International students with F-1 status must remain full-time students and thus may not engage in unauthorized employment. You may work on campus up to a maximum of 20 hours a week during the academic semester and up to 40 hours a week over vacations.
Following two semesters in student status, you may work off-campus if approved for one of the following reasons:
Optional Practical Training (OPT) – You may work up to a total of 12 months in work related to your major upon completion of studies. If you advance to a higher level of study, an additional 12 months is available to you.
Curricular practical training (CPT) – This employment must be an “integral part of an established curriculum.” CPT may be part time or full time. Use of 12 months or more of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT.
Severe economic hardship – An F-1 student who has maintained F-1 status for one full academic year and is in good academic standing may apply to USCIS for off-campus employment based on unforeseen severe economic hardship.
If you are seeking to engage in off-campus employment, set up a meeting with the Office of International Students Services. In preparation for that meeting, please fill out the I-765 form.
Social Security Cards
Students who plan to work will need a Social Security number for payment and tax purposes. The nearest Social Security office is located at 1101 West Chester Pike, West Chester, PA 19380. Phone: 800-772-1213. Applications must be made in person and will take approximately two weeks to process. The application for a Social Security number must be accompanied by the following documents:
Your I-94 Departure Record (the white arrival/departure card that is usually stapled inside your passport)
A letter from the Office of International Student Services that verifies your status as an F-1 student and that states that you are authorized to engage in on-campus employment, the nature of the employment to be engaged in, and the identification of the employer for whom you will be working
A statement from your on-campus employer to prove that you are engaging in, or have secured, employment
(The new evidence rule does not apply to F-1 students who have an employment authorization document or curricular practical training.)
Social Security will not process an application for a Social Security number if it is more than 30 days in advance of the scheduled employment start date.
All international students who receive any U.S. funds are required to file an income tax return with the U.S. government before April 15 of the following year. If you were employed, each employer should send you a W-2 form during the month of January listing the amount of your earnings, and federal and state taxes withheld for the previous year. Information about current tax treaties and the procedures for filing income tax returns is available from the University Payroll Office. For questions about federal tax filing, refer to the Internal Revenue Service website.