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The United States has very strict rules regarding the ability of foreign nationals to work in the United States. It is important to note that U.S. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the commencement of any employment opportunity.
F-1 students: May work on campus at the school which they are authorized to attend (issued their current form I-20) up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full time during official university vacation and breaks. Students in valid F-1 status cannot be employed off-campus without meeting eligibility requirements and obtaining prior authorization from International Students and Scholars and/or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For information about paid internships, please read the section regarding Curricular Practical Training (CPT). For information about working after completion of a degree, please refer to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Information page.
F-2 dependents: May not be employed under any circumstances while in the U.S.
J-1 students: May work on campus at the school which they are authorized to attend (issued their current form DS-2019) for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full time during university vacation and holiday breaks. Students in J-1 status must request work authorization from ISS before beginning work on campus. Please read the J-1 work authorization information for details. Students in valid 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.
J-2 dependents: Must have a work authorization card issued by USCIS before they can work on or off campus. Those interested in applying for work authorization and download the Instructions for Requesting J-2 Employment Authorization and the J-2 form I-765 and contact ISS with questions or for more information.
Students in other statuses are generally prohibited from any kind of employment, either on or off-campus.
On-campus employment for students in both J and F student visa statuses has very similar regulations. Generally, it
UW Human Resources allows a student to work until the program end date given on their I-20 or DS-2019 document. If an I-20 or DS-2019 documents is extended, the student must take the updated form to Human Resources to have their record updated. In order to comply with Federal regulations HR and ISS will monitor all international students and report any violation of the follow conditions to HR so that UW employment can be terminated:
*Please note that violation of either of the first two conditions will result in termination of the student’s SEVIS record/immigration status.
All international students employed on campus must complete an I-9 at the UW Human Resources department (Third Floor of Hill Hall) before beginning work. The student will need to have his/her passport, I-20/DS-2019, and I-94 documents. Students in J visa status must also bring written authorization for employment from the sponsoring agency.
Consult with ISS for more information if you have questions about on-campus employment for international students.
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).
Remuneration is the same as compensation. Compensation means something is given to you because you provided a service. It can be a paycheck, a gift card, 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.
Can international students “volunteer”?
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. International students can volunteer, but may not receive any type of compensation. Those sponsoring volunteer activities should make sure that the activity is considered volunteering by the U.S. Department of Labor as to not violate any labor laws.
Academic Training is the name used by the Department of State for certain types of study-related employment. This applies only to J-1 students. Certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for Academic Training, and the steps to apply must follow.
Academic Training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment opportunities to supplement a J-1 student's academic program in the United States. It is available both before and after the completion of an academic program of study. As long as students stay within the stipulated time limits, Academic Training allows them to work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances, a student may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while writing a thesis. J-1 students in non-degree programs are also eligible for Academic Training.
Your J-1 Responsible Officer:
To qualify for Academic Training, students first must obtain approval in writing from their J-1 Responsible Officer, an individual who represents their J-1 sponsor and who issues their Form DS-2019. S/he must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of study and individual circumstances and then decide whether the employment is appropriate or not. For UW sponsored J-1 students, they may contact their Responsible Officer through International Students and Scholars in the Cheney International Center, Suite 5. For students sponsored by other agencies (Fulbright, USAID, etc.), they must contact the agencies directly, for only their representatives can approve Academic Training.
Academic Training for undergraduate students and other pre-doctoral level students may not exceed 18 months. The 18 month count is cumulative and would include any academic training that occurred during the program of study. In addition, time spent doing "part-time" academic training during the course of student is deducted from the 18 month total at the full-time rate; it is not prorated. A student may not be granted academic training for a period longer than the program of study. For example, a student whose full course of study lasted 12 months would be eligible for a maximum of 12 months of academic training.
J-1 students engaged in post-doctoral training may receive up to 36 months of academic training, but it must be granted in increments of 18 months or less.
Earning more than one degree does not increase a student's eligibility for Academic Training.
After Completion of a Student's Program of Study:
For academic training done after completion of the course of study, a student must apply to the RO no later than 30 days after completion of the studies.
If students plan to leave the United States after completing their programs of study and reenter the country for J-1 Academic Training, they must obtain employment authorization and a new Form DS-2019 before leaving. If this is not done, there is no basis for being eligible for readmission.