On-Campus Employment

International students may work on campus as soon as their program of study begins. "On-campus employment" is employment performed on the school premises, which provides direct services to students. International students may not work for employers on-campus who do not provide services to students, such as a contractor building a new building. International students may be employed in any of the offices on campus, at the University Store, for Sodexo, as well as Hawks Point.

On-campus employment does not need to be related to a student's field of study. However, the student must maintain legal status at all times. If the student's F-1 or J-1 status changes (completion of program, change of immigration status, termination, etc.), employment is no longer allowed.


In order to be eligible for on campus employment, an international student must be a full-time student in active status.

International students do not qualify for Federal “work-study” positions.


  • 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 generally defined as Sunday through Saturday.
  • The 20-hour-per-week limit on employment applies to all positions combined. For example, if a student works 15 hours a week in the cafeteria, he or she can only work an additional 5 hours during that week at the bookstore.
  • 20 hours per week is not an average, but a strict limit. Students may not work 15 hours one week and then 25 hours the following week.
  • Full-time employment is allowed 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 are not permitted to accept employment. J-2 dependents may apply for permission from USCIS to accept employment if they make their request in writing, stating that the income will be used only for the support of the J-2 dependents. The request must also state the income will not be used for the support of the J-1 Exchange Visitor.

J-1 Exchange Visitors

J-1 Exchange Students will need prior authorization to accept on-campus employment by the Director of International Programs at DSU. An exchange student may be authorized to 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 the student:

  • is in good academic standing
  • is engaged in a full course of study
  • has received written approval from the Office of International Programs for the specific employment in advance

Such approval may be valid for up to twelve months but is automatically withdrawn if the student's program is terminated.


Working without authorization, or exceeding authorization, is a serious violation of status. It is the student’s responsibility to comply with all immigration and employment regulations which apply to F-1 and J-1 students. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in serious consequences, including termination of status.

Off Campus Employment

International students are not eligible for off campus employment without prior approval of the Director of International Programs. Always visit with the Office of International Programs staff before engaging in any type of employment, 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

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is employment directly related to an international student's academic program and must be an integral part of the curriculum. CPT is temporary employment for which a student earns academic credit. CPT is usually authorized for part-time except during official school breaks (Spring, Summer and Winter). Employment must be approved by the Chair of the student's academic department and authorized by the Director of International Programs.

Authorization for employment must be received prior to beginning CPT employment. In order to be eligible a student must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year. They 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 regarding Curricular Practical Training.


Participating in 12 months of CPT during the duration of a student’s program of study will cause them to forfeit Optional Practical Training eligibility.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Current international students who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year are eligible for twelve months of OPT. You may work for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to your major program of study. This does not apply to minors or concentrations.

OPT allows you an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge gained from your academic program to a practical work experience, which is why it is major specific. OPT employment may be part or full-time and you may be employed anywhere in the U.S. Most students participate in OPT after they graduate, though there are limited circumstances in which you can apply prior to graduation.

OPT requires an authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Centers. Granting of OPT is not automatic. If employment is approved USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This card is your authorization to work in your major field for the dates specified on the card. Employment may not begin until the EAD has been received by you.

STEM degree fields (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics:

If your major is one of the STEM degree fields you may be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT for a total of 36 months or training. You must be employed by a qualifying E-Verify employer.

Click here for a list of majors qualifying for the STEM extension.

Applying for OPT

You may start your application no more than three months prior to the end of your program of study. USCIS can take 90-120 days to approve an application for OPT.

Reporting Requirements while on OPT

While you are engaged in OPT you are required to 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 program of study

*USCIS allows for three months total of unemployment. If information is not updated within three months, your unemployment allowance will be expired and your status will be terminated in SEVIS.

Visit Study in the States for more information regarding Optional Practical Training.

Severe Economic Hardship

Authorization based on economic hardship is intended for students who have experienced financial need that is both unforeseen and beyond the student's control since beginning their studies at DSU. It is available for students in F-1 or J-1 status.

Economic hardship should be considered only after all other potential employment opportunities have been found to be insufficient.

Social Security Information

A Social Security Number (SSN) is primarily for the reporting of wages (income) for people who are authorized to work and for determining eligibility for social security benefits. It is intended only for employment purposes. It is a taxpayer identification number. If you are working on campus, then you will need to apply for a SSN. A Social Security Number and card does not constitute permission to work. It is not proof of citizenship or residency.

International students are eligible for social security numbers only if they have evidence of employment. If you do not have a job, you will not be eligible to apply for a SSN.

After you have been offered a job, you will need to apply for a SSN. 


Please note that Dickinson State University Office of International Programs can only provide basic information about completing U.S. Federal Taxes for international students who qualify as non-resident for tax purposes.

Taxes have to be filed before April 15th for income earned between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year. Dickinson State University cannot provide formal tax advice for students and hence any basic information provided should not be considered as formal advice. Please consult professional tax services as necessary.

A Form W-2 will be sent to you 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 US tax forms with the US federal government, whether or not they have had any US source of income.

Income is money from any source including wages from work and money from fellowships/scholarships which is US based.

International Forms Samples

What Tax Forms do I file for?

If you had no US source of income from January 1st until December 31st of the previous year you file ONLY- FORM 8843.

If you had a US source of income from January 1st until December 31st of the previous year you will file for FORM 8843 AND FORM 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. (1040 NR is for Non-resident aliens with dependents and 1040NR-EZ if for non-resident aliens with no dependents)

Here are some links that will be helpful:

IRS link for non-resident aliens:


IRS forms and publications


Nonresident aliens, in general, are also liable for Social Security/Medicare Taxes on wages paid to them for services performed by them in the United States. There are certain exceptions based on their nonimmigrant status. The following classes of nonimmigrants and nonresident aliens are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/foreign-student-liability-for-social-security-and-medicare-taxes