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It is essential that you understand and comply with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) restrictive employment regulations. Ignorance of the regulations does not excuse a student from the serious ramifications of unauthorized employment. You must obtain appropriate employment authorization before you engage in any type of employment.

F-1 Students are generally permitted to work part-time on TCNJ campus while they are attending TCNJ and maintaining their F-1 Status. This type of employment is “incident to status” and does not require DSO authorization. Unauthorized employment off-campus will result in immediate termination, which will require you to leave the U.S. within 15 days. If you decide not to leave the U.S. you may start to accrue unlawful presence that has severe consequences on your ability to remain or return to the U.S. in the future.

On-Campus Employment

LOCATION: Must be considered “on-campus.” This would be any location within the TCNJ loop, and Campus Town businesses that primarily service students (Bookstore, Campus Town Apartments)

DURATION: Can be used throughout the period the student is pursing a full course of study

HOURS PER WEEK: Students are limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and there are no limits on hours during scheduled breaks from classes.


EMPLOYMENT DURING THE GRACE PERIOD: Students may NOT engage in on-campus employment during the 60-day grace period following the completion of a course of study.

EXCEPTIONS IN A GRACE PERIOD: (1) Employment authorized for OPT, (2) Employment between academic levels in the same school, or (3) Employment between programs when transferring schools

Practical Training (OPT and CPT)

Practical Training authorization permits an F-1 student to be employed temporarily at a job related to the student’s major field of study off-campus. There are two types of practical training called curricular practical training and optional practical training. To be eligible for curricular and/or optional practical training, you must have been in lawful F-1 status for one academic year. Set up an practical training appointment with a Arlotto Family Center for Global Engagement Advisor to learn about the technicalities of these two opportunities.

Applying for a Social Security Number (For TCNJ International Students Only)

Individuals who are authorized to work 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 A. Family 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 A. Family 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

Off-Campus Employment-Special Cases (very rare)

If you think any of these special cases apply to you make an appointment with a CGE advisor right away! A student may be authorized for off-campus employment under the following circumstances:

  • Severe, unforeseen economic necessity
  • Internship with an International Organization
  • Employment based on the Special Student Relief program
  • The forms for off-campus employment must be recommended in SEVIS by the DSO and adjudicated and approved by USCIS, which issues an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) evidencing the employment authorization.
  • A student cannot begin off-campus employment until receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.

PRECONDITIONS: Must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year; Must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship cause by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining the F-1 status

LOCATION: Is designated for off-campus employment, but can be done on-campus

DURATION: granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter; Authorization ends if the student transfers schools

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 any job; Does not have to be related to the course of study

EFFECT ON OTHER WORK: Use of this category of employment does not count towards the 20-hour on- campus maximum, nor does it affect eligibility for practical training

APPROVAL PROCESS: Must apply for EAD from USCIS after DSO updates SEVIS with recommendation