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​Employment for Students in F-1 Status

This page provides an overview of the types of employment authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for students in F-1 Status. SEE CAUTION, ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS AND CATEGORIES OF F-1 EMPLOYMENT BELOW.
CAUTION: Working without authorization is a serious immigration violation. USCIS regulations provide the F-1 student with a variety of employment possibilities. It is important and beneficial for the F-1 student to know in advance the different ways that he or she can work legally. Employment guidelines and advice can be obtained at the Queens College International Students & Scholars Office, Student Union, Room 327.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

To be employed legally, students with F-1 status must do the following:
  1. Have a valid passport.
  2. Have an I-20 from the school you are currently attending.
  3. Follow procedures for releasing SEVIS I-20 from previous U.S. institution to current school.
  4. Carry a full course of study. During each semester, you must be registered as an undergraduate for 12 credits or as a graduate student for 9 credits. If you drop below this number at any time during the semester, you are not maintaining lawful F-1 status. If you are not registered for courses during any semester, you are not maintaining lawful F-1 status.
  5. Refrain from working without employment authorization. Other requirements exist for each type of F-1 employment. After reviewing the categories of F-1 employment below, ask an International Student Advisor about specific requirements for each category or pick up detailed information at ISSO.

Definition of “EMPLOYMENT”

“Employment” is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other benefit for work performed, this activity is not defined as “employment” but is considered to be “volunteer work.”

Categories of F-1 Employment

  1. ON-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT: INS regulations state that this type of employment can be immediately authorized for any student in lawful F-1 status. After you have found a job on campus, apply for on-campus work authorization at ISSO. Students are eligible to work 20 hours a week while attending classes and up to 40 hours during winter, spring and summer recess and vacation periods.
    EMPLOYMENT BY YOUR SCHOOL. On-campus work performed for your school is always acceptable, whether it is employment in your academic department, the library or the computer center. Work required by a scholarship or assistantship is also acceptable; so is work at other City University of New York campuses.
    OTHER EMPLOYMENT ON YOUR SCHOOL’S PREMISES. Work performed on your school’s grounds for an outside contractor or firm is considered to be on-campus employment as long as the employer provides direct services to students. Examples of this might be your school’s food service or bookstore, if they are operated not by your school but by an outside firm.
    WORK OFF CAMPUS WHICH QUALIFIES AS ON-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT. This includes work with research foundations, institutes and laboratories affiliated with the college.
  2. EMPLOYMENT BASED ON ECONOMIC HARDSHIP: F-1 students are eligible to apply for off-campus work due to unforeseen economic hardship only if they are unable to locate employment on campus. Students are eligible to work up to 20 hours a week while attending classes and up to 40 hours a week during winter, spring and summer recess and vacation periods.
  3. CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING: Work experiences that are part of your academic program are considered “curricular practical training.” This category includes internships, cooperative education and practicum experiences related to your major field of study. Students must be in current F-1 status. Students are eligible to work between 20 to 40 hours a week, depending on Foreign Student Advisor’s recommendation.
  4. OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING: After being in F-1 status for 9 months, students may apply for Optional Practical Training to work in an area related to their major field of study either full time (40 hours a week) or part time (up to 20 hours a week), depending on a Foreign Student Advisor’s recommendation.
    1. during vacation (full time or part time)
    2. after completion of course requirements, but before completion of the thesis.
    3. after completion of the course of study.
    Optional Practical Training is limited to a total of 12 months, per degree, throughout the student’s entire stay in F-1 status. There are no extensions.

  5. INTERNSHIP WITH AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION: An internship with a “recognized” international organization, such as the United Nations, can be authorized. Student must be in F-1 status and eligible to work part time or full time, depending on the recommendation of his/her Foreign Student Advisor.
  6. EMPLOYMENT FOR F-2 DEPENDENTS: Immigration regulations prohibits employment for F-2 dependents (spouses and children of F-1 students).

Related Employment Information

EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION: When you begin work, you and your employer must complete “Employment Eligibility Verification” (INS FORM I-9), which the employer retains. The I-9 must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission.
SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER TAXES: F-1 students who have been in the United States less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes. However, earnings are subject to federal, state and local taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be refunded.

Special Social Security exempt and IRS tax forms for F-1 students can be obtained from the Social Security Administration and IRS.

FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS: It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations that apply to F-1 students. ISSO has the responsibility for advising and counseling you regarding your responsibilities. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students.

Director: Patrick O'Connell
Office: King Hall 207
Phone: 718-997-4440
Fax: 718-997-4429
Office Hours: Mon - Fri 9am-5pm


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