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Employment in J-1 Status

It is essential that J-1 students understand and comply with Department of State restrictive employment regulations. Ignorance of employment regulations does not excuse a student from the serious ramifications of unauthorized employment. Unauthorized employment can result in a J-1 student having to depart the U.S. A J-1 student who needs to be employed on-campus or off-campus should read the following information carefully and meet with the J-1 Student Advisor. Students may engage in two kinds of employment:

  1. Academic Training related to the course of study
  2. Other employment related to academic funding, on-campus work, or economic necessity – most forms of off-campus employment require government authorization through USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

Conditions and Restrictions for J-1 Status Employment

Employment must be authorized in writing by the RO (Responsible Officer) before employment begins. Employment authorization is subject to the following regulatory conditions:
1. The student must be in good academic standing at the post-secondary accredited educational institution;
2. The student continues to engage in a full course of study, except for official school breaks and the student’s annual vacation;
3. Employment totals no more than 20 hours per week, except during the official school breaks and the student’s annual vacation, when employment may be full-time; and
4. The RO has approved the specific employment in advance and in writing. This approval is automatically withdrawn if the student’s program is terminated.

On-Campus Employment

An exchange visitor may receive compensation from the sponsor (institution or entity that issued the DS-2019) for employment when such activities are part of the exchange visitor’s program (i.e. a teaching or research assistantship), J-1 students may be employed part-time (20 hours per week or less) on the campus of the school the student is authorized to attend with the permission of their J program sponsor. On-campus employment includes teaching and research assistantships; therefore, graduate students on teaching or research assistantships may not be employed elsewhere on campus for additional hours.

The student must be in good academic standing and engage in a full course of study. During official breaks and the student’s annual vacation, full-time employment is permitted. The RO has to approve the specific employment in advance and in writing. The approval may be valid up to 12 months but is automatically withdrawn if the student’s program is terminated.
On-Campus Employment Guidelines

Off-Campus Employment

All off-campus employment must be authorized in advance and in accordance with specific procedures outlined in the federal regulations. Do not work off-campus without prior permission. Talk with the International Student Advisor.

Academic Training

Academic training authorization permits a J-1 student to be employed temporarily at a job directly related to his or her major field of study. To be authorized to engage in academic training employment, a J-1 student must have received written approval in advance from the RO for the duration and type of academic training.

More detailed directions on how to apply for Academic Training at TCNJ and the Academic Training Application Form can be found on our J-1 Academic Training Page.

Economic Hardship

Students may receive authorization for off-campus employment when necessary due to serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status.


  • Students must submit to the Responsible Officer (RO) a detailed description of the circumstances resulting in the need for employment, including the seriousness of the situation, when they occurred and how they were unforeseen.
  • Students must also submit a detailed budget of their current income and expenses.

This type of employment authorization must be granted in writing by the Responsible Officer (or Alternate Responsible Officer – ARO) before employment begins.

Off-campus employment is also available from the same 20-hour per week pool available for on-campus employment (e.g., if a student is working 10 hours on campus per week, he or she could be authorized for only 10 additional hours off-campus.)

J-2 Employment

Individuals with J-2 status can apply for employment authorization from USCIS. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 student. USCIS must receive an application for an extension of employment authorization before the expiration date of the current employment authorization. Employment is permitted only after USCIS authorization of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is received by the J-2. The period of authorized employment is tied to the validity dates of the DS-2019 for the J-1 student.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

Individuals who are authorized to be employed in the U.S. must have a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to be paid. A SSN is a unique, 9-digit identification number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, and international students who are authorized to be employed. TCNJ International students who are authorized to work can apply for a Social Security Number at the Social Security Administration Office in Trenton.

STEP 1: Complete full-time academic registration and..

If you are sponsored by TCNJ, you must apply for your on-campus employment authorization letter in-person at the Center for Global Engagement.

STEP 2: Once you have obtained the DSO approval signature of your J-1 job offer letter, you may go to a Social Security Office (see below) to submit an application for a Social Security Number. You must present the following documents:

  • A “On-Campus Work Authorization” Letter from the office advisor verifying your employment eligibility from the Office of International and Off-Campus programs and the Summer School (room 111, Green Hall)
  • Completed Form SS-5 (Application of Social Security Card)
  • Present an unexpired foreign passport (valid at least 6 months in the future)
  • Form DS-2019
  • TCNJ ID Card or another form of Photo ID
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (marked “J-1 D/S”)
  • Present an “Employment Authorization Document” (EAD) from USCIS (if you are approved for off-campus employment – Academic Training or students with economic hardship employment)

Application should be submitted to a Social Security Administration Office:

Trenton Social Security Administration office
625 South Clinton Avenue, 2nd floor
Trenton, NJ 08611
Office Phone: 1.800.772.1213
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am ~ 4 pm

Hints about your Social Security Number

The SSN processing time can take several weeks (4 – 8 weeks). You should ask for a receipt from the Social Security Administration when you submit you application card as proof you applied for your SSN (one will not be automatically issued to you).

• To prevent identity theft, your SSN should be kept safe and provided only as needed to U.S. government agencies or credible financial institutions

• J-2 Spouses and family members who have been granted employment authorization by the INS may apply for a SSN