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International Students and Scholars

An Overview of International Student/Scholar Employment

The United States has very strict rules regarding the ability of foreign nationals to work in the United States. International students in valid F-1 or J-1 status may work on campus at the school which they are authorized to attend for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full time during university vacation and holiday breaks. Students in valid F-1 or J-1 status cannot be employed off-campus without meeting eligibility requirements and obtaining prior authorization from International Students and Scholars, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State. Dependents in F-2 status may not be employed under any circumstances while in the U.S. Dependents in J-2 status, must have a work authorization card issued by the USCIS before they can work on or off campus. Students in other statuses are generally prohibited from any kind of employment, either on or off-campus. Please see ISS if you have any questions about accepting employment.

How is "Employment" Defined?
U.S. federal regulations offer the following definition: "The term employee means an individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration." 8 CFR 274a. 1(f).

Compensation means something is given to you because you provided a service. It can be a paycheck, a bonus payment, a stipend, or it can be meal vouchers, room and board, or payment of your travel costs. Any of these would be considered to be compensation under USCIS regulations.

Simply put, if you receive anything for providing a service, you are being compensated.

Volunteering is defined as engaging in an activity that anyone (U.S. citizen or citizen of another country) would engage in without expectation of compensation, monetary or otherwise, for the service provided.

It is important to note that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will enforce civil and criminal penalties against those who work without the appropriate authorization and employers who fail to verify employment eligibility. Illegal employment is a deportable offense. Therefore, it is very important that international students understand the regulations governing employment eligibility.

Questions about employment eligibility should be directed to staff in International Students and Scholars, Cheney International Center, Suite 5, 1-307-766-5193, prior to the commencement of any employment opportunity.

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