International Students Working On Campus

March 19th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

Did you know that if you are an international student in the US, you are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session? The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services also allow international students to work up to 40 hours per week during summer, winter, and spring breaks (when classes are not in session). While this will probably not cover all of your costs, it can be helpful to cover many of your personal expenses.

According to the US Department of Homeland Security, on-campus employment is “work that takes place either at your school or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with your school. This work could be for an on-campus commercial business, like a bookstore or cafeteria, as long as the work directly provides services for students.”

In order to work on campus you will need to maintain a legal F-1 status and be currently enrolled in a full-time class load. You can begin working as early as 30 days before classes begins until your graduation (exceptions may apply if you will be enrolling in another program at your school).

While your work does not need to be related to your field of study, many international students look for a position where they can gain transferable skills that will prove useful upon graduation. Many of the positions on campus start at minimum wage (which is currently at $7.25 per hour for the national standard); however depending on your experience and position you may be able to find a higher paying position. On campus jobs include working at your school’s:

  • Cafeteria/dining facilities
  • Bookstore
  • Library
  • Health Club
  • Administrative offices

Or, students can find other opportunities as a:

  • Teaching or research assistant
  • Resident Assistant (RA) after your first year in an on-campus dormitory – free accommodations, sometimes salary or meal plan

Not only does working on campus acts as a secondary source of financial aid, but it also enhances your overall experience in the US. By working on campus, international students will gain meaningful work experience as well as organization and time management skills that will be a valuable asset to your future employer. By working on campus, you will have the opportunity to meet friends and develop contacts who can serve as a reference during your job search.

If you are an international student working on campus, don’t forget that you will be required to pay and report your earnings. Depending on your country, you may be eligible for tax exemptions depending on if your home country has tax treaty.


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