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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

Are you an international student that wants to work in the U.S.? Here’s what you need to know


International students can be employed in a student hourly position or hold an assistantship in the United States, according to the Office of International Services website. They are not eligible for work-study positions because they are part of a federally funded program.

Students should contact OIS before accepting any on-campus employment not paid by IU.

Students with an F-1 visa do not need authorization from OIS to work on campus, however they must follow the conditions of their status to maintain legal immigration status. These include enrolling as a full-time student and working no more than 20 hours each week during the fall and spring semesters. 

F-1 students have four categories of employment available, according to OIS. These include on-campus employment, Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training and severe economic hardship. 

On-campus employment refers to having a job on campus and being paid by IU. 

Curricular Practical Training is a practical training opportunity where students can get experience in their field of study, according to OIS. For CPT authorization, students must be a full-time student, have an F-1 status, have an offer letter outlining the training opportunity in their field of study and have registered for an appropriate course that covers the duration of training.

CPT authorization is granted on a semester-by-semester basis only, according to OIS. Withdrawing from classes or dropping credits tied to CPT authorization cancels the authorization.

Optional Practical Training is for F-1 students who are completing a program of study. Those students may be eligible for 12 months of OPT post-graduation, which allows students to gain practical training and experience related to your major field of study, according to OIS.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for granting OPT authorization. According to OIS, for each level of higher education completed, students are eligible for 12 months of OPT. This means 12 months after completion of a bachelor’s degree and another 12 months after a master’s degree, according to OIS.

Applications for OPT can be submitted up to 90 days before expected program completion date and no later than 60 days after the completion of the program’s requirements.

Students who must find employment due to severe, unexpected financial difficulties may be able to get authorization to work off campus. USCIS grants this authorization for F-1 students.

Those with a  J-1 visa must get authorization for any type of employment. J-1 students on an IU DS-2019 facing severe economic hardship may get authorization from OIS. The DS-2019 form or "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status" is the basic document used in the administration of the exchange visitor program, according to BridgeUSA. According to OIS, it is difficult to obtain this authorization. Students should make an appointment with an OIS advisor. Students would still be limited to 20 hours per week.

J-1 students can get on-campus employment or Academic Training. Academic Training is for certain opportunities, paid or unpaid, in a student’s field of study that is an integral part of the student’s overall academic goals. Students should apply for authorization at least two weeks before beginning and no later than two weeks after completing their academic program.

To apply students must provide information about their prospective training opportunity, confirm information about health insurance and provide their academic advisor with a copy of the offer letter. They must also provide a letter from the prospective employer on company letterhead that states the duties of training opportunity, the name of the supervisor, the location of employment, specific start and end dates, the number of hours of work per week and the proposed salary amount.

Anyone receiving income must provide their employer with a Social Security number for tax purposes, according to OIS. To get an SSN, students must apply in person at the local Social Security Administration office. Bloomington’s office is located at 515 W Patterson Dr. To apply, all international applicants must have a valid passport, an I-20, DS-2019 or other document indicating nonimmigrant or immigrant status and one additional piece of identification, such as a student ID card.

With assistantships and fellowships, the number of hours worked is determined by a student’s contract, not the actual number of hours worked. If the contract states 20 hours and a student has only worked 15 hours, that is still counted as a student’s maximum number of hours because of the contract, according to OIS.

The only exception to this rule is during Thanksgiving, winter, spring or summer breaks, when students can work full time.

Students wishing to work more than 20 hours per week should call OIS before taking on additional hours. Students with any questions can make an appointment with an OIS advisor by calling 812-855-9086 to discuss options.

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