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Advise and Hire Students

 As you work with degree-seeking international students in your department, you’re almost certain to encounter new processes and terms, from CPT eligibility to I-20 extensions. Our website provides advice for students. The sections Maintaining Your Status and Employment and Taxes, in particular, will answer many questions.

Note that enrolled international students are eligible to work on campus and for Cornell without special work authorization.

Here are some frequently asked questions about student status and work. 

Are J-1 students and their families required to have health insurance?

Yes. All Cornell students are automatically charged for insurance on their bursar's bill. The annual cost is not included in tuition, assistantships, or fellowships.

If students are interested in family insurance, advise them to contact Student Health Benefits as soon as possible. Family members must enroll within 30 days of arrival in the United States, or they will not be eligible to enroll.

What does it mean to sign an I-20 extension?

An I-20 is a reflection of the student’s F-1 visa status. It records the program information, including the student’s degree level and start and end dates (graduation date).

The program end date can be changed if the student submits a completed I-20 extension application. When students need another semester to graduate, they must extend the I-20 before the end-date. Failing to do so is a violation of immigration status and cannot be fixed easily.

The I-20 extension form has a required section for academic advisor. Please do not leave any portion of this section blank, including the line “when will this student actually complete his/her studies?” This line should be completed with the month, day, and year of the last semester that the student will be a registered student at Cornell.

It’s okay to email us a PDF of your completed section, but we must receive the extension form electronically or on paper. We can’t accept an email instead of the completed form.

Is there a limit to the number of hours F-1 and J-1 students can work?

Yes. They are limited to 20 hours per week. Working more than 20 hours in a week—even one time—is a violation that can have serious repercussions to the student's status.

The same 20-hour limit applies over winter and summer breaks, if the student is registered. If the student is NOT registered over a break and will be registered in the next full semester, he or she can work more than 20 hours with no repercussions.

Please ask the Office of Global Learning about borderline situations.

My student brought me a CPT application. What is it and what does it do?

F-1 and J-1 students are automatically eligible to work for Cornell in an on-campus job for up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and the student is registered. Off-campus work is treated differently by the U.S. government.

To work off campus, an eligible student must apply for and be approved for off-campus work authorization before starting a job. Before graduation, the most common off-campus work authorization is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

If a student hands you a CPT application for your signature, she will need help deciding how she’s eligible.

Your signature certifies that the work is a graduation requirement, which the student must fulfill promptly. Please don’t leave anything on the application blank before you sign it.

What makes a student’s work eligible for CPT?

Here are some questions to ask the student.

  • Is the work required for a program (e.g., Hotel School students are required to intern for 500 hours before graduation)?
  • Is the work required for a particular course (e.g., independent study courses or “American Job Experience” courses)?
  • Is the work required for an established co-op program (e.g., the engineering co-op program)? A co-op must be an understood part of the curriculum for all students, international or domestic.
  • Is the work required for a graduate student who needs practical experience to write a chapter in her thesis or dissertation?

I want to invite an international student to intern at the university. What should I do?

Cornell University policy requires that all sponsored international visitors are either students or faculty/staff. When Cornell faculty and research staff wish to bring an international visitor who is a student in their home country and who does not clearly fit into a Cornell student or Cornell faculty/staff classification, the Office of Global Learning is happy to discuss the case and offer a preliminary recommendation to either:

  • Work with the department or unit human resources contact, if a staff appointment seems most appropriate.
  • Work with a graduate field assistant and/or the appropriate admissions office, if non-degree student status seems most appropriate.