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Work Permits in the US

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If I'm not mistaken, the work authorization process for international students in the U.S share a lot of similarities with Canada.  And I'm assuming you'll be on a F1 student visa if you are doing a PhD in the U.S.  If so, it's pretty simple to set up with the international office at your school.  You basically provide them with an offer letter from your employer and possibly (if they require it) a letter from your specific department stating that it the internship is related to your studies.  They will then give you authorization to work off campus typically through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) on a part-time basis (usually 20 hours max) during semesters and full-time during semester breaks (summer/winter).  The approval process should take no more than a couple of days depending on how quick your international office is in processing requests. 


Alternatively, you could use Optional Practical Training (OPT) to work off campus instead of CPT but as was stated it is best to use this judiciously since OPT is basically a post graduate work permit lasting for only 1 year and its use during semesters will count against its cap.  Conversely, CPT has no such limit and can be used during each semester as long as you are enrolled in your program.   Nevertheless, bear in mind that when starting a new program on a F1 visa, you are typically restricted to working on campus during the 1st two semesters and only thereafter are eligible to work off campus.  However I've heard of different schools using different requirements in this case and some may allow you to simply work off campus immediately or may require some additional approval from your department stating that the internship is an academic requirement of the program.  It's best to clarify this information with the international office ahead of time so as to avoid any surprises.




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