US Employment Rules for F1 Students (On Campus)

October 6th, 2006 by Keith Clausen

Most international students in the United States hold an F1 visa, which is the US non-immigrant student visa. F1 students are allowed to work in the United States, but only under certain conditions and in accordance with complex guidelines and restrictions issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Generally, all employment is contingent on remaining within the terms and restrictions of your F1 visa. There are several categories of employment during the term of your stay as an F1 student in the US. This post will address on-campus employment. In the next posts, we’ll address off-campus employment, including severe economic hardship, optional practical training (OPT), curricular practical training (CPT), and recognized international institution employment categories.

On-Campus Employment. On-campus employment is the category most freely permitted by the USCIS regulations, and does not require USCIS approval. However, although F1 status includes an on-campus employment privilege, on-campus employment opportunities at most schools are limited. Even if you can obtain on-campus employment, you may not rely on it to prove financial resources for the year, and often these jobs are not related to your studies. Many schools do require that you obtain permission from the International Student Office prior to accepting any on-campus employment, and may not permit such employment in a student’s first semester or year.

For on-campus work, an F1 student is subject to the following rules:

* You must maintain valid F1 status

* You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session

* You can work full time on campus during holidays and vacation periods, if you intend to register for the next academic semester.

* The employment may not displace (take a job away from) a U.S. resident

The definition of on-campus employment includes:

*Work performed on the school’s premises directly for your school (including work affiliated with a grant or assistantship).

*Work performed for on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria.

(Employment with on-site commercial firms which do not provide direct student services, such as a construction company building a school building, is not deemed on-campus employment for the purposes of the rule.)

*Work performed at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school. The educational affiliation must be associated with the school’s established curriculum or related to contractually funded research projects at the post-graduate level. In any event, the employment must be an integral part of the student’s educational program.

Since your status is always contingent on your school’s support, you must seek guidance and clearance from your International Student Office prior to applying for or accepting any employment, and you should request their particular interpretation of any ambiguous situation. You will also need your school’s guidance to ensure that you file all appropriate forms with USCIS and receive any necessary USCIS approval.

To see the text of the entire rules governing on-campus employment by F1 students, click here.

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