F-1 Employment and Social Security
If you are looking for specific information on On-campus Employment, Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training, then please navigate to the bottom of this page to access the respective links.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows F-1 and J-1 students certain types of work authorization that can be used during or after their studies.
- Work authorization is not automatic. Students must apply in advance and wait for approval before starting work. In some cases, students may need to collaborate with their prospective employer and delay a planned start date to ensure they are not working without authorization.
- All employment has a specific start and end date. Students MAY NOT work before or after the authorized dates.
- Your employment should never interfere with your studies. If you find it difficult to keep up with your class and work responsibilities, you should stop your employment or lessen your hours.
Work authorization is an optional, added benefit for students who are complying with all immigration regulations.
Working without authorization is a severe immigration violation that will follow your record forever. DHS considers all unauthorized employment a “willful violation.” This means that whether you did so intentionally or unintentionally, you are held accountable for any unauthorized work and are subject to consequences.
Unauthorized work can be:
- Working without the required approval;
- Working before your authorized approval began;
- Working after your authorized approval ended;
- Working more or fewer hours than you have been authorized to work, if your work authorization has a minimum or maximum number of hours; and/or
- Working outside the terms of approval (i.e. you are approved to work in a certain position but you are actually working in a different position)
If an OIP advisor learns that you have worked without authorization, we are required by law to terminate your SEVIS record, and you will immediately lose your F-1 status and be required to exit the U.S.
Working without authorization can follow your immigration record forever, even if you are not penalized for it immediately. For example, if you work without authorization as a student, DHS may find out if you apply for another visa or a green card in the future. This can lead to denial of your application, and a potential bar from entering the U.S.
If you have questions about how unauthorized work could impact your current or future immigration record, we recommend speaking to a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. You can find a list of immigration attorneys through the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
Other Cases of Employment
Apart from the employment opportunities of On-campus Employment, CPT and OPT, there are few other employment opportunities that are available for international students.
To learn more, visit our webpage on Other Cases of Employment.
Social Security Number (SSN)
A Social Security Number (SSN) allows you to legally work and be paid in the U.S. Your SSN is printed on a small Social Security Card that is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
You can learn more at our Social Security Number (SSN) webpage.