International students on an F-1 visa may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment. Employment options for F-1 students are listed below.
All F-1 or J-1 students are eligible to begin on-campus work no earlier than 30 days before the start date on their I-20, must end before or on the end date of their I-20, and can only apply for state work study jobs.
Check the Student Employment Center website for available positions.
On-campus employment by F-1 or J-1 students is permitted as long as the student works no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. Students may be employed full-time during vacations and recess periods as long as they intend to register for the next term.
On-campus employment means employment performed on the premises of the school or at an affiliated off-campus location. On-campus employment may be of a type normally performed by students, such as work in the school library, cafeterias, computer center, or in a student’s store, or employment that is part of a student’s scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship.
Under no circumstances are students permitted to accept off-campus employment without the authorization of the Office of International Education and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To do so is to violate USCIS law and would seriously jeopardize your F-1 or J-1 visa status.
Students working on campus are exempt from having to obtain an employment authorization card from USCIS.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Cooperative education and internship programs allow students to obtain practical work experience in their field of study. In order for F-1 students to participate in off-campus work experiences, immigration regulations require students to receive academic credits for the work experience, unless it is a required component of their degree program. US Citizenship and Immigration Services refers to this kind of off-campus work experience as Curricular Practical Training.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is a work benefit allowed to international students in F-1 immigration status who are enrolled in, or completing a degree program in, the U.S. Work can be done at one or several locations for any amount of hours as any rate of pay. OPT is not a “work visa” and does not require you to remain at one company for the entire OPT period.
Authorization for OPT is granted by USCIS and can take two to three months to obtain. Therefore, it is important that you apply three months before the date you wish to start working. You may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before your completion date, and USCIS must receive your application no later than 60 days beyond your completion date or 60 days beyond the end date of your I-20 (whichever is earlier), or, if you are a graduate student, no later than 60 days beyond the last day that you are registered as a student or the end date of your I-20 (whichever is earlier). You cannot apply more than 120 days before the start date you choose. You must send your application which 30 days of getting the new I-20 from the OIE. For more information on OPT, please click on the application link below and watch our short OPT video.
Pre-completion practical training is permitted for F-1 students as long as the work is for no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session.
Full-time employment under this category is allowed during vacations and recess periods as long as the student intends to register for the next term. Time spent in pre-completion practical training will be deducted from the 12 months of full-time employment available for post-completion practical training. For example, if the student works 20 hours a week for four months, he/she would have two months deducted from the 12 months of post-completion practical training.
Applications are submitted to the Citizenship and Immigration Services for final decision.
F-1 students are entitled to up to one year post-completion practical training for each successive and higher degree. Time spent in pre-completion practical training is deducted from the 12-month period.
Students must apply 90 days before completion of the degree.
Applications are submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for final decision.
Severe Economic Hardship
This F-1 employment benefit was created to address situations where a financial need beyond the student's control arises, which was unforeseen at the time of arriving in the U.S. To apply, a student must have been in F-1 status for at least two semesters.
If approved, off-campus work permission can be used on-campus as well as off-campus and allows students to work 20 hours/week while school is in session and full-time during recesses, and is given in one-year increments. Students can reapply after one year for an additional year of work authorization.
Applications are submitted to the Citizenship and Immigration Services for final decision. If you would like to apply for Severe Economic Hardship work permission, please make an appointment to meet with an international student advisor. Your application materials will be reviewed, and the OIE will mail your application to the local service center.
OPT 24-Month STEM Extension
On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a new STEM Final Rule, with effective date May 10, 2016. NAFSA: Association of International Educators provides a summary of the rule and current updates and background. Detailed information for students and employers can also be found on the DHS Study in the States OPT STEM Hub. See below for a summary of changes in the new STEM rule.
Eligible students may apply for a 24-Month STEM Extension up to 90 days prior to the expiration of their OPT EAD.
The 2016 STEM Extension rule institutes significant changes for the F-1 OPT STEM Extension, including:
Effective May 10, 2016 the STEM Extension will be for 24 months.
STEM applications may only be submitted up to 90 days prior to the initial 12-month OPT EAD card expiration.
The new rule allows a total of two lifetime STEM Extensions, the second after earning a new STEM-eligible degree at a higher level and obtaining a new, higher-level 12-month OPT authorization.
The STEM Extension may be on a previously earned STEM degree.
STEM Definition and CIP Categories
Requires significant responsibility of the employer to provide a training plan related to the field of study, and attestations to wages and compensation being commensurate with "similarly situated U.S. workers."
Six-month validation reports, annual evaluations, and submission of a new I-983 are now required. Employers must agree to Department of Homeland Security site visits, as well as provide attestations to wages and working conditions.
Volunteer/unpaid, employment through employment agencies and self-employment are NOT allowed. STEM-eligible employers must have e-Verify and EIN numbers and the student must have a “bona fide employer-employee relationship.” Other types of employment are also problematic, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through “temp” agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. DHS confirms that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT Extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
Students with 24-month STEM Extensions may have up to 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period, including the initial 12-month OPT period and the 24-month STEM OPT period.
USCIS will not accept 17-month STEM applications after May 9, 2016.
Starting May 10, 2016, all new STEM applications will fall under the 2016 24-Month Rule. Students who were previously approved for 17-month STEM Extensions and who are not eligible or do not apply for the transition 24-month STEM Extension will continue to follow the 17-month STEM regulations until the completion of their 17-month STEM EAD.
The J-1 classification (exchange visitors) is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
Some J-1 non-immigrants enter the United States specifically to work while others do not. Employment is authorized for J-1 non-immigrants only under the terms of the exchange program. Please check with your sponsoring agency for more information on any restrictions that may apply to you working in the United States
All J-1 students are eligible to begin on-campus work no earlier than 30 days before their start date on their DS-2019 and must end before or on the end date of their DS-2019 and can only apply for state work study jobs.
Check the Student Employment Center for available positions.
On-campus employment for J-1 students is permitted as long as the student works no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. Students may be employed full-time during vacations and recess periods as long as they intend to register for the next term.
On-campus employment means employment performed on the premises of the school or at an affiliated off-campus location. On-campus employment may be of a type normally performed by students, such as work in the school library, cafeterias, computer center, or in a students' store, or employment that is part of a student's scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship.
Under no circumstances are students permitted to accept off-campus employment without the authorization of the Office of International Education and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To do so is to violate USCIS law and would seriously jeopardize your F-1 or J-1 visa status.
Students working on campus are exempt from having to obtain an employment authorization card (EAD) from USCIS.
Academic training is work, training, or experience related to a student's field of study. You must have permission and documentation before starting a paid position.
Exchange students qualify for academic training that equals the number of months they have studied: one semester exchange equals four months of academic training; one year exchange equals eight months of academic training.
For degree-seeking students, training is permitted at any stage of study—during or after—and cannot exceed an overall period of 18 months or a period equivalent to the duration of their program. Doctoral students may qualify for up to 36 months of training. If you begin academic training after completion of a degree, it must begin within 30 days of the end of the program.
To be eligible, students must be in the U.S. primarily to study rather than engage in academic training.
Students may change employers and have paid or unpaid training-as long as documentation is provided from the Office of International Education to student for employer.
Full-time employment under this category is allowed during vacations and recess periods as long as the student intends to register for the next term. Time spent in pre-completion practical training will be deducted from the period of full-time employment available for post-completion practical training. For example, if the student works 20 hours a week for four months, he/she would have two months deducted from the 12 months of post-completion practical training.
The Office of International Education international advisor may authorize a student for this work permission because of serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances.
Examples of severe economic hardship include the following:
Please submit to the Office of International Education:
If approved, the Office of International Education will issue a letter permitting you to legally work off campus. This can be given in one-year intervals and has to be renewed each year.
Social Security Numbers for F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders
The Social Security Administration now requires all F-1 and J-1 students to supply evidence of employment before being issued a Social Security number. A Social Security number (SSN) cannot be issued for identification purposes or for a driver's license. It can take two to six weeks to be issued a SSN. You can be paid after you apply for an SSN.
Important Note: Students in their first semester at IUP must have been in the U.S. for 10 days AND wait until one week after the drop/add period before applying. (Computer systems must be in sync.)
By Jennifer Flanigan
Social Security Operations Supervisor/Indiana, Pa.
Whether you are a new U.S. citizen or a noncitizen with authorization to work in this country, you need to apply for a Social Security card and number in order to work in the United States.
While most American citizens now have Social Security cards issued at birth, a noncitizen applying for his or her first Social Security card or number must prove identity, age, and citizenship.
If you are a naturalized citizen, you will need to prove your citizenship with documentation from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service). You also must complete an application for a Social Security card, which you can find online at the Social Security Administration (pdf). You can bring your completed application into your local Social Security Office or Social Security Card Center along with official documents that show:
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
Even if you already have a Social Security number when you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you should still contact Social Security to update your status.
All noncitizens needing a Social Security number must prove their immigration status and also show proof of age, identity, and work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security. To prove your age, you must show your birth certificate if you have it or can easily get it. If not, we can ask for other documents, such as your passport.
As proof of immigration status and identity, Social Security will ask for your unexpired passport and current immigration documents from the Department of Homeland Security, including a:
These documents must be current, meaning they cannot be expired. And, again, all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
If you would like more information about Social Security cards and the requirements needed to get one, just visit the Social Security Number and Card website. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication Your Social Security Number and Card, or Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens.
If you do not have a job currently, you cannot be issued a Social Security number.
To obtain a driver's license or Pennsylvania ID card:
Information below is for tax year 2016. Income tax returns need to be filed by April 15, 2017.
A tax packet will be available on March 1, 2017, in the Office of International Education, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Workshops will be held at the IUP Writing Center, 218 Eicher Hall, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on these days:
Please bring all tax documents, plus passport number and all dates you entered/exited the U.S.
If you did earn any U.S. income (received a paycheck, including teaching assistants, graduate assistants, on-campus work, or authorized off-campus work) during the 2016 calendar year, there are three types of income tax returns international students must file: federal, state, and local taxes. F-1 students who have been present in the U.S. for five years or more need to file taxes as a resident for tax purposes. Residents for tax purposes need to file IRS 1040, PA-40, and local taxes. Free online filing is available at the sites listed below. Do not use GLACIER-this is only for all F and J students and scholars who are non-residents for tax purposes.
The Office of International Education will not be able to answer specific tax questions other than to review basic filing instructions. Please read the following information carefully and contact the numbers provided. Students can also contact an accountant or tax agency, like H&R Block, to complete tax forms.
Our workshops give an overview of how to file all three types of taxes and resources available for international students. GLACIER is an online program to assist international students with filing their federal income tax returns. A password is available in the Office of International Education or at each workshop. Please attend workshops if at all possible. If not, please refer to the phone numbers and websites given.
If you did not earn U.S. income during the 2016 calendar year:
If you did earn U.S. income during the 2016 calendar year (see forms and instructions below):
The Office of International Education recommends all students use GLACIER, a software program that assists F-1 and J-1 students with filing their tax returns. International Education has purchased access for 199 students. Password information is available at the office. Individuals can purchase access for $39.99 at Arctic International.
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