Employment Options & Concerns
There are strict rules regarding international students' ability to work in the United States. Students in VALID F-1 status may work ON CAMPUS at the school they are authorized to attend. Student in VALID F-1 status cannot be employed OFF CAMPUS without meeting certain requirements and obtaining written authorization BEFORE engaging in off campus work. Below are brief descriptions of several employment options as well as some general concerns that all F-1 students should be aware of when interested in employment in the United States. If you are interested in any of these types of employment or would like further information, you should speak with the International Student Counselor.
On Campus Employment
Students in valid F-1 status are eligible to work on campus for 20 hours per week during the academic year and full time during breaks and the summer vacation. You do not need to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for on campus work. When accepting employment, you will need to complete several forms with the Human Resources Office on campus to show them that you are eligible to work (expiration date of I-20) and that you are in valid F-1 status at the time of your application to work. Please remember, you must maintain your F-1 status in order to be legally working on campus. You may also want to refer to the sections on Maintaining Your F-1 Status and On Campus Employment for F-1 Students.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
CPT is a type of employment for F-1 students who have been in status for at least 9 months that is NOT required but is an integral part of the curriculum or educational program. This may be an internship or any other work experience that is either for credit or required for your degree. Like on campus employment, CPT work must be part time (20 hours per week) during the academic year but can be full time during breaks and summer vacation. It is important to note that students who engage in FULL TIME CPT for 12 MONTHS OR MORE will lose their Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit when they graduate. You can apply for CPT with your International Student Counselor. You do not need to apply through USCIS. To find out more about CPT, visit your International Student Counselor and refer to the section on Curricular Practical Training.
Optional Practical Training (OPT):
This type of employment is a type of temporary work on or off campus directly related to your major area of study. You may receive only one 12 month period of OPT per educational degree level. Like the other types of employment already noted, OPT must be part time during the academic year but can be full time during summer vacation and breaks. There are different categories of OPT. One of the most popular at BCC is Full Time OPT after completion of studies. There are many rules to applying for OPT so it is important to contact the International Student Counselor well in advance. For example, immigration regulations require students who want full time OPT following their course of study to apply within 60 days of completion end date. The authorization for OPT is from USCIS so there is an application process that your International Student Counselor will assist with as well as an application fee. It can take 90 days for approval so you need to plan ahead. Look for the section on Optional Practical Training for much more detailed information.
If other employment opportunities are not available or are not sufficient, F-1 students may apply for off campus work authorization for Economic Hardship. Economic Hardship is defined as unforeseen financial hardship caused by circumstances beyond their control (for example, fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, unexpected medical expenses, etc.). Thorough documentation concerning the situation is required as well as an application process to USCIS and an application fee. To learn more about this type of work authorization, you should speak with the International Student Counselor.
Other Employment Concerns
In general, F-1 students are subject to federal income tax and any state or local taxes. Your employers Human Resource Office should be able to assist you in completing the necessary forms for your taxes to be withheld.
Income Taxes must be filed each year no later than April 15th to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Because of the complexity of income tax laws, it is advisable to have questions answered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a reliable tax consultant.
ALL F-1 students must file IRS Form 8843 REGARDLESS of whether you have been employed in the United States.
Social Security Number
In order to work in the United States, on or off campus, you will need a Social Security Number. A social security card alone is NOT permission to work. You must get the appropriate permission depending on which type of employment listed earlier that you are interested in pursuing. You must have an offer of employment before you will be able to apply for a Social Security card. More information is available in the handout Obtaining a Social Security Card from your International Student Counselor.
Please Note the Following:
Employment is defined as the rendering of services, part time or full time, for financial or other compensation, including self-employment. As an F-1 Student, you must be very cautious to follow the regulations regarding work; otherwise, your F-1 status could be jeopardized.