International Student Services

International Students Working

Working in the U.S.

The United States has very strict rules for international students who want to work  in the United States. Students in valid F-1 or J-1 status cannot be employed off-campus without meeting eligibility requirements and obtaining prior written authorization.  Immigration regulations severely limit the international student's eligibility to accept employment off-campus. Students found working illegally are failing to maintain their F-1 student and risk having their F-1 visa revoked. 

On Campus Jobs

International students enrolled full time and in valid F-1 or J-1 status may work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and up to 40 hours per week during vacation and holiday breaks.  The on-campus employer will contact Career Planning and Development to begin the process. You cannot apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) until you have a job offer and an employer cannot pay you until you provide them with your SSN.  In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens and eligible non-citizens. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for taxation purposes. A Social Security number is important because you need it to get a job on campus.  Only eligible students who have been offered employment authorized employment can apply for an SSN number.  This is federal law and is true in every state in the United States.

On campus jobs can be found and applied for by accessing Lion Jobs at http://www.una.edu/career/students.html.  On campus jobs are competitive and limited in number, so the Office of International Affairs recommends that you utilize the services of Career Planning and Development to help you prepare your application materials and to practice interviewing skills.    

 Off Campus Employment

Immigration regulations severely limit an international student's eligibility to accept employment off-campus. Students found working illegally are failing to maintain their F-1 student status and risk having their F-1 visa revoked. Off-campus employment is only allowed in the following circumstances:

Curricular Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that trains you in your field of study and for which you fulfill academic credit or part of your degree requirement.   CPT may be a paid or unpaid internship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or other experience that is related in your field of study.  Students interested in doing a CPT must make an appointment to see a Designated School Official (DSO) in the Office of International Affairs before beginning CPT.

Optional Practical Training:  Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work in your major area of study as authorized by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). A student must be enrolled for a full academic year to be eligible to apply for the OPT benefit. Students interested in doing OPT must discuss their plans with a DSO in the Office of International Affairs to find out if they are eligible  and to pick up the OPT application forms and instructions.

Severe Economic Hardship Employment This benefit is available to students who have completed at least one semester and have proven a severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status, and that on-campus employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient. This type of employment is extremely rare. Students must make an appointment to see a DSO in the Office of International Affairs to find out if they are eligible and to pick up the Economic Hardship application forms.

Any questions regarding employment should be directed to DSO at the Office of International Affairs.