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Student Employment

An Overview of International Student Employment

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, uwglobal@uwyo.edu prior to the commencement of any employment opportunity.


Definition of Employment vs. Volunteering

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.


Work Authorization Requirements for Common Visa Types

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.

 

Types of Student Employment

 


Types of Employment for F-1 Students

Working in the US on an F1 student visa
On-campus employmentStudents are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus (paid by UW and/or serving UW students) during the academic term. Hour limit does not apply during winter, summer, and spring breaks.
Note: UW limits student employment to 39 hours per week
Curricular Practical Training
Before completion of coursework/graduationUSCIS definition: “Alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements withthe school." USCIS regulations state that CPT must be curricular (related to the student’s major field of study) and “an integral part of an established curriculum”. CPT is allowed for the purpose of training in skills to be used toward completion of a degree. In rare circumstances, this approved internship “training” can be used by someone who is working to start a business with another person or persons. Cannot be a sole proprietor.Apply directly to ISS. Approval is done by ISS staff and work authorization Form I-20 is issued to student by ISS. Must submit application materials to ISS at least one week before start of internship activity.
Optional Practical Training Two types:
Post-completion OPT is 12 months in the 14 months following completion of coursework (graduate students) or graduation (undergraduate or graduate students)STEM OPT Extension is 24 months added to the post-completion OPT for students in STEM fieldsPost-completion OPT allows the following types of employment:Regular paid employment –multiple employers allowedPayment by multiple short-term employers (“gigs”)Work for hire/contractual employmentSelf-employed business ownerEmployed through an agencyVolunteering or unpaid employment
STEM OPT allows the following types of employment–all employers must be registered with eVerify: Regular paid employment –multiple employers allowed. Payment by multiple short-term employers (“gigs”),.Work for hire/contractual employment
*Does NOT allow self-employment (sole proprietor), working foran agency, or volunteer/unpaid employment. Must have a bonafide employer/employee relationship, so business owners must have a partner, etc that can sign as their “employer”. Apply to USCIS with the help of ISS staff. Approval is doneby USCIS and work authorization documents are issued by USCIS. May apply up to 90 days before completion of coursework/graduation, and up to 60 days after completion/graduation. No employment is allowed between graduation date and start date of OPT. Approval takes approximately 90 days (three months).

On-campus J-1 Student Work Authorization


On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment for students in both J and F student visa statuses has very similar regulations. Generally, it

  1. Does not require authorization from USCIS.
  2. Requires that the student must be in a full course of study and in good academic standing.
  3. Requires that on-campus employment primarily means work performed on UW's premises and not work for a different commercial firm on-campus that isn't providing services for students.
  4. Is limited to 20 hours/week while school is in session and full-time (40 hours/week) during vacation periods.
  5. Is not permitted after student has completed studies (graduated)
  6. Requires that students in J visa status must get written authorization to work from their sponsoring agency if not UW.
  7. Requires that students in J visa status receive approval from ISS before beginning work so that the SEVIS system can be updated appropriately. (J-1 ap doc link)
  8. Does not require students in F visa status to receive approval from ISS or USCIS.


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:

  • While classes are in session, the student cannot work more than 20 hours combined for all positions held with UW.
  • The student must maintain full-time enrollment.
  • The student cannot work past his/her actual graduation date unless he/she has obtained an extended status through ISS and has provided the documentation to HR, or has obtained a special work authorization document from USCIS such as OPT or hardship work authorization.

*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 (139 Wyo 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.


J-1 Academic Training

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.

Eligibility:

  • Student's primary purpose in the U.S. must be to study rather than be employed.
  • Student must be in good academic standing at the school named on the Form DS-2019.
  • The proposed employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study.
  • The Academic Training must have the approval of the academic advisor and the RO.
  • Throughout the Academic Training period, the student must maintain permission to remain in the U.S. (maintain J-1 student status) and apply for extensions as necessary.
  • Student must maintain health insurance and medical evacuation/repatriation coverage for him/herself and any J-2 dependents through the Academic Training period.
  • Student must always keep their current address on file with the Responsible Officer.


General Limitations:

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.

The Application:

Application Packet

  1. A student must obtain a letter of offer from a prospective employer that includes: a job title, a brief description of the "goals and objectives" of the "Training Program" (i.e., employment), the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, the name and address of the "training supervisor" and the salary amount to be paid to insure that personal living expense obligations can be met. 
  2. All elements must be present in order for the employer's letter to be acceptable. 
  3. Employer's letter must be presented to a student's academic adviser for use in writing to UW's J-1 Responsible Officer recommending the Academic Training. The adviser will then write a letter of support tying the request for Academic Training to the student's educational objectives at the University of Wyoming. According to the text of the federal regulations, the academic adviser's letter must set forth: the goals and objectives of the specific training program, a description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, the number of hours per week, and the dates of training, how the training relates to the student's major field of study, and why the training will serve as an integral or critical part of the student's academic program.  The academic adviser must also approve Academic Training "for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training." 
  4. When the academic adviser's recommendation is ready, the study should make an appointment with the J-1 Responsible Officer and bring the offer letter, adviser's letter, passport, I-94 card, and DS-2019 to the appointment. 
  5. The J-1 Responsible Officer must evaluate the Academic Training program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, a letter of approval will be written that will serve as the official work authorization document. At this same time, an extended DS-2019 will be issued. 
  6. Academic Training must be applied for and approved no later than 30 days after completion of studies and BEFORE the J-1 student begins his/her employment.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

 

Contact Us

University of Wyoming International Students and Scholars

Department 3228

1000 E. University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-5193

Email: uwglobal@uwyo.edu

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