engaging in volunteer activities that are not connected with a student club or a charitable organization.