Student Employment Overview

While the primary focus of international students on the F-1 or J-1 visa programs should always be on completion of the academic course of study, international students can sometimes work in the United States, subject to certain conditions. This page will give a broad overview of the different types of work authorization available to international students on the F-1 or J-1 programs.

Links on the sidebar lead to more in-depth coverage of student-employment related topics.

On-Campus Employment Overview

International students in F-1 or J-1 status enrolled in academic courses are allowed to work part time, up to 20 hours per week, on-campus during the academic year and full-time, 40 hours per week, during summer vacation when not in enrolled in summer classes. If you are enrolled in a class or classes in the summer, you may work up to 20 hours per week on-campus; see here for details. A social security number is required for payroll and tax withholding purposes.

  • Additional immigration authorization is not required for on-campus employment.
  • Financial need is not necessary.

Click Here to View All Open Student Positions on Hire-A-Niner

The ISSO cannot assist students with securing on-campus jobs or employment. In the U.S., college-aged students are responsible for searching for a suitable job, applying for jobs they are interested in, and, if offered a position, executing job responsibilities with a high degree of independence. Once an international student has secured an on-campus job, the ISSO is happy to assist with the visa-related implications associated with having an on-campus job.

On-Campus Employment: Completing the I-9 Process

After you have been offered a job, there are several steps you must complete to establish employment eligibility with UNC Charlotte. This process is also known as “completing an I-9,” and is called so in reference to the government form (Form I-9) used to establish employment eligibility in the United States.

If you have been offered on campus employment for Fall 2022:

Click Here To Follow the I-9/Human Resources Process

Working for Chartwells? As an additional step for students working for Chartwells, an on-campus vendor, students must get their Chartwells job offer letter signed by the ISSO. This step must be accomplished electronically:

Click Here To Apply To Have Your Chartwells Letter Signed

Getting a Social Security Number (SSN)

After you have completed the I-9 procedure, if you do not already have one, you will need a Social Security Card/Number (also known as an “SSN”). The university-internal process for getting an SSN is outlined below:

  • An employment letter will be issued by the Human Resources Office approximately three weeks after the completion of the I-9 and after the hiring department and the Human Resources Office process all related hiring paperwork. This letter will be emailed to your email address.
  • You must print this letter (in color) and submit it together with your immigration documents and a Social Security application via the Social Security Administration, a non-university, U.S. government agency. See How to Apply for a Social Security Number.

Students who have not been offered an on-campus job or been approved for one of the off-campus employment authorizations are not eligible for a Social Security Number. In other words, you can only get an SSN if you have secured a job.

Off-Campus Employment Overview

In addition to on-campus employment, F-1 and J-1 international students can sometimes work off-campus in certain circumstances. However, authorization and approval from the ISSO is always required prior to a student undertaking any off-campus work. Eligibility requirements and procedures for off-campus employment differ depending on the type of authorization requested, the student’s situation, and cases may be complex. Therefore, it is recommended that students interested in undertaking off-campus employment during their studies and beyond consult with an ISSO advisor or attend one of the ISSO’s many workshops to adequately prepare for the process. The four types of off-campus authorization available to F-1 students are listed below:

  • F-1 Off-Campus Employment due to Economic Hardship – a rare type of authorization that requires a student in unforeseen financial turmoil to apply for a special work permit from the U.S. government prior to work.
  • F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – a common authorization used to engage in off-campus work related to the field of study which occurs prior to graduating; does not require a work permit.
  • F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) – a common authorization that requires a graduating student to apply for a work permit from the U.S. government prior to work that will occur after graduation.
  • F-1 OPT STEM Extension – an add-on period of work authorization requiring another work permit application which extends the OPT period by an additional two years; only certain students/fields of study qualify.

Students on the J-1 visa program also have a similar form of off-campus work authorization (though specific procedures may differ compared to F-1). For more information on J-1 Academic Training, click the link below: