USCIS allows J-1 students to work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week when school is in session. Please note that J-1 students will also need a letter from their sponsor giving permission to work on campus, if the sponsor is not Kansas State University. There is no immigration restriction on the number of hours a student is allowed to work during the summer and other breaks, such as spring break and winter break, however there may be K-State limitations. Please check with your department personnel specialist regarding your situation.
The hiring department must submit a request to International Student & Scholar Services for an on-campus work permit. The Request for Work Permit will be returned to the hiring department and then forwarded on to Human Resources.
- If you are seeking on-campus employment you will be required to apply for a Social Security Number. Only those eligible to work may apply for a Social Security number. This will include J-1's, with permission from the sponsor; and J-2's with permission from USCIS.
In order to apply for a Social Security number you must:
- Be enrolled in a full course of study.
- Have been offered employment. The hiring department must complete the "Verification of Employment for Social Security". This letter must be printed out on departmental letterhead. The student then must bring that letter to International Student and Scholar Services for completion of the Verification of Employment Eligibility letter.
- Have your SEVIS record registered/validated prior to applying. ISSS will do this as quickly as possible after you have Checked-In with the office.
You will then take the following documents to the Social Security Administration to apply for your number.
- The Verification of Employment for Social Security letter from your hiring department
- The Verification of Employment Eligibility letter from ISSS
- Your passport and I-94 (paper form or electronic print-out)
- Your DS-2019
- For J-1 students, if your sponsor is other than Kansas State University, you must bring a copy of a letter from your sponsor stating that you have permission to work
Most J-1 students studying at the college and university level can seek authorization for academic training to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience directly related to their field of study. Students who are sponsored by institutions other than K-State should check with that sponsor for information on academic training.
- If you do not already have a social security number, you will be required to apply for one. Please ask your ISSS advisor for the procedure.
- There is only one type of academic training for J-1 students:
Academic Training (AT)
Many employers are concerned about liability issues related to the employment of international students in the United States due to federal laws governing non-citizens. This document helps explain these laws to employers. Getting permission for international students to work in the U.S. is not as difficult as many employers think. Most international students are in the U.S. on non-immigrant student visas (F-1 and J -1), and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain conditions.
Minimal Paperwork for the Employer
Fortunately, there is little paperwork for an employer who hires F-1 or J-1 students. All paperwork is handled by the students, the school, and in the case of OPT, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The cost to the employer in hiring international students is the time and effort to interview and select the best candidate for the job. In fact, a company may save money by hiring international students because some of them are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax requirements.
Practical Training for F-1 Students
Practical training is a legal means by which F-1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their academic field of study. Students, in general, must have completed one academic year (approximately nine months) in F-1 status and must maintain their F-1 status to be eligible for practical training. There are two types of practical training:
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) must be authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) based on a recommendation from the designated school official (DSO) at the school which issued the I-20 to the student. Pre-completion OPT can be used by F-1 students prior to the completion of their studies. Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Post-Completion OPT can be authorized for full time employment after completion of the course of study.
- Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each degree level.
- Students who obtain a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) may be eligible for an additional 24 months of a STEM OPT Extension if student has a job or job offer (must be at least 20 hours per week) from an employer registered with USCIS’s E-Verify Program. STEM OPT also requires students and employers to complete and agree to the terms on the Form I-983 Training Plan.
- USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to students with approved OPT authorization details.
- Must plan in advance due to USCIS processing times (https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/).
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized by the student’s university (NOT by USCIS) for F-1 students participating in curricular-related employment such as cooperative education, work study, practicum and internship programs. Authorization is indicated on page 2 of the I-20 and includes the name of the specific employer, start and end dates, and signature of the designated school official (DSO).
- Processing time is approximately 1 week.
- Processing time is approximately 1 week.
International students on F-1 visas may be eligible for both CPT (before completing their studies) as well as OPT. However, students who are approved for full-time CPT for one year or more will not be eligible for OPT. Additional information can be found online at https://www.k-state.edu/isss/students/f1/employment.html.
Academic Training for J-1 Students
International students on J-1 visas are eligible for up to 18 months of work authorization, called academic training. Post-doctoral students may apply for an additional 18 months of Academic Training. Students should consult with the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) at their institution. Additional information can be found online at https://www.k-state.edu/isss/students/j1/jemployment.html.
Continuing Employment after the Practical/Academic Training Period
Federal regulations require that students terminate their employment at the conclusion of the authorized practical or academic training. However, there may be work visa options that exist for F-1s and J-1s after their work authorization expires. Information can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-nonimmigrant-workers. It is recommended that you contact an immigration attorney to discuss the possibilities approximately 6 months prior to the end of the authorized training period.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don't international students need work authorization before I can hire them?
No. International students must have the work authorization before they begin actual employment, but not before they are offered employment. In fact, J-1 students must have a written job offer in order to apply for the work authorization. Many F-1 students will be in the process of obtaining work authorization while they are interviewing for employment. Students can give employers a reasonable estimate of when they expect to receive work authorization.
Doesn't an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?
No. American employers are not required to document that a citizen of another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under an F-1, J-1 or H-1B visa. Employers must document that they did not turn down a qualified American applicant for the position only when they wish to hire foreign citizens on a permanent basis and sponsor them for a permanent resident status ("green card").
Can I hire international students as volunteer interns?
Normally, if the internship involves no form of compensation and is truly voluntary, the students may volunteer without having to do any paperwork with the USCIS. If, however, the internship provides a stipend or any compensation, students must obtain permission for practical training or academic training prior to starting their internship. Students should check with their employers to ensure that the company is allowed by law to offer unpaid internships. More information about unpaid internships can be found at the DOL website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf
What is the cost of E-Verify program and how can I enroll in E-Verify program?
Source: Modified from “What Employers Should Know about Hiring International Students,” which was originally published in 2000 with a grant from NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII. Revisions made in 2004, 2010 and 2016. Editors: Laurie Cox, University of Wisconsin, Madison; 2010 co-editors: Lay Tuan Tan, California State University Fullerton, Phil Hofer, University of La Verne & Junko Pierry, Stanford University; 2016 co-editors: Junko Pierry, Stanford University & Laurie Cox, Ball State University.
Be sure to also view the K-State Career Center for more information and resources related to employment!