On-Campus | Curricular Practical Training | Optional Practical Training | Economic Hardship | Work Visas | Social Security Numbers

International Students are limited in their ability to work in the United States. Entering the United States in an F-1 visa status means that your primary purpose in being here is to study. Therefore, any work permission which you may receive will be incidental to your participation in your academic program. Employment is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status.

It is crucial that you do not violate the terms of your student visa by working illegally. Department of Homeland Security regulations are very clear and strict in this area, and violating any of these regulations could lead to a loss of your visa or a possible visa denial in the future.

Listed below is a summary of 4 different ways you can work legally in the United States


F-1 international students are allowed to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the semester, and up to 40 hours per week during school breaks.

You do not need any special permission from the Department of Homeland Security to pursue on-campus jobs. However, international students may only be hired for non-workstudy positions. These positions are not funded by the US goverment and are therefore open to all students. You may not work in a position which is designated workstudy.




Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows international students to work off-campus as part of their studio work. Students offered performance or supervised teaching opportunities (NOT private studio teaching), may request permission from their studio instructor to pursue the work as a part of their studio instruction during the semseter or summer breaks.

For important details about this program, please see the Curricular Practical Training Application in the International Office and speak with your International Student Advisor.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows international students a total of 12 months to work in the United States to gain practical experience in their fields of study at the Conservatory. A job offer is not necessary for OPT approval and students may work for any number of employers at the same time as long as they are all in the field of music, and the total number of hours does not exceed the authorized limit.

Students may apply for part-time OPT during the semester after they have been in status for at least 9 months (or one academic year). Part-time OPT is considered 20 hours per week or less. Students who have not completed their program may only be authorized for part-time OPT. Part-time OPT deducts from the 12 month alloted time at a one-half rate. For instances, a student approved for 6 months of part-time OPT would have only 3 months deducted, leaving that student with 9 months remaining.

Students may apply for full-time OPT during school breaks and after graduation. Most students choose to save their 12 months of OPT for after graduation so that they can extend their stay in the US for an additional year. Please note that there are special considerations to keep in mind when applying for a visa renewal on OPT. Please contact us to discuss your specific case.

Optional Practical Training is recommended by your International Student Advisor, but can only be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security. Applications are processed at the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service Center, and can take from 8-11 weeks for approval. Please plan accordingly, as you may NOT work until you have received approval.

Students may apply for an additional 12-month period of OPT if they complete a second degree in the US which is an advance from the first degree (i.e., 12 months of OPT for a Bachelor's degree, and then 12 months of OPT for a Master's degree).

For more important information about this program, please see the Optional Practical Training Application. To apply, you must also download the I-765 instructions and the I-765 form. 

Economic Hardship

Very rarely, the US government will authorize off-campus employment in the event of unforeseen changes in your financial situation due to circumstances outside of your control. Generally, these applications are only approved in such instances as currency devaluations, political unrest in your home country or a drastic and unforeseen change in your family's employment. Please contact us for more information about this application.

Social Security Numbers

The social security number is a governmnet-issued identification number. This number is NOT a work permit. In fact, you are not eligible to apply for a social security number unless you have an offer of employment.

Most employers (including NEC) will not pay you without recording your social security number. If you have a job offer, you should pick up the Social Security Application Packet at the International Student Office, and bring the completed form along with a signed employment offer and a letter of recommendation IN PERSON to the nearest social security office.

Work Visas

Students interested in working in the United States after graduation may be elibible for a work visa. Generally, these visas require an employer sponsor and the asssistance of an immigration attorney. Each spring the International Student Office invites a immigration attorney specializing in artists and musicians to provided an Information Session on work visas and green cards. Check the Deadlines link at the beginning of the spring semester for more information about this session.