What Immigration Regulations Allow
International students can pursue on-campus employment for up to 20 hours per week during the school year, and for up to 40 hours per week during summer and winter breaks. If a student has multiple on-campus jobs, all jobs combined must not exceed the maximum allowable hours. University policy requires you to be present in the U.S. to be work an on-campus job. This requirement includes graduate assistantships.
Failing to follow regulations regarding on-campus employment can lead to immediate termination of the F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Not adhering to employment restrictions is a serious violation of the student visa category. You should specifically be aware of the following:
- You are responsible for tracking how many hours you work. ISS does not monitor this for each student. Your department likely will not be fully aware of international student regulations. It is your responsibility. If you work more than 20 hours/week (or 40 hours/week during an official school break), then you are at risk of having your immigration record terminated. (Hourly employees: what you report in iTAMS is an official record and can be audited by the Department of Homeland Security.)
- You are not permitted to work after the end date on your I-20/DS-2019. You should always be aware of your I-20/DS-2019 end date and take steps to extend your document if you will not be graduating and wish to continue work on-campus. For more information on how to locate your I-20/DS-2019 end date, see this section of our website.
- Your passport should remain valid while you are employed on-campus. If your passport will expire, then you need to take the steps to renew it well before the expiration.
J-1 students must obtain a permission letter from International Student Services before beginning work. They should reach out to email@example.com with the following information about the employment.
- Department where they are employed (i.e. Department of Mechanical Engineering; Campus Recreation, etc.)
- Number of hours/week
- Employment Begin and End Date
- Position title (i.e. graduate research assistant; cashier, etc.)
Obtaining the Social Security Number
A student employee without a social security number (which will include the majority of new international students as well as international students who have not worked in the U.S. before) will need to obtain an employment verification letter from your department and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be signed by an international student advisor. A sample employment verification letter can be found as a part of the Social Security Card Application, which can be found on the ISS Forms Library. For more information about obtaining a social security number, see the Social Security section of the ISS website.
Tips for Completing the I-9
It is the policy of the University of South Carolina to recruit, hire, train, promote, tenure, and otherwise make educational and personnel decisions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, genetics or veteran status. The University of South Carolina is intent upon avoiding discriminatory practices in the hiring process. That being said, many students and departments have questions about how to proceed with the I-9 process. The information below is a selection of helpful tips.
General Information About the I-9
In most cases, F-1 and J-1 international students select #4 "alien authorized to work" in Part 1. Typically they should write "D/S" in the expiration date field (D/S stands for duration of status). They typically provide either the I-94 number or the foreign passport number and country of issuance.'
Students who receive a "Tentative Nonconfirmation" from E-Verify can typically resolve the issue by calling the phone number that is provided in the tentative nonconfirmation letter. While it seems alarming, it's typically not difficult to resolve.
Common Documents Used for the I-9
Most international students provide their hiring departments with the following for I-9 verification:
- An unexpired foreign passport
- The student's most recent I-94 (which can be printed from the CBP website. Select "Get Most Recent I-94." If the student has changed status since entering the U.S. last, then they would provide the I-797 Change of Status Approval instead.)
- I-20 or DS-2019 (which will reflect the end date of allowable work authorization)
- F-1 and J-1 student social security cards typically say "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION." Therefore these social security cards cannot be used for I-9 verification. (Source: USCIS website)
The Social Security Number and How it Relates to the I-9
Students can begin work prior to receiving their social security card. Students should not be prevented from starting work if they have applied for the social security card and are waiting for it to arrive. While the E-Verify is typically required to be completed within 3 days of the student's start date, the system will allow you to submit the E-Verify later if you are waiting for the student's SSN.
An E-Verify case is considered late if you create it later than the third business day after the employee first started work for pay. If the case you create is late, E-Verify will ask why, and you can either select one of the reasons provided or enter you own. One of the reasons provided is "Awaiting Social Security Number."
(Source: E-Verify User Manual)
A graduate assistantship (which includes instructional, teaching, research, and staff assistantships) is a common type of on-campus employment that typically involves a tuition supplement and stipend in return for on-campus work. You can learn more about assistantships here.
International teaching assistants typically need to take the International Teaching Assessment upon arrival to the U.S. All graduate assistants should consult with their departments to determine requirements for report dates, stipend information, etc.
Fall 2020 information
In most cases new students unable to enter the U.S. will not be allowed to assume assistantships for the Fall 2020 semester. Please work with your hiring department to defer your offer to a future semester and discuss your academic options with your academic department.
Continuing students who are 1) are already graduate assistants and 2) wish to remain outside the U.S. for the fall semester should work with their hiring departments to determine whether a continuation of their assistantship is appropriate from outside the U.S.