International Student Employment
International students (F-1 or J-1 visas) are eligible for several types of employment in the U.S. It is the student’s responsibility to verify that the employment is allowable under the particular visa status. To avoid engaging in illegal employment and subsequently falling out of status, students should meet with their international student advisor prior to beginning the employment.
Two main types of employment
International students may work on campus up to 19 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and 38 hours a week during the summer semester. Hours of employment are not guaranteed.
On-campus employment does not require authorization from the international student advisor, and a student’s SEVIS record does not need updating. However, students must be “in status” in order to work on campus and should consult with the advisor prior to beginning the employment.
In order to work off-campus, international students must receive employment authorization from the international student advisor and/or USCIS prior to engaging in the off-campus employment. Please keep in mind that students must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for any of the following off-campus options. Please consult with the advisor prior to engaging in any off-campus employment.
On-campus employment is not permitted after completion of a course of study (other than through optional practical training) unless the student has been accepted, received an I-20, and is planning to enroll in a new educational program at the same educational institution.
*Students attending the English Language Institute are not permitted to work.
Resources & Links
Undergraduate Student Assistant
Students can only apply for graduate assistantships once they have been accepted into their program.
If you need more information, please look below and click on the button which bests suits your situation.
If you still do not see what you are looking for after reading the FAQ and information, consult with the international student advisor throught this email email@example.com
Q: I'M INTERESTED IN FINDING A JOB. CAN I WORK?
Government regulations require F-1 and J-1 students to be in the US for the primary purpose of attending school. On-campus employment is allowed up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during official university vacations and holidays. J-1 students must receive pre-approval for on-campus employment.
Off-campus employment is allowed only under specific circumstances with pre-approval. For more information, refer to Employment Options for F-1 Students below.
F-1 students are only eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) when employed on campus or approved for off campus work. J-1 students are eligible for an SSN based on their J-1 status.
To apply please refer to the Applying for a Social Security Number and Card portion of our website.
Q: DO I NEED A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER BEFORE WORKING?
No, you do not need an SSN to start working, but you need to get one soon after you start. You should apply as soon as possible.
Q: DO I NEED TO FILE TAXES?
Yes, if you were present in the US during a calendar year, you are required to file tax paperwork in the following year. For example: if you were in the US in 2015, you must file tax paperwork in 2016 even if you did not work.
The US Internal Revenue Service is in charge of taxes. Please refer to their website for official forms and information.
Sprintax Tax Prep software is available free of charge to any international student or scholar with a VSU username and password.
Q: WHEN CAN I START ON-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT?
If you have just arrived in the U.S., you can start employment no more than 30 days prior to the beginning of your first semester.
If you have completed your SEVIS transfer to Valdosta State University from another school, but did not complete one semester at that school, then you can start employment no more than 30 days prior to the beginning of your first semester.
If you are a transfer student who has already completed one semester at your previous school, you can start employment after your SEVIS record has been transferred to Valdosta State.
Please note that these rules apply to transfer students whose SEVIS records have already been transferred to Valdosta State. If you have not requested your record to be transferred to Valdosta State, you cannot start employment even during the 30-day period before the start of classes.
Q: CAN I WORK FULL-TIME?
F-1 students at Valdosta State can work part time (up to 20 hours/week) while school is in session and full time (more than 20 hours/week) during the summer and approved break periods.
Q: I WAS OFFERED A JOB THAT I THINK IS CONSIDERED ON-CAMPUS, BUT MY EMPLOYER WILL NOT BE VALDOSTA STATE OR A COMMERICAL FIRM SERVICING STUDENTS ON CAMPUS. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
In this case, speak with the International Student Advisor. You can email and schedule an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students
If you wish to accept employment off-campus, you should pursue Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)].
CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.
Students must maintain full-time enrollment during fall and spring CPT. Full-time enrollment is 12 credit hours for undergraduate students, 9 credit hours for graduate students.
Types of CPT
There are two types of CPT: required and optional. Required CPT is when the academic program mandates practical work experience for all students in order to graduate. Optional CPT is work experience directly related to your field of study that is not required.
Requirements for Non-Required CPT
You must be enrolled in a COOP or CPT course. Designated COOP or CPT courses are set up and approved by the Office of Career Opportunities.
● You must have declared a major.
● Students who are engaged in thesis/dissertation work and have finished their coursework are still eligible for CPT, only if the CPT is an integral part of their thesis/dissertation or research.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT
Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status during fall and spring semesters.
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT may eliminate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During fall and spring semesters, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
● Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis while physically present in the US for one academic year (i.e. two full consecutive semesters) unless your academic program requires immediate participation for all students.
● Be in lawful F-1 status
● Have VSU approved health insurance
● Have a job offer
● Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program, such as ELI
NOTE: CPT is processed and authorized semester by semester. Contact your academic department regarding your department's specific guidelines and follow those guidelines for CPT applications. Please note that your department has discretion in recommending CPT.
CPT During Final Term
During you final semester, you must be enrolledat VSU and have at least one (1) in-person or hybrid course.
If you are in compliance with these enrollment and physical presence requirements, then you may pursue CPT during your final term of study. Please note that the latest possible end date for CPT authorization during the final term of study is the last day of classes.
Documentation Needed to Apply● Job/acceptance offer on company letterhead
● Description of position
● Contact information
Detailed Training Description
Your employer or company must officially offer you a training opportunity. Ask your employer to write a Detailed Training Description.
● Be written on the company's letterhead
● Be addressed to you
● Include job title
● Provide a detailed job description
● Specify the street address where employment will take place (street, city, state, and zip code). If you will work remotely, the letter should specify this and list the company’s physical address.
● Specify number of hours per week you will work
● Specify start and end dates of CPT employment (keep in mind that CPT can only be authorized one term at a time).
A standard job offer letter may not contain the required information. We recommend your employer uses this sample Detailed Training Description.
How to Apply for CPT
- Obtain the job/ internship description from your prospective employer (see Detailed Training Description section above).
- Send the training description to Mr. Darius Anthony at the Office of Career Services).
- Once Mr. Anthony approves your COOP/ CPT approval form, CIP will reflect this employment on your I-20 form.
- You will receive an e-mail once your CPT I-20 form is ready. No work, paid or unpaid, may take place until your CPT I-20 form is printed.
Be sure to sign and date your CPT 1-20 and keep all 1-20s permanently in your personal files.
If any details of your training opportunity change, please e-mail documentation verifying the changes to email@example.com, so we may update your CPT accordingly.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Address Notification Requirement
You are required to update your address in Banner and with the international student advisor within 10 days of any change while you are in F-1 status.
CPT and Unpaid Internships
It is not uncommon for students to confuse unpaid internships with volunteering (and therefore conclude that no work authorization is necessary for engaging in an unpaid internship). However, there is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship. Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s major field of study. The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines for those seeking an unpaid internship:
The following six criteria must be met for an internship to be considered a legitimate unpaid internship (and not employment below minimum wage, in violation of Department of Labor laws):
● The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
● The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
● The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
● The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
● The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
● The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship
Do F-1 students need CPT authorization to participate in unpaid internship?
Yes. The F-1 regulations are written in such a way that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program, and as such is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility. CPT authorization is more than just permission to get paid.
You should have CPT authorization for unpaid internships for the following reasons:
● CPT authorization by the university serves to demonstrate that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
● CPT authorization is a way of reporting in SEVIS the student's activity, employment, and location where they are working and therefore maintaining their status.
● If ever a student is doing a job on an unpaid basis that someone would be hired and paid for, employment authorization in the form of CPT, OPT, etc. is advised.
● If the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won’t be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT. Please keep in mind that F-1 students cannot be retroactively remunerated or in any way compensated for work done in an unpaid internship if they did not obtain work authorization prior to when the work was performed.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the one year of off-campus work permitted for each level of study obtained in the U.S. (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD). Unlike COOP/Curricular Practical Training (CPT), OPT does not have to be included as a required internship or practicum listed in your curriculum. You are authorized to work off-campus in your field of study.
Who is eligible for OPT?
F-1 students are eligible for Optional Practical Training after maintaining full-time student status for at least one academic year (2 semesters).
Types of OPT
- Full-time during the summer vacation semester;
- Part-time during the academic year and;
2. Post-Completion (After Graduation): Full-time after completion of all course requirements.
- STEM OPT extension
- Your degree must be on the approved STEM CIP list
- You must already be in post-completion OPT
Applications cannot be submitted:
- any earlier than 90 days prior to your program end date
- any later than 60 days after your program end date
You cannot have done one year or more of full-time cumulative COOP/Curricular Practical Training (CPT). USCIS must receive your application before the end of your 60-day grace period (60 days after your program end date).
It is not necessary to have an offer of employment before applying for OPT; many students apply before finding a job. You can also choose the date you would like to start OPT. That date can be anywhere between the day after graduation to 60 days after graduation. Example:
Graduation is May 7th.
Start date can be anywhere from May 8th to July 7th.
Your OPT must be complete within 14 months of your program end date. This means, if you start working 2 weeks after the start date on your EAD card, you will have accumulated 14 days of unemployment. You can only have a total of 90 days unemployment; after that, you are considered to be out of status. (Unemployment is not vacation time; it is time in which you do not have a job or employer.)
How can I check the status of my application?
After applying for OPT, you should go to https://my.uscis.gov to set up an account and activate case status alerts in order to get notifications. You can also click on the following link to check the status of your case using the receipt number on the Notice of Action (I-797C).
What is the employment authorization document (EAD)?
The EAD is a laminated ID card bearing the your picture that provides beginning and ending dates for the employment authorization. You will receive the EAD (OPT card) within 3 months after you submit the OPT application. If you do not receive the EAD card 91 days after the date on your Notice of Action, please call USCIS. If you would like the International Student Advisor to call on your behalf, please schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor. The EAD is not employer specific, so you may change employers at will.
Can I go in for training before I get the EAD card?
Sorry, no! USCIS considers this as working.
Do I need a Social Security Number?
If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) already, you will be required to get one for tax reporting purposes. With the online application, you can now apply for your SSN at the same time. Just select ‘Yes’ to the consent of disclosure and provide your information when asked if you want to be issued a Social Security card.
Can I volunteer (unpaid) until my card comes in?
Sorry, no! USCIS considers this working.
Can I travel (ex. go home) while my opt application is in progress?
Yes, though it is not advisable to travel out of the US while your OPT application is being processed.
Can I travel during my OPT period?
Yes, you may travel as long as you have your:
- EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
- Most recent I-20 with a valid travel signature (no older than 6 months)
- Unexpired F-1 visa
- Valid passport with the expiry date more than 6 months after your return
OPT Application Instructions
- Read and initial the OPT Responsibilities Statement and return it to the International Student Advisor by email.
- Gather the following documents in electronic format on your laptop
- A scan of your passport photograph page
- A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Doc) cards (if applicable)
- A scan of any previous I-20s with CPT or OPT information (if available)
- A digital copy of your I-20 with an OPT recommendation (CIP will provide this for you when you are ready to apply)
- Must be issued within the last 30 days for post-completion OPT and within the last 60 days for STEM extension OPT. You MUST make an appointment with your International Student Advisor at the CIP to receive a new I-20 form endorsed for OPT before filing for your OPT
- The I-20 must be signed by an International Student Advisor/DSO and by you. You can use a digital or handwritten signature.
- Your most recent form I-94. Go to https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home and select “Get Most Recent Form I-94.”
- A credit card with which you can pay the filing fee ($410)
***The application process for the STEM extension is more involved; ask if you are qualified and interested.
Once you have everything, make an appoint with the International Student Advisor to get your OPT-authorized I-20 and fill out the OPT application. During the appointment you will go to https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ to apply.
While filling out the Form I-765, we recommend that you use a reliable address where you can receive mail for a 2-3 month period. If you are unsure about your address, you can use our address below, and we will notify you when any correspondence arrives.
- Center for International Programs
- 1500 N Patterson Street
- Valdosta, GA 31698 - 0037
You should also use your VSU email address for the application since you will need to check that for correspondence from the ISA during the OPT period.
Working is NOT optional; you must work at least 20 hours a week. You can not accrue more than a total of 90 days of unemployment during the 12 months of post-completion OPT. When you accept a job, remember it needs to be relevant to your degree. You will be asked to explain how it relates to your field of study. You must stop your employment when the end date on the EAD card is reached.
- Initial reporting in the SEVP Portal and to your International Student Advisor must include
- your address and phone number
- name, address, and EIN of employer
- your job title and how the work relates to your degree
- supervisor’s name, email address, and phone number
- Subsequent reports for
- changes of address, phone number, name
- interruption in employment
- changes of employer
- You will be required to report to the International Student Advisor every six months even if nothing has changed
A loss of F-1 status will result from failing to report at the beginning of your employment, any changes of information or periods of unemployment, or an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment.
As your OPT approaches its end date, you want to consider what you want to do next. You have three options for remaining inside the US. If you choose one of these, you should start working on it well before you EAD end date. They are:
- Apply for a STEM extension
- Apply for a new degree at VSU or another school
- Apply for a change of status (you should start this as soon as you decide you want it; the process can be very long and drawn out)
If you choose not to pursue one of those routes, you may remain in the U.S. 60 days after the expiration of your EAD. This is a time for you to travel within the U.S., pack your things, relax, etc. You can not work or study during the 60-day grace period.
On-Campus Employment for F-1 Students
F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work on-campus while attending classes. The work does not need to be related to your field of study. You must maintain legal F-1 or J-1 status while engaging in on-campus employment.
Definition of On-Campus Employment
● On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices.
● On-campus also includes employment with on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as stores or restaurants located in a University owned building.
● Must have a cumulative 2.0 GPA
● You must be enrolled full-time unless iven authorization otherwise.
● May only work up to 19 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters but may work 38 hours per week during breaks and during the summer.
- *Note: Maximum hours is cumulative, so if a student has 2 on-campus jobs, then the total of the hours from both jobs per week must be no greater than 20 hours.
What to Consider
● Preferably, the job should be one which looks good on resume and provides learning experiences and valuable skills (communication skills, computer skills, etc.)
● Try to choose a job which might eventually lead to a better job. For example, work as a grader, then go on to become a teaching assistant (TA).
● It is quite possible for an international student to be hired as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or as a Research Assistant (RA). Both GSIs and RAs generally receive tuition, a stipend and university benefits. You may receive a GSI or RA award either from your department or another department on campus. For most departments, an international student applying for a GSI position must take a test called the International Teaching Assistant English Evaluation, or the ITA Test. If you would like to become a GSI, be sure to ask the department when you should take the ITA test in order to be considered for a teaching assistantship.
Where to Look for On-Campus Jobs
Go to Employment Opportunites.
When you get an on-campus job, you will be required to pay tax on your earnings. You may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the United States.
Documentation Needed After Getting a Job
When you get an on-campus job, you will need to complete the following forms:
● VSU Student Temporary Employment Form
● I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification)
● State and federal withholding allowance certificate (W-4) forms
● Direct Deposit Authorization Form if you would like to have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account
On-Campus Employment and Graduation
YOU MAY CONTINUE WORKING ON CAMPUS IF: you graduate from one program (example: Bachelor's), and start another program of study (example Master's), as long as you plan to start your new program in the next semester.
Example: You graduate in Spring 2016 with your Bachelor's degree, and start your Master's program at VSU in Fall 2016. You may continue working on campus.
"An F-1 student may only work on-campus after the program end date (the date your degree was awarded, not when you participated in the graduation ceremony), if continuing at the next program level at the same school."
YOU MAY NOT CONTINUE WORKING ON CAMPUS IF:
- you are transferring to another US college/university
- you have completed your program at VSU, and will start a new program at another university
Example: Your Bachelor's degree was awarded on May 9, 2015. You are transferring to another university in the US for your Master's degree in Fall 2015. You cannot continue working on-campus at VSU.
Student Assistants - Undergraduate Level
- All job postings are available online, and do not require you to have a social security number (even though it may look like it!). Each job will vary on how to apply for their department which will be stated in the job description.
Note: Applying for a job online does not guarantee you will be hired. Feel free to apply for different positions that you qualify for. Think of it as practice for when you are applying for jobs after college.
If a department on-campus has offered you a job, then you will need to work with Human Resources to complete your new hire /employment paperwork. One of the items that you will need is a Social Security Numbers. But if you do not have a Social Security Number, what do YOU need to do to get one?
- Let Human Resources know that you are an international student and that you will need to apply for a Social Security Number.
- Apply for a Social Security Number. Use the Social Security Number Application Checklist located under Resources as a guide.
Graduate Assistantships - How to get one?
- You NEED to be accepted into a graduate program as a regular or probationary student.
- Using your VSU email and password submit an application through the graduate assistantship portal, or talk to your graduate program's coordinator to see if there are any openings that you could apply for.
- Get an interview, and be offered a position by a department.
- Complete the paperwork needed for the Graduate Assistantship with the Graduate School, which includes applying for a Social Security Number if you do not have one.
How to File Your Non-Resident Tax Forms
Taxes are necessary in every country one lives in. If you are unsure what tax form you need to fill out you can first check this flow chart.
1. Gather the documents you may need to use Sprintax
Your personal situation determines the documents you may or may not receive.
List of documents
- Visa/Immigration status information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status)
- U.S. entry and exit dates for current and past visits to the U.S. In addition to passport stamps, you can review or print your U.S. travel history here.
- Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This is required if you have U.S. income to report, but NOT required if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file.
- W-2. This form reports your wage earnings if you worked. If you had more than one employer, you should get a W-2 from each employer. It is issued by the end of January for the previous year. Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date address for you. If you worked in the U.S. and have not received a Form W-2, contact your employer for a copy.
- 1042-S. This form is issued to report: (1) stipend, scholarship, fellowship income and travel grants. Tuition exemption or reduction is NOT taxable income or (2) income covered by a tax treaty.
i. If you received a scholarship or grant that is less than the cost of tuition and fees, you will not receive a 1042-S. If you are working on campus and believe you should have received a 1042-S due to a tax treaty, check with your Human Resources (HR) office.
ii. Only Nonresident Aliens receive this form. If your tax status changes to a Resident Alien because of having spent more than 5 years in the U.S. you will not get a 1042-S. If you're not sure of your tax status, log in to Sprintax to check.
- 1099. This form reports miscellaneous income. May be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends, earning through freelance employment
X 1098-T. This form is NOT needed and can NOT be used for a nonresident tax return because NRAs are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits. If, however, you have become a resident for federal tax purposes, the office of Student Accounts has 1098-T information.
X 1095-A. 1095-B, 1095-C. These forms report healthcare coverage and are not needed for a Nonresident tax return.
2. Go to the Sprintax website & Create an Account
Go to the Sprintax website, www.sprintax.com
Create your account. Remember: The federal tax and form 8843 are free, but there will be a fee for the state tax upon completion of your tax returns.
After you enter all required information into Sprintax, it will generate a cost for the service. At this point, you will type in an access code that VSU CIP staff has provided you in your VSU email. Refer to the email sent by CIP staff for your code. This access code will waive the fee by Sprintax for preparing your federal income tax return. If you have questions about this access code, please contact the VSU CIP office for guidance.
Sprintax will save your information so you can log in and out without starting over. Additionally, if you use Sprintax in subsequent years, your information will carry over
3. Follow Sprintax instructions
If You Did Not Have U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).
If You Had U.S. Income: Sprintax will generate your "tax return documents," form 1040NR. If you have any dependents, Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for each of your dependents.
4. If applicable, complete your state tax return
After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return because of your income. If so, they will give you the option to use Sprintax for an individual fee. It is your choice whether to use Sprintax for state taxes or to do the state tax return on your own.
Need Sprintax Support?
If you need help while using Sprintax, contact them:
International students who had income from scholarships or fellowships, and those who are claiming tax treaty benefits may need to apply for an ITIN. See the IRS website for more details about ITINs. If you already have a Social Security Number (SSN), you do not require an ITIN. If you need to apply for an ITIN, Sprintax will guide you through the application process. You may need to take your original immigration documents to the local IRS office for certification. You can find contact information and hours for the Binghamton IRS office on the IRS website. VSU CIP does not recommend mailing your original immigration documents to the IRS.
How to File Your Resident Tax Forms
If you have lived in a state for over five years, you are considered a resident of that state even if you are an international student.
IRS Free File
The IRS offers many options to file your taxes for free. Some options include free state tax return.
International Student Services
204 Georgia Ave
Valdosta, GA 31698
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta, GA 31698
- Phone: 229.333.7410
- Fax: 229.245.3849
Monday- Thursday 8:00 am- 5:30 pm
Friday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm