This is for a job application with a US private company.

There are only two choices (on a drop-down menu): 'Yes' or 'No'.

Background: I am on a F-1 student visa here, hoping to graduate soon. I fully expect to get OPT, I am intending to apply for OPT, but haven't done so yet.

So should I state 'Yes' or 'No'? Bearing in mind of course that if I select 'No', it is possible that I will be immediately tossed into the reject pile, even if I elaborate elsewhere my exact circumstances.

  • 2
    Is this on a government form or for a company? If the latter, I would feel comfortable saying yes and explaining the details later on. – RoboKaren Mar 8 '15 at 19:51
  • @RoboKaren: Great point, I've added the answer to your question as my first sentence. – Kenny LJ Mar 8 '15 at 20:02

If you are F1, you are not authorized to work in the United States.

Lying on an employment form is not a good way to initiate your entry into the United States.


You need to mark "no". You aren't eligible to work. Lying is not the way to begin your professional career.

The only work allowed on an F1 is on-campus employment*, which means working for the school, for a business contracted by the school (e.g. bookstore), or something educationally related to the school (e.g. research, work-study). Also, there are limits to the amount of work you can perform (20 hours per week maximum while school is in session, 40 hours during breaks), so check the proposed schedule. Does the job you're applying for meet these requirements? If so, you can mark yes. If you aren't 100% positive (and even if you are, it never hurts to double check), your school should have an office that can answer these questions for you. Go ask them.

If you mark yes on the application and you aren't authorized to work, the most likely outcome is that you're immediately rejected from the application process as soon as the company figures out that you don't really have the right to work in the US. The company is asking this question for a reason. You should be happy they're being up front about it, because you can realize that it's a deal breaker and not waste your time. "Oh, you aren't authorized to work here! So sorry, good luck, there's the door." - is this something you want to wait to hear after spending a few weeks interviewing and negotiating?

Most applications involve a statement affirming that everything you've said is true and correct, and the company reserves the right to reject or fire you if it turns out you lied. Lying about having the right to work is a huge deal, regardless of the reasons for doing so. Quite possibly word will get around about this (especially if you're going through recruiters), damaging your chances for employment once you are legally allowed to work.

Worst case scenario, you start working there and someone finds out your employment is illegal. They report you to the immigration authorities who come knocking on your door. Your visa gets revoked and you are summarily deported. This is not a position you want to be in. It's not worth the risk.

I fully expect to get OPT, I am intending to apply for OPT, but haven't done so yet.

Apply for it first. After being approved, you can mark yes for qualifying jobs. "Intending to apply" and "submitted an application" are far cries from "having authorization". Any company who decides to proceed with you under the assumption your application will get approved "later" will be very unhappy if it turns out you didn't get it after all, because they wasted a bunch of time and money on the hiring process. Even if you subsequently get authorization, such a company would very likely not want to consider you again after being burned.

*In cases of extreme financial hardship, you can get approved for off-campus employment, but you must apply for and be granted special written dispensation. I'm assuming this does not apply here.

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    Get that application in. "Applied for OPT" is better than "Intending to apply for OPT". – DJClayworth Mar 9 '15 at 15:49

This depends a bit on what you are applying for. For a temp gig, "Yes" is fine. If you are looking for permanent long term employment, the honest answer would probably be "No". Getting an OPT may hold you over for a bit but at some point you will need an H1B or equivalent which you expect your employer to sponsor and pay for.

However, your best tactic might be to click "yes" and put the details somewhere in the comments section or the cover letter. At least that may get you through the first automatic culling.

  • 4
    I disagree. The visa the OP is on does not allow one to work full time. The answer is no. That does not mean the answer can't be made to be yes, with the right paperwork, but lying on an application is a way to never work for that company. – CGCampbell Mar 9 '15 at 2:04
  • 1
    Yes is not fine for "a temp gig". The length of employment term has no bearing on whether or not someone on an F1 is eligible to work. – Esoteric Screen Name Mar 9 '15 at 3:23

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