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International Student Employment

International students in Pella

International students can work on-campus, up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. Some on-campus jobs require federal work study, for which international students are not eligible, but there are on-campus jobs that are available to all students. International students who will be returning to MCC for a second year can apply for resident assistant, student ambassador, or tutor positions.

Some on-campus jobs are available over the summer and during the summer. International students can work up to 40 hours per week. International students can also work up to 40 hours per week over breaks, ie. spring and semester breaks.

A Social Security number will be issued if you have obtained an on-campus job. Your supervisor must report to the Office of International Student Services that he or she is holding a job for you. Then you will be given a letter that will allow you to apply for a social security card. You will need to take the letter, your passport, I-20, a copy of your I-94, and the Social Security application (available in International Students and Programs office) to apply in person.

When you have the appropriate documents, take them to:

Social Security Office (Marshalltown)
2502 S. 2ndSt.
Marshalltown, IA  50158

Office hours MTRF 9 am–4 pm, W 9 am-12 pm

You may not begin working until you get the Social Security card.


International students are not allowed to work off campus unless they are doing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – CPT must either be required by a major or must provide a student with internship credit. CPT must be approved by Vickie Unferth, and your subject area must have an internship option.  You will also need to work with a faculty adviser to do an internship.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) – OPT is work experience in the student’s field of study, usually performed off campus. Standard OPT is up to twelve (12) months full time. For a student whose area of study is in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) an additional twenty-four (24) months is possible.  The STEM Degree List is available at
    • OPT can be “pre-completion” OPT or “post-completion”. Pre-completion OPT reduces the amount of time available for post-completion OPT. Full-time pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the twelve (12) months standard. Part-time OPT (less than 20 hours per week) is deducted at one half the rate of full-time OPT. For example, two (2) months of part-time OPT equals one (1) month of full-time OPT.
    • A student may apply for post-completion OPT up to ninety (90) days before degree completion or sixty (60) days after degree completion. More information is available at this website.  The current filing fee for OPT is $410.  You will need to meet with the coordinator of international students and programs for help with the required documents, which will be mailed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Typically, it takes three to four months after the application is received for USCIS approval of an OPT request.  It can be denied.   The student applying for OPT is not allowed to work until he or she receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which will list a start date.
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