International students can work on-campus only if they meet certain requirements. Also, international students must obtain specific employment authorization before working off-campus. Please note international students cannot hold a federal work-study position. This is because the Federal Work-Study is a need-based, federal financial aid program, which is available to only U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and permanent residents/ eligible non-citizens.
F-1 On Campus Employment
An F-1 student may work at the University without authorization from the USCIS as long as the job does not interfere with the student's ability to maintain a full-time course load for the quarter. Also, it is important that the I-20 is valid and current to seek or maintain on-campus employment. International students can work up to 20 hours / week when school is in session and up to 40 hours/ week during break week(s).
F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
An F-1 student may be authorized to a total of 12 months of full-time practical training, which is a privilege provided by the U.S. government so students can gain practical experience in their field of study. The Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization, and to apply for this kind of employment authorization, you must receive a recommendation from the International Office and file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS. Once the USCIS approves your employment, they will send your EAD card (Employment Authorization Document).
Optional Practical Training STEM extension
An F-1 student who graduates with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degree is eligible to remain in the U.S for an additional 24 months on an Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM extension. Currently, STEM extension is only available for the Master of Science in Cardiovascular Science (M.S) program.
A Social Security Number is a unique, nine-digit number assigned by the government, which authorizes individuals to work in the United States and determines eligibility for social security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not assign you a number just to enroll in a college. Please read the Social Security Administration's document titled, "International Students and Social Security Numbers". The Social Security Administration provides automated phone service 24 hours a day at 1-800-772-1213 or you can visit their website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/.
F-1 students, and their dependents, may be eligible to drive a motor vehicle while residing in the United States. However, those who wish to operate a vehicle must successfully apply for and receive a driver’s license. Driving a car without a driver’s license is illegal. To acquire a driver’s license, you must apply for one at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which can have a different name in some states.
Arizona DMV = https://azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/driver-services
Illinois DMV = https://www.ilsos.gov/departments/drivers/home.htmlDriver’s License Application Process
While the application process for receiving a driver’s license may be different in each state, the basic steps are very similar. These steps include:
- Reviewing the driving rules and regulations in your state or territory.
- Confirming with your DSO that your student record is Active in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
- Waiting 10 days after arriving in the United States to apply for a driver's license so that your Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” information can update in all the government systems.
- Obtaining a Social Security number (SSN), if required by your state or territory.
- Visiting and submitting the proper documentation to the DMV.
The DMV may need to verify your nonimmigrant student status to determine if you are eligible for a driver’s license. To verify your status, the DMV may use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program. To find out more about this program, please visit the Checking Your SAVE Case Status page.Required Documentation
When you apply for a driver's license at your local DMV, make sure to bring original copies of the following documents:
- All signed versions of your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”
- A valid passport and your most recent student visa (Please note that you do not need a visa if you are from a visa-exempt country, such as Canada or Bermuda).
- Proof of residence. This varies from state to state and you should check your local DMV’s website to ensure you understand what is needed to fulfill this requirement.
- If your state requires it, an SSN card or a Form SSA-L676, “Refusal to Process SSN Application.”
- If you are on optional practical training, bring your Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document.” The DMV will use the A number on this card to verify your status.
If you are an F-2 dependent, go to the DMV with your primary F-1 and make sure you both have all your required documents.
After a successful application process, a DMV official will explain the next steps for attaining your driver’s license. It is normal for some nonimmigrants to only get temporary licenses. In addition, you may receive the license immediately or you may have to wait several weeks, depending on the state.Additional Requirements
A driver’s license applicant may also need to pass both a driving and written test. Depending on your state, if you have a license from your home country or another state, the DMV may not require you to take the tests. However, not all states accept driver's licenses from other countries.
- Driving in the United States: http://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/driving-in-the-united-states
- DMV Fact Sheet: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/dmv_factsheet.pdf
All international students must file certain tax forms with the Federal government.