Employment in the U.S.

(Note: Every effort has been made to update the information below, however things are subject to change without notice.)

By law, employment opportunities for international students in the U.S. are restricted. In general there are two types of employment: on or off-campus employment.

Students with F-1 visas are permitted to work on-campus part-time (up to 20 hours/week) while school is in session without United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval and as long as it does not interfere with their ability to continue as a full-time student.  During your vacation periods you may work full-time (more than 20 hours/week) on-campus.

Under USCIS regulations, degree-seeking students who meet the requirements are eligible to work off-campus part or full-time.  There are three type of off-campus work authorization: Curricular Practical Training (CPT); Optional Practical Training (OPT); and Severe Economic Hardship (SEH).  Many students chose to use their CPT during the summer vacation period.

If you are considering ANY off-campus work experience (paid or unpaid), you MUST meet with the Visa Coordinator to verify your eligibility, file the necessary paperwork, and obtain USCIS approval before you begin.  Never work off-campus without written permission, even in unpaid “volunteer” positions.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT)

You may use this hand out called “Hiring International Students” to give to potential employers.

Tax Information

International students with F-1 (or J-1) visas are generally exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes for the first 5 years, but are required to pay all federal and state taxes.  The exemption may apply to any period, e.g., CPT, OPT, in which an international student is in “practical training” or other off-campus employment allowed by USCIS as long as the student remains a nonresident alien for tax purposes (less than 5 years). If you are in any other visa status other than F-1, e.g., H-1B (teachers, trainees, and researchers), H-1A (alien nurses), you are liable for Social Security and Medicare taxes from the first day you change status or are employed.

Please notify your internship site supervisor and/or the human resource department of your current visa status, especially if you will be paid, and complete the necessary Internal Revenue Service  (IRS) tax forms with your employer.

In March of each year, St. Olaf College will assist you in preparing your US tax returns using up-to-date tax software.

Self-Help Web tax resources for nonresident alien student and scholar http://thetaxguy.com/

Social Security Card
Some students are eligible to work in the U.S. under their student visa. You should consult with the International Student Coordinator to see if you are. The ISA will discuss the procedures and letters you’ll need for applying for Social Security Number.

International students can only apply for a SSN if they have a work-study award and on-campus job offer. To learn more about on-campus jobs, visit the financial aid office.