Work Opportunity In USA

Sixty percent of U.S. students work to help finance their studies at the college. International students are employed in the bookstore, the library, physical plant, the cafeteria, media services, and in many other offices and departments throughout the campus. Others work as resident assistants, math tutors, foreign language tutors, and student government officers. (See Job Opportunities).

On-Campus Employment

International students who are on F-1 visas and who are enrolled full-time may work legally on campus after obtaining approval from International Students and Scholars (ISS). In order to be paid for their work, students must have a Social Security Number (SSN). The ISS office can help with the SSN application process. The process takes approximately twenty minutes and requires students to complete several government forms. Students should bring their passports, I-94 and I-20 forms to ISS. Students may interview for positions before completing the forms in the packet, but should complete the forms and turn them in before beginning employment.

According to DHS regulations, international students may work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods (Christmas, spring break, and summer). New students may work on campus up to 30 days before classes begin in the fall. However, on-campus employment is not permitted after graduation.

The U.S. government requires international students to pay taxes on their earnings, in accordance with U.S. tax laws.

Off-Campus Employment

International students on F-1 visas may not work off campus unless they receive permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When circumstances warrant, DHS will grant that permission based on severe and unforeseen economic hardship.

To qualify for work permission due to economic necessity, students must have been in the U.S. on an F-1 visa for one academic year (nine months), be enrolled full time, and be in good academic standing. In addition, students must prove to DHS that their financial circumstances have changed unexpectedly and that they no longer have sufficient funds to remain in school. They must also prove that work will not interfere with their studies.

In the past, DHS has approved off-campus work permission for students who had a parent die, who lost a scholarship or funding source, and who had a sponsor become seriously ill and unable to work. In such cases the students were able to provide proof of the unforeseen change.


International students cannot engage in internships without approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ISS. Many international students do not realize this fact and they take internship or “volunteer” positions at companies or agencies. They mistakenly believe that because they are working without pay, they can participate in internships. This is not the case.

Employment with an International Organization

The final category of employment for international students in the U.S. on F-1 visas is employment with a “recognized international organization.” To qualify, an organization must be on the official State Department list, and listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations. Because it does not have the universal application of OPT or CPT, this category of employment is often overlooked. Only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations are eligible. However, for those lucky students who do have such sponsorship, there are clear benefits of this employment category.

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