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Employment and Social Security for International Students

Employment options for international students are limited, and working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with the International Programs Office before accepting any employment, especially if it is off campus. It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to students, and any violation can affect future benefits normally granted to F-1 students.  It could also have later repercussions if a student wishes to adjust status and remain in the U.S. in a legal working position.

In general, students are limited to 20 hours of work per week when school is in session. Work can be full-time during vacation periods when students are not taking classes. Students must maintain status in their program of study while employed, have a valid passport, and an unexpired I-20 or DS-2019.

Employment Eligibility Verification

When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled “Employment Eligibility Verification” (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

All paid positions require a U.S. Social Security number. In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. fewer than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes. All wages are subject to U.S. federal income tax, and students are responsible for filing an income tax return each year by April 15, which will determine if any withheld taxes can be refunded. Be sure that your employer has an updated address to send you the W-2 tax receipt required for submission with your federal income tax return. It is usually sent out in January of each calendar year. The IPO schedules a tax session in the spring to assist students with filling out this form.