Current F-1 Students - Employment


Current F-1 Students

Employment in the United States is highly regulated by immigration and employment law. If you are considering paid or unpaid employment or volunteer positions, it is essential for you to be familiar with the rules and contact our office with any questions. F-1 students must ensure that they have the appropriate work authorization prior to pursuing any employment activity, paid or unpaid.

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is work paid by Salve Regina or work done at Salve Regina by a company. In order for your employment to qualify as on-campus employment, Salve Regina must be the employer. Companies that work on campus and offer direct services to students, such as Sodexo and Follet, are also eligible.

An F-1 student may work on campus if:

  • Valid F-1 status is maintained.
  • Employment does not exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session. Note: If you work for more than one on-campus employer, the total number of hours worked from all jobs cannot exceed 20 hours per week. While immigration law allows for 20 hours per week, Salve Regina's policy is that student employment work 8 hours per week or fewer.
  • You may work more than 20 hours per week on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the following semester.

You must bring the F-1 verification of hire form to our office before you can apply for a Social Security number.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training is employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum and is directly related to your major area of study. In other words, you must be enrolled for a course that requires a work experience (such as co-op, internship or practicum) or be enrolled in a degree program that requires an internship/practicum.

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Optional Practical Training

Optional practical training is off-campus employment authorization that allows F-1 students to obtain work experience in their major field of study. You are permitted a maximum of 12 months of full-time employment for each level of higher education you pursue in the United States. You can use it during or after your studies and work for any employer anywhere in the country.

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STEM Optional Practical Training Extension

International students who hold degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of optional practical training (OPT), for a total of 36 months of post-completion OPT. Only students who have completed degrees in a STEM-designated field qualify for this extension.

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Social Security Numbers

Anyone who works in the United States must have a Social Security number and card. Numbers are only issued to those who are eligible for employment. Numbers are not issued for purposes of general identification (drivers licenses, tax returns, bank accounts, phone service, etc.).

If you are engaging in on-campus employment, assistantship or a graduate fellowship, follow the steps below. The Social Security Administration needs to check your visa and U.S. entry records before a card can be issued.

If you just arrived in the United States for the first time, please wait at least two weeks from the time of your entry before applying for a Social Security card. Typically it takes the Social Security Administration up to two weeks to access your U.S entry records. Applying earlier will not speed up the process, but may result in a notification that your records could not be verified.

Before You Apply

  • Obtain an employment letter from your on-campus employer.
  • Bring the letter to our office, as we need to keep a copy on file.
  • We will issue a second letter for your Social Security application.

How to Apply

To obtain a Social Security card, present the following documents along with a completed application in person to a Social Security representative. The spelling of all names, date of birth, etc. must match exactly with the Department of Homeland Security's records.

  • Valid passport
  • I-94 card or printout of I-94 admission record
  • Valid Form I-20 (F-1 students) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 students)
  • Proof of employment
  • If your employment is on-campus, you will need to submit a letter from our office or your J-1 sponsor authorizing on-campus employment.
  • If your employment is off-campus or at Salve Regina following the completion of your degree, you will need to submit other valid employment authorization.