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F-1 Employment

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, which may result in deportation. 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

On-Campus Employment

PRECONDITIONS: Students are eligible immediately upon obtaining F-1 Status (there is no waiting period)

LOCATION: Must be considered “on-campus”

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

HOURS PER WEEK: Students are limited to 20 hours per week by USCIS standard, but TCNJ’s standard for part-time student employment is 15 hours per week while school is in session (it can be full-time during school breaks)

FIELD/LEVEL OF WORK: Can be in any on-campus position that does not displace a U.S. resident; does not have to be related to your course of study

OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT: (not required)

EFFECT ON OTHER WORK: All on-campus work is treated the same for the 20 hour per week limit (15 hour per week at TCNJ)

APPROVAL PROCESS: Employment is “Incident to Status” and does not require DSO approval

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

(1) Employment authorized for OPT, (2) Employment between academic levels in the same school, or (3) Employment between programs when transferring schools

Off-Campus Employment

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 he or she receives the 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

OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT: (not required)

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

Severe Economic Hardship

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may grant off-campus employment authorization to an F-1 student as a result of a “severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control”. It is difficult to obtain this type of work authorization unless you can document that the unforeseen circumstances occurred after you arrived in the U.S. and were beyond your control. In order to apply for this type of employment authorization, you must first meet with the DSO of your school to discuss your situation and get the necessary recommendation.

In order to apply for economic hardship work authorization, the following should be submitted to the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the student’s current place of residence:

  • Form I-765, completed by the student, marked with the code “( c ) ( 3 ) ( iii )” at Item 16
  • The Form I-765 processing fee
  • A copy of the Form I-20 issued with the DSO recommendation for economic hardship employment
  • 2 passport-styled photos
  • A copy of the student’s I-94 (front and back)
  • A letter from the student (and an optional letter from the DSO) explaining the circumstances of the hardship. Some USCIS Service Centers also require the student to submit supporting materials documenting the unforeseen nature of the economic hardship and, to the extent possible, the unavailability of on-campus employment to meet the need:
    •The student should write a statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, should attach backup documentation; for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student’s country
    • The student should explain why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient (a simple statement might suffice);
  • Copy of the ID pages from the student’s passport, or, for applications for renewal of work authorization, a photocopy of the previously issued EAD.

Mail all of the above to the USCIC SERVICE CENTER with jurisdiction over the student’s place of residence.

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

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..

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: Once you have obtained the DSO approval signature of your F-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 DSO verifying your employment eligibility from the Center for Global Engagement (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 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 – 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
• Since F-2 dependents are not authorized to engage in employment in the U.S, they are not eligible to apply for a SSN. However, F-2 spouses and family members may apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) via Form W-7, available through the Internal Revenue Service.

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 on-campus or off-campus. There are two types of practical training: curricular and optional. To be eligible for curricular and/or optional practical training, you must have been in lawful F-1 status for one academic year.