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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.

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.

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 The approval may be valid up to 12 months but is automatically withdrawn if the student’s program is terminated.

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.

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 secure an employment offer

Bring to the DSO at the Center for Global Engagement your TCNJ job offer letter verifying an offer of employment from the Office of Career Services (Roscoe West Hall), which MUST include all of the following:
– your name
– nature of the job (e.g. library aide, office worker, research assistant)
– start date
– number of hours you are expected to work weekly
– TCNJ employer identification Number
– Office address, telephone number, and name of supervisor
– Signature and title of signatory
– Date letter was issued

STEP 2: In order to be ready to go to the Social Security Office to submit an application for a Social Security Number. You must have the following documents:

  • A “On-Campus Work Authorization” Letter from DSO verifying your employment eligibility from the Center for Global Engagement (Roscoe West 202;
  • Completed Form SS-5 (Application of Social Security Card)
  • An unexpired foreign passport (valid at least 6 months in the future)
  • Form I-20
  • TCNJ ID Card or another form of Photo ID
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (marked “F-1 D/S”)
  • Present an “Employment Authorization Document” (EAD) from USCIS (if you are approved for off-campus employment – OPT Students or students with economic hardship employment)
  • Present a “Curricular Practical Training” authorization (if authorized for CPT)

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, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9 am ~ 4 pm Wednesday 9 am~12 pm