On-Campus Employment for Students in F-1 Status
This page explains how "on-campus employment" is defined by U.S. immigration, which is different in some important respects from commonly-held definitions, conditions which must exist for employment to be lawful, and employment regulations which cover special circumstances. Please consult the OISS staff if you have questions about this topic.
You may work on campus provided:
- You are maintaining F-1 status;
- You do not work more than a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session; and
- You do not displace a U.S. resident.
You may work 40 hours per week during holidays and vacation periods, including summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term. The 20-hour-per-week limit on your employment while school is in session applies to all types of on-campus employment. For example, a 20-hour per-week graduate assistantship would exhaust your academic year on-campus work eligibility.
On-Campus Employment, School Transfer and Completion of Study
Students transferring from one school to another may only engage in on-campus employment at the school having jurisdiction over the student's SEVIS record. For this reason, it is critical for transfers to be closely coordinated between the international office of the current school and the new school. Please note that if you do not intend to continue further study in the U.S., you may not be employed on-campus after you have completed a program of study, unless you have applied for and been granted written permission to engage in a type of employment the USCIS calls "optional practical training".
Employment Eligibility Verification
When you begin work, you and your employer must complete a form entitled "Employment Eligibility Verification" (Form I-9). The I-9 must be updated each time you renew your work permission. Instructions for filling out the I-9 are available from the OISS.
A Note of Caution
While immigration regulations provide a variety of opportunities for you to be employed during your time in F-1 status, working without authorization is a serious violation of your status. You should therefore consult with the OISS staff before taking up any employment.
Jobs Which Qualify as On-Campus Employment
Employment by the School: On-campus work performed for the school is usually acceptable, whether it is employment in the library, the computer center or the housing office, or work required by a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship.
Other Employment on the School's Premises: Work performed on the school's grounds is "on-campus employment" as long as the employer provides direct services to students. Employment in the school bookstore or cafeteria, both of which provide direct services to students, is acceptable even if the bookstore or cafeteria is operated by a private, commercial firm. Work for a construction company which is erecting a campus building is not acceptable, since the construction company does not provide direct student services.
Work Off Campus Which Qualifies as On-Campus Employment: Immigration regulations allow you to work at an off-campus location provided (1) the location is educationally affiliated with the school, (2) the educational affiliation is associated with UNH's established curriculum or is related to a graduate level research project which UNH has contracted to perform, and (3) the work is an integral or important part of your program of study. For example, if your field of study is marine biology and the school has an off-campus marine biology research facility, you may work there and that employment will be defined as "on-campus".
NOTE: You should contact the OISS before beginning any "on-campus" employment. While employment by the school is clearly explained, the other two types of "on-campus" jobs described above are more difficult to define.
Social Security and Other Taxes
Social Security Taxes: In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.l.C.A.) withholding. Further information may be found in a booklet entitled "Social Security Coverage for Foreign Students & Exchange Visitors", available from the Portsmouth Social Security Administration office.
Federal, State and Local Taxes: The earnings of F-1 students are subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes, and these amounts should be withheld from paychecks. You must file an income tax return on or before April 15 of each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be reclaimed.