Employment - On-campus Employment

F-1 students are generally permitted to work part-time on the premises of the school that issued their currently valid I-20, while they are attending that school and maintaining their F-1 status, subject to the restrictions discussed in this section. This type of employment is "incident to status," and does not require the ISP office authorization, nor does it require an update to the SEVIS record.
  • Preconditions
    Eligible immediately upon obtaining F-1 status; no waiting period
  • Location
    Must be considered "on-campus"
  • Duration
    Can be used throughout period student is pursuing a full course of study
  • Hours per week
    Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school breaks
  • Field/level of work
    Can be in any on-campus position that does not displace a U.S. worker; does not have to be related to course of study
  • Offer of employment
    Not required as a condition of eligibility
  • Effect on other work
    All on-campus work is treated the same for the 20 hour per week limit; e.g., a teaching assistant working 15 hours per week can only work 5 additional hours per week in another on-campus job
  • Approval process
    Employment is "incident to status," and does not require approval from the ISP office or DHS (Department of Homeland Security)
  • Miscellaneous
    Employment must not displace a U.S. resident

Types of on-campus employment

A student can be employed on campus in a variety of ways. Regulations permit the following.
  • Work on the school premises, employed by the I-20-issuing institution
    On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the school library, cafeteria, and administrative offices. If the school is the employer, the only general restriction on the type of work that can be done is that the work cannot "displace United States residents," which has been interpreted to mean that an on-campus employer may not remove a U.S. worker to hire an F-1 student.
  • Work on the school premises, employed by on-campus commercial firms
    "On-campus" also includes employment with "...on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria." Exception: On-campus employment does not include employment on the school's premises for a commercial firm that is not providing on-campus services for students; for example, at a construction site for a new school building.

Limitations and special issues of on-campus employment

  • Initial entry students cannot begin work sooner than 30 days prior to start of classes
    As of January 1, 2003, the regulations specify that "Upon initial entry to begin a new course of study, an F-1 student may not begin on-campus employment more than 30 days prior to the actual start of classes." This limitation would apply only to students issued an "initial entry" I-20, during the period before the course of study begins.
  • 20-hour per week limit while school in session
    On campus work is limited to no more than 20 total hours per week while school is in session. There is no exclusion from the overall on-campus 20 hour-per-week ceiling for work undertaken pursuant to a scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, or postdoctoral appointment.
  • Exception: full-time during vacation periods
    On-campus employment may be full-time during vacation periods for students who are eligible and intend to register for the subsequent academic term.
  • On-campus employment after completing a course of study
    A student may not engage in on-campus employment during the 60-day grace period following the completion of a course of study or thereafter, except in the following situations:
    • Employment authorized for OPT
      Occasionally, a student will choose to use optional practical training (OPT) to work in his or her field at the school where he or she pursued his or her educational objective. Although the services in fact are performed "on campus," the source of the student's work authorization in that case is OPT.
    • Employment between programs when transferring schools
      The regulations state that "In the case of a transfer in SEVIS, the student may only engage in on-campus employment at the school having jurisdiction over the student's SEVIS record." The transfer-out school has jurisdiction over the SEVIS record before the transfer release date, and the transfer-in school has jurisdiction over the SEVIS record on and after the transfer release date. (See "School Transfer" page for more information on release dates.)
  • Concurrently-enrolled students
    Students temporarily attending two institutions concurrently may work only on the campus of the institution that issued their Form I-20.

Eligibility for on-campus employment

Eligibility to engage in on-campus employment is "incident" to F-1 status. This means that anyone currently maintaining F-1 status may engage in on-campus employment at the institution that issued his or her current Form I-20, within the limitations outlined above and without requesting formal authorization from either the ISP office or USCIS, and without updating the student's SEVIS record. Employment eligibility ends whenever a student fails to maintain status.

Procedures for on-campus employment

Register to apply for on-campus positions in this webpage:
No formal authorization is required for on-campus employment, except in the case of on-campus employment over 20 hours per week under the Special Student Relief procedures.
Also, refer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website about: