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  • Can I work if im an International student?

    Do I need permission as a foreign student to work in the U.S.? Thanks for your reply.

  • #2
    Re: Can I work if im an International student?

    Employment Issues for International Students
    Source: Bentley College

    As an international student (an F-1 or J-1 visa holder), you may receive special permission to work off-campus from the Office of International Services and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    F-1 visa holders may engage in "Practical Training." There are two types of "Practical Training": Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). J-1 visa holders may engage in "Academic Training." Although similar, "Practical Training" and "Academic Training" are not identical. So we have provided descriptions for them in this chapter. But first, let us define the term "employment" as it pertains to international students.

    Employment
    "Employment" is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, or for any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other compensation for work performed, the activity is not defined as "employment" but is considered to be "volunteer work" (Government Affairs Bulletin. NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Vol. 9. August 1993.)

    For-Credit, Paid Internships:
    Curricular Practical Training (F-1 Visa Holders)


    The U.S. government will allow you to work off-campus if employment is an integral part of your studies (degree requirement) and the work is in your major field of studies. This is called "Curricular Practical Training" (CPT). At Bentley College, CPT includes for-credit, paid internships arranged through your faculty internship coordinator.

    USCIS Eligibility Requirements
    Undergraduates. You must be in lawful F-1 status for one academic year before being permitted to engage in CPT. You must be in good academic standing and the employment may not impede the completion of your studies. You may work part-time during academic terms and full-time during vacation periods.

    Graduate students. You may engage in CPT from the very beginning of your studies as long as it's required by the master's degree program. Then, you may request CPT during your first semester of studies. You must be in good academic standing and the employment may not impede the completion of your studies. You may work part-time during academic terms and full-time during vacation periods.

    Application Procedures
    You must contact an International Student Advisor in order to receive permission to engage in CPT. Additionally, there are some USCIS forms that you must fill out before you begin working. The steps are:

    1. Make an appointment with an International Student Advisor.
    2. Fill out a Form I-538 (available at the Office of International Services).
    3. Bring a copy of your approved "Academic Internship Program Registration/Acceptance Form," a copy of the offer letter from your employer, passport, I-20 and I-94 card to the appointment.

    Note: Make sure the dates of employment as well as the employer's name and address are clearly written on your "Academic Internship Program Registration/Acceptance Form." This form is given to you by your faculty internship coordinator. The International Student Advisor will write your work authorization on the back of your Form I-20 and mail the Form I-538 to USCIS. There is no other employment authorization document for CPT other than the Form I-20.

    Part-time vs. Full-time Employment
    USCIS considers part-time employment to be 20 hours or less of work per week. USCIS considers full-time employment to be 21 hours or more of work per week. If you accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for practical training after you complete your studies.

    Word of Caution
    While conducting CPT, you will be expected to maintain full-time studies at Bentley College. Also, failure to obtain written work authorization from an International Student Advisor may result in the loss of your F-1 student status and lead to deportation from the United States.

    Non-Credit, Paid Internships:
    Optional Practical Training for F-1 Visa Holders


    The U.S. government will allow you to work off-campus if the work is in your major field of studies. This is called "Optional Practical Training" (OPT). At Bentley College, OPT includes non-credit, paid internships arranged through your faculty internship coordinator. OPT also includes work experiences that you arrange individually with employers in your major field of studies.

    Eligibility Requirements
    Undergraduate and graduate students must be in lawful F-1 status for one academic year before being permitted to engage in OPT. You must be in good academic standing and the employment may not impede the completion of your studies. You may work part-time during academic terms and full-time during vacation periods. Months worked are cumulative. You may not work more than 12 months on OPT.

    Application Procedures
    Permission to engage in OPT comes directly from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS can take as long as three months to process your application. Additionally, there are some steps and USCIS forms that you must complete. You should pick up the OPT packet with instructions from the Office of International Services. The steps are:

    1. Fill out a Form I-538
    2. Fill out a Form "I-765, Application for Employment Authorization" and "I-765 Signature Card".
    3. Obtain two "green-card style" photos from a local photo studio.
    4. Write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of your photos.
    5. Make an appointment with an International Student Advisor.
    6. Bring forms, photos, your passport, I-94 card, I-20 and a check in the amount of $120 payable to "USCIS" (you may use personal checks) to the appointment.
    7. After the International Student Advisor has reviewed your forms, mail your completed application by certified mail/return receipt requested to the USCIS Service Center.

    Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    USCIS will send you a small card that looks like a driver's license. It is called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and certifies that you have permission to work in the USA in your major field of studies. It will have your picture on it as well as beginning and ending dates of OPT. You may not begin working until you have the EAD, nor before the start date on the card. If you should lose this card, you must contact INS for a replacement EAD. When you receive your EAD card, bring it to the Office of International Services (OIS), Student Center, for a copy to be maintained in your file or fax a copy of the card to OIS.

    Time Limitations
    You are limited to a total of 12 months of full-time OPT. Two months of part-time work count as one month of full-time OPT. Authorized time to work is not "refundable." In other words, if you choose not to work once USCIS has given you permission, you cannot reclaim them later. (You lose those months.)

    Part-time vs. Full-time Employment
    USCIS considers part-time employment to be 20 hours or less of work per week. USCIS considers full-time employment to be 21 hours or more of work per week.

    Word of Caution
    While conducting OPT, you will be expected to maintain full-time status at Bentley College. Also, failure to obtain written work authorization from INS may result in the loss of your F-1 student status and lead to deportation from the United States.

    Academic Training for Student in J-1 Status

    "Academic Training" is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay within the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods.

    Your J-1 Responsible Officer
    To qualify for "Academic Training," you must first obtain approval in writing from your J-1 Responsible Officer, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Forms IAP-66 or DS-2019. He or she must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. If Bentley College is your sponsor, then your J-1 Responsible Officer is an International Student Advisor in the Office of International Services. If your sponsor is an agency (such as LASPAU or the Fulbright Commission), then you must obtain employment authorization from that agency.

    Eligibility
    1. Your primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than to work.
    2. You must be in good academic standing at Bentley College.
    3. The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
    4. Throughout your "Academic Training," you must maintain permission to stay in the United States, in J-1 student status, and apply for extensions as necessary.
    5. You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and any J-2 dependents throughout your "Academic Training."

    Limits--General
    1. Your employment may be authorized for "the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time is approved by [both] the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer," to quote the regulations. It may not exceed "the period of full course of study" or 18 months--whichever is shorter.
    2. Part-time employment for "Academic Training" counts against the 18 month limit the same as full-time employment.
    3. Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for "Academic Training."

    After Completion of Your Program of Study
    1. "Academic Training" approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of "Academic Training."
    2. "Academic Training" following completion of your program of study must involve paid employment.
    3. Whether the other items in the application are ready yet or not, you must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer no later than 30 days after the end of your program, or you will lose eligibility for "Academic Training" after completion
    4. If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and reenter the USA for J-1 "Academic Training," you must obtain employment authorization before you leave. Otherwise you will have trouble reentering the United States.

    The Application Process
    1. Obtain a letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes your job title, a brief description of the "goals and objectives" for your "training program" [your employment], the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, and the name and address of your "training supervisor." [The quotations come from the regulations]. Make sure that your employer's letter includes all of these details.
    2. Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic advisor or dean for use in writing to your J-1 Responsible Officer recommending the "Academic Training." According to the text of the regulation, your advisor's letter must set forth:
    A / The goals and objectives of the specific training program;
    B / A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training;
    C / How the training relates to the student's major field of study; and
    D / Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program of the exchange visitor student.

    Your advisor must also approve your "Academic Training" for the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training. (See the form included in this chapter. Photocopy it and give it to your advisor.)
    3. When your academic advisor's recommendation is ready, you should deliver or send it to your J-1 Responsible Officer, with a copy of the employer's letter attached.
    4. Your J-1 Responsible Officer must evaluate the "Academic Training" program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, he or she will write you a letter of approval.

    A Note of Caution
    As a J-1 student you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember that before you start any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.

    Recommendation for Academic Training

    Mr./Ms. _____________________________________ , a Bentley College J-1 student majoring in ____________________________ wants to engage in the "Academic Training Program" discussed below.

    Description of the Training Program
    Job Title:
    Dates of the Training Period: From ________ to ________
    Name of Employer:
    Name of the Training Supervisor:
    Address:


    What are the goals and objectives of this training program?



    How does this training relate to the student's major field of study?



    Why is the training an integral or critical part of the academic program of the Exchange Visitor Student?



    As the student/s Academic Advisor or Dean I have set forth the nature and details of the Academic Training Program. I approve of the amount of time requested as necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training. With this letter, I recommend that you authorize this student to participate in the Academic Training Program I have described.

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________
    Signature Printed Name and Title Date

    Evaluation by the Responsible Officer/Alternate Responsible Officer
    1. I have reviewed this letter and determine the Academic Training being requested ___ is ___ is not warranted.
    2. The criteria and time limitations set forth in 22 CFR 514.23(f)(3) and (4)___ are ___ are not satisfied.
    3. In order to ensure the quality of the Academic Training Program, I hereby evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Academic Training in achieving the stated goals and objectives as follows:
    ___ satisfactory ___ unsatisfactory.


    __________________________________________________ ______________*___________________
    Signature Printed Name of Responsible/Alternate Responsible Officer


    [/highlight][/b]Other Visa Categories[/highlight][/b]

    Because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits us to advise only F and J visa holders the Office of International Services (OIS) suggests that students, or potential students, in other visa categories (A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, K, M, N, NATO aliens, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, and WT) consult an attorney who practices immigration law full-time and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association should they desire to do an internship or seek employment in the United States.

    Given the complexities of immigration regulations, we would not want to give you advice that could jeopardize your lawful status in the USA. Additionally, this could be construed by members of the legal profession as practicing law without a license.

    Lawful Permanent Residents
    Permanent residents ("green card" holders) do not need special authorization for off-campus employment.

    [/highlight][/b]Other Considerations[/highlight][/b]

    Form I-9
    International students must complete certain paperwork before beginning to work off campus. The U.S. government requires that a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) be filled out for every new employee. You must show your Form I-20, passport, and I-94 card

    Form W-4
    A government Form W-4 must also be completed by a new employee. The W-4 is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form that is used for tax withholding and reporting purposes by the employer. All unmarried international students without children must claim "single 1" and $4.00 on their W-4 Form. This form requires a U.S. government Social Security number.

    Social Security Numbers
    A Social Security Number (SSN) is a federal tax identification number. Anyone who intends to work in the United States must have an SSN. The number is unique to the individual and will remain the same for life. Students, please note that your Bentley ID number is not a SSN.

    "Social Security" is a national retirement and disability plan run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the U..S government. The government taxes employees according to their level of pay. Employers withhold the tax from each paycheck and remit it directly to the government. In most cases, F-1 and J-1 students are not required to pay this tax because you presumably would never benefit from it. (The presumption is that you will return home after your studies.)

    SSNs are no longer automatically issued to all international students and scholars as in the past. Individuals must show their immigration documents when applying for a SSN. The Social Security Administration will then verify your documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the USCIS online system. If verification is not available on USCIS online system, SSA will contact USCIS. This may delay receipt of a Social Security number by several weeks or months. The Office of International Services is working closely with USCIS and SSA to minimize these delays. It is also a good idea to bring your Bentley ID card with you. If you are not eligible to work, you will not be issued a SSN.

    Please see an International Student Advisor for more information and an application. If eligible for a SSN, you may apply directly to the Social Security Administration.

    Paying Federal, State and Local Income Taxes
    Yes, international students must pay taxes! Taxes must be filed on or before April 15 for the previous year's earnings. OIS will provide information for filing your taxes online between January and April 15.

    Some countries have tax treaties with the U.S. government. These treaties are agreements which basically state, "Your citizens don't have to pay taxes in our country, if our citizens don't have to pay taxes in yours." Contact your embassy or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (in the blue pages of the local telephone directory under "U.S. Government") for more information. Tax treaties between nations do not always exempt you from paying state and local taxes.

    Social Security Coverage
    As an F or J visa holder, you will pay Social Security (known as the FICA tax) if you are a resident for tax purposes. In other words, if the Internal Revenue Service considers you a resident of the United States (even though USCIS does not), you have to pay Social Security. Generally speaking, you are a resident for tax purposes if you have been in the U.S. for five years or longer. Contact the Internal Revenue Service or your embassy for more details.

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