United States (US) is a popular destination for higher studies with some of the best institutions of learning offering a wide range of courses, research opportunities and vocational programmes that are internationally recognised and instrumental in shaping a student’s life.
For most international students applying for undergraduate, postgraduate, research or vocational programmes, getting accepted to a US university also means supporting their tuition fees and living costs. For this reason, you can explore the option of working while studying in the US to achieve both goals.
The type of student visa category being granted to you determines your work opportunities during studies. Your visa will fall under one of the following categories depending upon your study goal in US and your eligibility:
Different student visas have different rules and limits for allowing international students to pick up part-time jobs during their course of study in the US. In order to work while study in US, you must fulfill the following criteria:
As an M-1 visa holder, you may engage in practical training, but only upon completion of your studies. If you are an exchange visitor on J-1 visa, you cannot accept any form of paid employment in the U.S other than what is included in your programme (academic training).
If you are a F-1 visa holder, you can look at two types of employments:
On campus employment: You can accept on-campus jobs at your university without seeking permission from USCIS. You can opt from the following:
Check with the employer or DSO if the job on offer is considered on-campus employment in case your university campus is spread over a large area in a town or city.
Off-campus employment: After completing your first academic year, you can engage in any of the following off-campus employments upon authorisation by the DSO:
Bsically, these 3 options mean that your work has to be related to your field of study
Off-campus job permission for international students is also granted in case of economic hardship or emergent circumstances if recommended by the DSO and approved by USCIS, which issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and similarly for internship with international organisations like the UN.
You can approach on-campus job opportunities the moment you land at your university on basis of a valid I-20 form issued by your school. For off-campus employment, follow the steps below:
Speak to advisors at the International Student Office at your campus and look for resources online to stay updated on job opportunities that allow working part time while studying.
Unless you have obtained a special permission by the DSO, you cannot take up work in the first year at the US university, college or institution. You can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week on-campus while the university is in session, and 40 hours per week during vacation period. For off-campus employment, either during the course or upon course completion, you can seek authorization to work for up to 18 months or for the duration of your program (whichever is shorter); Ph.D graduates can extend this time period to 36 months.
Unlike American students, Indian or international students on F1 visa or not allowed to take up off-campus jobs like working at gas stations, hotels etc. Taking up such jobs is illegal and could lead to revocation of your visa and even deportation!
“A DSO’s Guide to Off Campus – Application Process,” ICE.gov, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, http://www.ice.gov/sevis/employment/faq_f_off2.htm
“Earning money through internships while going to school,” HTIR Work-Study USA, http://www.htir.com/articles/earning-money.php
“F-1 Student Visa,” HTIR Work-Study USA, http://www.htir.com/articles/F-1-Visa.php
“M-1 Student Visa,” HTIR Work-Study USA, http://www.htir.com/articles/M-1-Visa.php
“International Student Enrollment,” Nova Southeastern University, Frequently asked questions, http://www.nova.edu/internationalstudents/faqs.html
“Students and Employment,” USICS.gov, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment
“Student Visa Process,” hio.harvard.edu, Harvard International Office, http://hio.harvard.edu/immigration/applyingforavisa/thestudentvisaprocess/
“Types of visas,” newdelhi.usembassy.gov, http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/types_of_visas/students-f-and-m.htm
“Working in the United States,” StudyintheStates.dhs.gov, Homeland Security, http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/resources/working
“5 Facts for International Students on F1 Visas in the U.S.,” http://blog.peertransfer.com, PeerTransfer Blog, 27 February, 2013, http://blog.peertransfer.com/2013/02/27/what-can-international-students-do-with-a-f1-visa-in-the-u-s/