On-Campus Employment in the US

On-Campus Employment in the US

As an international student in the US, you might be considering taking on part-time work during your studies. This is a good way to supplement your finances.

On-campus employment is the type of employment most easily available to international students, and it does not require approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, although on-campus employment is available to both F-1 visa and J-1 visa-holding international students, opportunities for this kind of employment are limited at most schools. You should also not expect the work you find to provide much income; most of these jobs are not well-paid. Before accepting on-campus employment, you will most likely have to obtain permission from your school's International Student Office; some schools may not permit on-campus employment for international students during their first year or semester.

Rules of On-Campus Employment

As an international student with on-campus employment, you are subject to the following rules and regulations:

  • You must retain valid F-1 or J-1 status
  • You must be enrolled as a full-time student
  • You are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week (part-time) while school is in session
  • You can work full-time during holidays and vacations, but only if you intend to return to school the next academic semester
  • Your employment must not displace (take a job away from) a US resident
    The job does not have to be related to your field of study
  • You may not engage in on-campus employment after you have completed your degree program

Severe Economic Hardship

On-campus employment includes work performed directly for your school, and on the school's premises. This might include jobs as a teaching or research assistant, or jobs in the university library, dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices. On-campus employment also includes work performed for on-location commercial firms that provide services for students on campus, and work performed at an off-campus location that is directly affiliated with the school.

Benefits of On-Campus Employment

  • Earn extra money to supplement finances
  • Good way to meet new people on campus
  • Potential employers look for work experience on resumes
  • Helps develop communication skills as well as various other skills, depending on the employment
  • Helps you learn effective and responsible time management skills
  • Recommendation letters and personal references for potential employers or education

What to Look for in On-Campus Employment

  • The pay should be equivalent to the amount of work entailed—some jobs pay less but have more down time, allowing you to catch up on schoolwork while you work
  • Look for a job that looks good on your resume and will provide you with valuable work experience and skills for later employment (i.e. computer skills, communication skills, etc.)
  • Try to find a job with the potential to lead to a better job—for example, you might start out as a grader, then go on to become a teaching assistant (TA)

How to Get On-Campus Employment

Job-searching and interviewing can be nerve-racking, particularly when you've never done it before. Remember to adhere to the following tips:

  • Don't be shy - know what you want and ask for it
  • Have confidence
  • Approach prospective employers, don't wait for something to come to you
  • Practice answering common interview questions
  • Hygiene and attire are both important, and things potential employers notice about interviewees

Necessary Forms

After gaining on-campus employment, you will need to complete the following forms:

  • I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification)
  • State and federal withholding allowance certificate (W-4) forms
  • Direct Deposit Authorization Form (if you would like to have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account)

There may also be forms specific to your school. Your school's International Student Office will be able to help you with what you need. Make sure that you utilize them as a valuable resource.


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