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Basic Guidelines

What qualifies as on-campus employment for an F-1 student?

The definition for on-campus employment is in 8 CFR 214.2(9)(i).

There are two types of limits on the employment:

  • Type and location
    • The work must take place either at your school or at an educationally affiliated (associated with the school’s established curriculum or part of contractually funded research projects at the postgraduate level) off-campus location. Work that takes place at your school location could be for an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students.
    • Employment located on-campus that does not directly involve services to students (such as construction work) does not qualify as on-campus employment.
    • Work with an employer that is contractually affiliated with the school is on-campus employment even if the work site is not located on the campus (such as a research lab affiliated with your school).
  • Jobs that do not displace a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR)

What are the basic guidelines for on-campus employment?

An F-1 student has three main employment-related guidelines:

  • May work at any qualifying on-campus job that does not displace a U.S. citizen or LPR.
  • May work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session ( full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the annual break)
  • Should report their work to you and receive a certification letter to present to the Social Security Administration in order to be able to receive a Social Security number.

Not complying with these guidelines for on-campus employment may be a violation of status that could result in the F-1 student having to leave the United States.

When is on-campus employment permissible?

The questions above on What qualifies as on-campus employment? and What are the basic guidelines for on-campus employment? define the parameters for on-campus employment.

As the DSO, you have certain responsibilities:

  • Counsel the student concerning the following:
    • Number of hours the F-1 student may work
    • Type of employment
    • N eed to maintain F-1 status
    • Tax and Social Security implications
    • Reporting changes in employment and hours worked
  • Have a letter from each employer concerning the nature of the job and the work hours
  • Give the F-1 student a letter for Social Security purposes certifying that the job qualifies as on-campus employment and that the student is in F-1 status
  • Keep records on the F-1 student’s employment in the school files
  • Terminate the F-1 student’s SEVIS record if you know the student is engage d in any unauthorized employment or works hours in excess of those allowed by regulation

When does an F-1 student become eligible for on-campus employment?

An F-1 student may begin working as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. They should have permission from you before they begin work.

If an F-1 student finishes a program (such as a bachelor’s degree) and starts another program of study at the same campus, the student may continue on-campus employment as long as the student plans to enroll in the new program of study for the next term.

Where can on-campus jobs be located?

The job must be physically located on the school’s campus or off-campus at the site of an educationally affiliated organization.

What qualifies as providing services for students under on-campus employment?

Employment on-campus has to be for the school or for a company that contracts with the school to serve students directly.

For example, if your school contracts with a food service company, an F-1 student can work for the company at school facilities but not for the same company at any off-campus locations.

  • An F-1 student cannot work for a company contracting with the school for something other than student services
  • An F-1 student cannot work for a company that does not contract with the school, even if the work location is physically located on school property.

For example, an F-1 student cannot work for a construction company, even if the job site is on the campus.

However, an F-1 student may work for a contractually affiliated company such as a school bookstore, because it provides services to students.

What does educationally affiliated mean?

In the case of off-campus locations, educational affiliation means the location meets one of two important criteria:

  • Associated with the school's established curriculum
  • Related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level

May an F-1 student work on-campus after enrolling in a new program of study?

Yes. If an F-1 student finishes one program of study at one educational level (such as a bachelor’s degree) and starts another program of study at the same campus, the student may continue on-campus employment as long as the student plans to enroll for the next term.

If otherwise eligible, may an F-1 student continue to work on-campus with a pending application for reinstatement or change of status?

In most cases, yes.

For how long may an F-1 student continue to work on campus?

An F-1 student who is enrolled in school, maintains status and follows the guidelines for on-campus employment may continue to work. The F-1 student should keep you informed of any changes in employer and hours, however.

An F-1 student may only work on-campus after the program end date if continuing the education at the next program level at your school.

Must an F-1 student wait one academic year before starting to work on campus?

No.

May an F-1 student work at more than one on-campus job?

Yes. However, the F-1 student’s total work hours for all jobs cannot exceed 20 hours during the school term. The F-1 student may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break.

May an F-1 student work on campus while participating in OPT or CPT?

Yes. An F-1 student working on-campus may participate in CPT or in pre-completion OPT before the program end date. The F-1 student’s total work hours for each type of work may not exceed 20 hours while school is in session. The F-1 student may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break. In this context, the F-1 student must remember that the primary purpose for being in the United States and way of maintaining status is enrollment in an SEVP-certified school.

An F-1 student cannot work on-campus after graduation unless continuing education at the next program level at your school.

May an F-1 student work on campus during the 60-day grace period after the program end date?

No. The 60-day "grace" period after graduation or post-completion OPT is for an F-1 student to prepare to leave the United States, unless the student is beginning a new program of study. An F-1 student may consider applying for post-completion OPT to continue working after graduation.

What are the requirements for an F-1 student who transfers?

When an F-1 student transfers to your school, on-campus employment is available to the student only at your school after the record release date. The F-1 student cannot work at the prior school after that date.

You can authorize work starting within 30 days of the program start date.

Is an F border commuter student eligible for on-campus employment?

No. Per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(18), the only employment in which an F-1 border commuter student may engage is CPT and post-completion OPT.

 

Approval Process

How does an F-1 student get permission to work on-campus?

An F-1 student automatically has permission to work on campus (unless he or she is a border commuter) but still needs to work with you to ensure the job offered qualifies as on-campus employment.

An F-1 student will need certification letters from you and the employer. The student must present these letters to officials at the local Social Security Administration office to get a Social Security number

What employment information must I enter into SEVIS?

If the F-1 student intends to list on-campus employment as a means of financial support, enter the dollar amount of the anticipated income in the on-campus employment field in SEVIS when you create the student's initial Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.

If the student's means of support changes and the student now wants to list on-campus employment, you must update the student's record accordingly.

You may include on-campus employment information in the SEVIS remarks section even if the student does not intend to list this work as a means of support.

Terminate the student's SEVIS record for unauthorized employment if the student engages in any unauthorized employment or works hours in excess of those allowed

What employment records should I keep?

We recommend that you keep a copy of the letter from each employer that describes the type of work, the affiliation to the school (if needed), and the number of hours the student will work per week.

Keep a copy of your letter to the Social Security Administration certifying that the student may work on-campus.

My school has several campuses in the local area. May an F-1 student work at a different campus?

F-1 students may work at a campus other than the one at which they attend classes if the other campus meets the following criteria:

  • Within reasonable commuting distance
  • Listed on the same Form I-17, "Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student"
  • Within your jurisdiction as DSO

What does an F-1 student need to do to change on-campus jobs?

An F-1 student needs to talk to you before changing jobs. This will allow you to ensure that the new position qualifies as on-campus employment and to ensure you have the correct employment information in the student's SEVIS record.

 

Work Hours

How many hours can F 1 students work?

On-campus employment for F 1 students must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session, with one rare exception.

F 1 students may work full-time during those periods when school is not in session or during the student’s annual break, as long as they are enrolling full-time the next semester. Students who are transferring may work at the school that has control of their record – at the transfer-out school before the release date and the transfer-in school after the release date.

The IRS defines full-time on-campus employment as 40 hours per week for foreign students who are claiming an exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Are there exceptions to the limit of 20 hours a week for on-campus employment?

The only exception is if the Secretary of DHS suspends this requirement, by means of a Federal Register notice, due to emergent circumstances. The student must demonstrate to you that the extra work is necessary because the emergent circumstance has affected his or her source of support.

Endorse the student’s Form I-20 with a reference to the Federal Register notice that announced the emergency exception before allowing the student to work more than 20 hours a week.

8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(H) states that "on-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship is deemed to be part of the academic program of a full-time student," so can a student work more than 20 hours per week if required and/or allowed by the assistantship?

This citation refers to CPT, not to on-campus employment.

 

Basic Guidelines

What is off-campus employment for F-1 students?

Regulation that defines off-campus employment for F-1 students is in 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(9)(ii)(A). Generally, it is employment that is for economic need and does not necessarily have to relate to the student's academic course of study.

When is off-campus employment available?

An F-1 student must show an ability to afford the costs of school and living expenses before entering the United States and should not plan to work off-campus. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will authorize off-campus employment only in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student's enrollment in an academic program and after the student has been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year, or in emergent circumstances as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

What are emergent circumstances?

Another name for emergent circumstances is special student relief. When a world event impacts a group of nonimmigrants, the Secretary of DHS (the Secretary) may publish a special notice in the Federal Register and grant special student relief. The notice will give details on who is in the group and the eligibility requirements. The Secretary can waive any restrictions on F-1 student employment.

What are the guidelines for off-campus employment of F-1 students based on severe economic hardship?

USCIS makes case-by-case decisions for off-campus employment for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship. These may include the following:

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if the student is not at fault)
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses
  • Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for a student's sources of financial support
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Other substantial, unexpected expenses

An F-1 student must have remained enrolled for at least one academic year, in status and in good academic standing before USCIS will authorize off-campus employment.

The F-1 student must be unable to get on-campus employment, or the pay from available on-campus employment must be insufficient to meet financial needs.

For each request approval, you must provide the F-1 student with a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," endorsed to that effect.

The F-1 student must file a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," and pay a fee to USCIS. The student should file within 30 days of the day you endorse the Form I-20. If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document," (EAD) from USCIS and can begin working.

Approval for off-campus employment is good for one year. If the F-1 student needs to continue working off-campus, the student must re-apply

What are the guidelines for off-campus employment for F-1 students based on emergent circumstances?

The guidelines for off-campus employment based on emergent circumstances are in the authorizing Federal Register notice.

The USCIS website has a listing of notices and memorandums for groups currently allowed relief due to emergent circumstances

What do I need to consider before I recommend off-campus employment for an F-1 student?

First, check to see if on-campus employment is available. Only recommend off-campus employment if available on-campus employment is not sufficient to meet the student's financial needs.

Ensure the student has read and understands the guidelines for off-campus employment.

If the student's situation meets the following criteria, you can recommend off-campus employment:

  • Have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Be enrolled in a full course of study
  • Show that working will not adversely impact the ability to attend school full-time and maintain academic standing
  • Show severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control

How does off-campus work authorization differ from on-campus employment at an off-campus location?

Off-campus work authorization requires case-by-case approval from USCIS. Approval is not based on the student's choice of employer.

On-campus employment at an off-campus location is available to all F-1 students except border commuter students. An F-1 student does not need USCIS approval. However, the employment must be for an employer educationally affiliated with your school. For more details please see the section about on-campus employment

What constitutes severe economic hardship?

Are border commuter students eligible for off-campus employment?

No. According to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(18), a border commuter student may only engage in practical training, specifically CPT and post-completion OPT.

 

Application Process

How does the application process for off-campus employment start?

The process starts when an F-1 student asks your permission to seek employment in an off-campus job. After you decide if you should make the recommendation, enter it in SEVIS. Print the supporting Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," sign pages 1 and 3 and give it to the student.

We recommend that you help the student ensure that the supporting evidence for the Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," clearly shows eligibility.

What is the process for requesting off-campus employment in SEVIS?

What does an F-1 student do after receiving a Form I-20 endorsing the application for off-campus employment?

The student must file a Form I-765 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 30 days. See the USCIS website for the form and filing information. The student must pay a fee to USCIS. Electronic filing is available. Make sure the student reads the form carefully and follows the directions.

As part of the supporting evidence, the F-1 student must include your specially endorsed Form I-20 signed on pages 1 and 3

Can I cancel my recommendation for off-campus employment?

Yes. You have the option in SEVIS – see the User Manual for School Users of SEVIS Volume II Form I-20.

How does USCIS decide an application for off-campus employment?

The only reasons for granting work authorization for off-campus employment are economic hardship or emergent circumstances. The USCIS officer will base the decision on the following information:

  • Form I-20
  • Form I-765
  • Additional supporting materials
  • The Federal Register notice governing emergent circumstances, if applicable

How can an F-1 student find out the status of an application for employment authorization?

The F-1 student can check online at the USCIS website using the application receipt number.

What happens if USCIS approves an application for employment authorization?

If USCIS approves an F-1 student's employment authorization application, they will send the student a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document," and a letter notifying the student of the decision. In addition, the F-1 student's SEVIS record automatically updates to show the off-campus employment approval.

What happens if USCIS denies an application for employment authorization?

If denying an application for employment authorization for off-campus employment, USCIS will send the F-1 student a denial letter giving the reason(s) for the denial.

Can an F-1 student appeal a USCIS denial of an application for employment authorization for off-campus employment?

No. If USCIS denies an application for employment authorization, the F-1 student will receive a letter that explains the decision. The student can file a motion (by the deadline given in the letter) with the same office to re-open or to reconsider the decision.

By filing a motion, the F-1 student is asking USCIS to re-examine or reconsider its decision

  • A motion to re-open must state any new facts that would support the motion. USCIS may require the F-1 student to submit affidavits or other documentary evidence in support of these new facts.
  • A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision was based on an incorrect application of law or immigration policy, and further establish that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in the file at the time USCIS made the initial decision. For information on how to file a motion to re-open or to reconsider, see the USCIS website.

What if an F 1 student cannot afford the application fee for a Form I-765 or motion?

An F-1 student may apply to have the fee waived. For information see the USCIS website.

 

Work Hours and Period of Work Authorization

May an F-1 student begin off-campus employment with a pending Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization"?

No.

How many hours may an F-1 student work with authorization for off-campus employment?

Hours an F-1 student may work for off-campus employment
 Number of hours
While school is in session20 hours per week or fewer
During the F-1 student’s annual breakFull-time
When school is not in sessionFull-time (if the F-1 student plans to enroll full-time in the next session)

See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii) for a full explanation of the limits when school is not in session.

Are there exceptions to the limit of 20 hours a week for on-campus employment?

The only exceptions are emergent circumstances. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security may lift the limits temporarily by publishing a notice in the Federal Register.

How long is the authorization for off-campus employment valid?

Authorization lasts for one year. For more information, see the question on When is off-campus employment available?

If an F-1 student has been working off-campus but has an expired current work authorization, may that student continue working while the new Form I-765 is pending?

No. To avoid this situation, an F-1 student should submit new Form I-765 from ninety days to six months before the expiration of the current EAD.

If USCIS does not approve or deny the Form I-765 within 90 days of receiving the application, the F-1 student may apply for interim employment authorization. See the USCIS website for more information.

Will off-campus work authorization continue if an F-1 student has a pending application for change of status?

Yes, work authorization continues as long as the EAD has not expired and the student otherwise maintains F-1 status.

Can an F-1 student lose permission for off-campus employment?

Yes, it is possible for USCIS to reopen and deny the F-1 student application for off-campus employment. A denied application ends the student’s employment authorization. An F-1 student must maintain status and be in good academic standing. Employment authorization automatically ends if that student does not maintain status. One example of a violation of status is working more hours than authorized.

May an F-1 student at a school apply for a transfer and continue to work off-campus?

An F-1 student whose EAD has not expired may work at the transfer-out school up to the transfer release date, but not after. An F-1 student who needs to continue working off-campus after the transfer must apply at the transfer-in school.

May an F-1 student transferring in to a school with approval for off-campus employment continue working off-campus?

No. This is not permissible on the current EAD authorized on the basis of recommendation from the transfer-out school. A designated school official (DSO) at the transfer-in school must review the student’s circumstances and make new recommendations, if warranted. The student will have to file a new Form I-765 with supporting documents and fees, but does not have to wait a year before reapplying.

May an F-1 student who travels outside the United States resume off-campus employment upon return?

Yes, this is permissible if the F-1 student meets all of the following characteristics:

  • Unexpired EAD
  • The student still attends the school
  • The student is maintaining status

What must a DSO do if the F-1 student works more hours than authorized or works past the date the authorization ends?

The DSO must report this action to SEVP in SEVIS by terminating the student’s record for unauthorized employment.

DSOs should stay in touch with F-1 students and emphasize the need to carefully follow the guidelines for off-campus employment.

Can an F-1 student who has graduated and has an unexpired EAD continue to work off-campus?

The former F-1 student cannot use the EAD for off-campus employment after graduation but may be eligible to apply for post-completion optional practical training.

 

Basic Guidelines for Designated School Officials (DSOs)

What is an internship with an international organization?

The internship must meet certain criteria:

  • With a recognized international organization within the meaning of the 59 Stat. 669, International Organization Immunities Act, (see 22 USC 288)
  • Within the scope of the organization's sponsorship

What do I need to consider before I certify a student's eligibility for an internship at an international organization for a student?

The student must meet certain criteria:

  • Be in F-1 status
  • Not be a border commuter student
  • Be enrolled full-time
  • Have a written offer of employment from a qualifying international organization

You do not need to consider either of these items:

  • Need or hardship
  • Relationship of the internship to the student's field of study

May a border commuter student work as an intern at an international organization?

A border commuter student may not work as this type of intern within the United States. Commuter students may only engage in optional or curricular practical training.

 

Application Process

How does a student apply for approval to work as intern for an international organization?

This student must follow a specific process to complete this application:

  • Have a written offer from the organization
  • Have a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," from the DSO, signed within the last 30 days, certifying that the applicant is a bona fide F-1 student
  • Submit the following to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
    • Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization"
    • Fee for the Form I-765 (See the USCIS website for the form and filing information.)
    • Supporting documentation listed on the Form I-765

Where can my students and I find recognized international organizations within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669)?

These international organizations are available in 8 CFR 316.20.

How does the approval process for employment as an international organization intern start?

The process starts when a student asks about employment as an intern at an international organization.

If you decide to certify the student's eligibility, enter your recommendation into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Print the supporting Form I-20, sign pages 1 and 3 and give the form to the student

What is the process for approving employment as an intern at an international organization in SEVIS?

Can I cancel my recommendation for employment as an intern at an international organization?

Yes. You have the option in SEVIS, but only before the student submits the Form I-765 and supporting documentation. See the User Manual for School Users of SEVIS Volume II Form I-20.

How does a student check the status of an application?

 

Work Hours and Period of Authorization

For how many hours can a student have authorization to work as an intern at an international organization?

This type of employment can be full-time or part-time. However, the student must be full-time student and maintain status.

For how long is the employment authorization for intern employment at an international organization valid?

This authorization is valid for one year. If the job continues to be available, the student must apply for continued employment authorization six or more months before the authorization expires.

Can a student continue working as an intern at an international organization if the current work authorization has expired but a new application is pending?

No. See the related question.