Employment for International Students
On-campus employment is work done on school grounds that provides direct services to students. International students cannot work for employers on-campus who don’t provide services to students, such as a contractor building a new building. International students can work in any of the offices on campus, at the University Store, for Sodexo (The Perch Dining Hall), or Edgewood Hawks Point.
You may work on campus as soon as you start classes. On-campus employment does not need to be related to your field of study. However, you must keep legal status. If your F-1 or J-1 status changes (completion of program, change of immigration status, termination, etc.), you will not be allowed to work on campus.
To be eligible for on-campus employment, you must be a full-time student in active status.
International students do not qualify for Federal Work-Study (FWS) positions. You can apply for any Institutional Work-Study position (IWS).
- Federal regulations prohibit F-1 and J-1 students from working more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.
- A work week is Sunday through Saturday.
- The 20-hour-per-week limit on employment applies to all positions combined. For example, if you work 15 hours a week in the cafeteria, you can only work another 5 hours during that week at the bookstore.
- 20 hours per week is not an average, but a strict limit. You cannot work 15 hours one week and 25 hours the following week.
- You can work full-time only during official breaks (spring, winter, and summer). A vacation period starts the Sunday after classes are out of session and ends the Saturday before classes resume.
F-2 dependents cannot accept employment.
J-2 dependents can apply for permission from USCIS to accept employment if they make their request in writing saying that they will use the income only to support the J-2 dependents. The request must also say they will not use the income to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
J-1 Exchange Students will need approval from the Director of International Programs before they accept on-campus jobs. As an exchange student, you may work on campus up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and full-time during official school breaks and annual vacation, as long as you:
- are in good academic standing
- are engaged in a full course of study
- have received written approval from the Office of International Programs for the specific employment in advance
Your approval to work is good for up to 12 months but is automatically withdrawn if your program ends.
Working without authorization or exceeding authorization is a serious violation of status. It is your responsibility to follow all immigration and employment regulations that apply to F-1 and J-1 students. Failure to follow these regulations could result in serious consequences, including termination of status.
You cannot work off campus until you have approval from the Director of International Programs. Always visit with the Office of International Programs staff before doing any type of work, even if it is unpaid.
Off-campus employment opportunities are highly regulated and limited by immigration regulations. Students who have completed at least one academic year of their program are eligible to apply for certain types of employment.
CPT is employment directly related to your academic program and must be an important part of the curriculum. CPT is temporary work for which you earn academic credit. It is usually part-time hours except during official school breaks (Spring, Summer, and Winter). The chair of your academic department must approve the job, and the Director of International Program must authorize it.
You cannot start your CPT job until you have received authorization for it. To be eligible, you must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year. You must also be registered as a full-time student in good academic standing during regular academic semesters.
Visit Study in the States for more information about Curricular Practical Training.
If you participate in 12 months of CPT during the duration of your study program, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training.
If you have been a full-time student for at least one academic year, you are eligible for 12 months of OPT. You may work for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to your major. This does not apply to minors or concentrations.
OPT allows you to apply what you learn in your classes to a practical work experience, which is why it is major specific. OPT employment can be part- or full-time, and you can work anywhere in the U.S. Most students participate in OPT after they graduate, though there are limited circumstances in which you can apply before graduation.
OPT requires an authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Centers. Granting of OPT is not automatic. If USCIS approves the employment, it will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This card is your authorization to work in your major field for the dates on the card. You cannot start your OPT job until you have received the EAD.
STEM degree fields (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics):
If your major is one of the STEM degree fields, you might be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT for a total of 36 months of training. A qualifying E-Verify employer must employ you.
Applying for OPT
You may start your application within three months before the end of your study program but not more than three months. USCIS can take 90-120 days to approve an application for OPT.
Reporting Requirements While on OPT
While you are engaged in OPT, you must provide the following to a Designated School Official (DSO):
- Confirmation of registering a SEVIS Portal account
- A hire letter
- Any change of employment (loss of employment, change of employer, etc.)
- You MUST submit a photocopy of the front and back of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)
- Any changes of your name or address
- Letter explaining how your job relates to your study program
Note: USCIS allows for three months total of unemployment. If you do not update your information with employment within three months, your unemployment allowance will expire and your status will be terminated in SEVIS.
Visit Study in the States for more information about Optional Practical Training.
If you are in F-1 or J-1 status and have experienced financial need since beginning your studies at DSU that is both unforeseen and beyond your control, you can receive authorization based on economic hardship.
You should consider economic hardship only after all other possible jobs have failed to be enough.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is mainly for the reporting of wages (income) for people who are authorized to work and for deciding eligibility for social security benefits. It is a taxpayer identification number for employment purposes only. If you are working on campus, then you will need to apply for an SSN.
A Social Security Number and card does not mean you have permission to work. It is not proof of citizenship or residency.
As an international student, you are eligible for a social security number only if you have evidence of employment. If you do not have a job, you cannot apply for an SSN.
After you have been offered a job, you will need to apply for an SSN.
Please note: If you qualify as nonresident for tax purposes, the DSU Office of International Programs can only give you basic information about completing U.S. Federal Taxes.
Everyone must file taxes before April 15 for income earned between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year. Dickinson State University cannot give you formal tax advice, so you should not consider any basic information you receive as formal advice. Please consult professional tax services, as necessary.
Your employer will send you a Form W-2 at the end of the calendar year in which you were employed. You should receive one from all employers. This form is necessary for the completion of your tax return and provides information on your wages and amount of taxes withheld. If you do not receive a Form W-2 from an employer by the end of January, contact that employer immediately.
Who must file tax forms?
All international students are expected to complete U.S. tax forms with the U.S. Federal Government, whether or not you have had any U.S. source of income.
Income is money from any source including wages from work and money from U.S.-based fellowships/scholarships.
What tax forms do I file?
Between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year, if you had:
No U.S. source of income: ONLY file Form 8843
A U.S. source of income: file Form 8843 AND Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ
(1040 NR is for nonresident aliens with dependents and 1040NR-EZ is for nonresident aliens with no dependents)
Nonresident aliens, in general, are also responsible for Social Security and Medicare taxes on U.S. wages they earned. There are certain exceptions based on their nonimmigrant status. Click here for the classes of nonimmigrants and nonresident aliens exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes.