There are many hurdles that international students have to contend with first before landing a job in the U.S, particularly due to the limiting nature of a student visa (F1 Visa). The country’s Department of Homeland Security is extremely strict on foreign students who try to go around the rules and seek employment where they shouldn’t. Such students risk getting prosecuted in a court of law, deported back to their home countries, and/or their student visas being canceled. That is the last thing that you would wish for, right?
But even in the midst of all the said challenges, is it possible to work and study at the same time in the U.S if you are a foreign student? The good news is that as limited as your chances could be, it is not entirely impossible. You can liaise with your Designated School Official (D.S.O) to apply for and acquire a social security number (SSN) which is mandatory for any student seeking employment in the U.S. If you haven’t interacted with your D.S.O yet, don’t feel intimidated to contact his/her office now because it is his/her job to make your life as an international student as stress-free as possible. Also, in order for you to have all the necessary documents available and correct, f you are coming from a non-English speaking country, it is advisable to hire a translation company, to help you with the translation as they are very sensitive and minor mistakes can cost you really much. That done, you will be legally allowed to try your luck in the following four employment opportunities.
The 4 Employment Opportunities That International Students Can Pursue in the U.S
1. On-Campus Opportunities
The Department of Homeland Security permits international students to work as dorm attendants, cafeteria attendants, bookstore assistants, and library assistants. You are free to start work immediately after you are admitted to your school, even before you start attending classes. The only limitation to this opportunity is that you cannot work for more than 20 hours in a week within the course of your semester, although this ban is automatically lifted during school holidays. If you take up multiple jobs, then you will have to split up your 20 hours between all the jobs.
2. Off-Campus opportunities
There are two types of off-campus employment in the U.S, i) “Educationally affiliated” off-campus employment Universities often enter into contracts with research institutes in a bid to jointly collect data and conduct extensive research. If your university enters into such a contract, then you are legally eligible for employment within that research project. This opportunity is usually a preserve of post-graduate students.
In another instance, your institution may enter into educational partnerships with other universities or open satellite campuses to support its established curriculum. You are free to seek employment in such off-campus institutions.
ii) “Hardship Circumstances” off-campus employment
If you face sudden economic hardships into your second academic year (first years don’t qualify here), your school’s D.S.O can recommend you for off-campus employment. The hardships could be as a result of the increased cost of living or tuition fees, sudden reduction or total discontinuation of your financial support, emergency medical needs, or any other legitimate cause.
You, however, must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you didn’t have any direct contribution towards the said severe hardship. If, for example, you messed up in your on- campus employment, the financial crisis that would precipitate from your termination cannot qualify you for an off-campus employment opportunity. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reserve the right to approve or decline your application. If approved, you will be limited to working for 20 hours off-campus every week.
3. Temporary OPT
Undergraduate students world over are required to partake practical training before or after completing their coursework. In this realization, the U.S Department of Homeland Security allows foreign students from recognized American universities and colleges to find Optional Practical Training (OPT) jobs that are relevant to their university major.
If interested and have completed your first year of study, you can liaise with your school’s DSO to apply for such a job. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers reserve the right to approve or decline your application so applying doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be approved for the job.
If you apply for these jobs before completing your degree, you will only be allowed to work for a
maximum of 20 hours in a week when your session is active and full-time when on recess. If you have completed your course, you are allowed to work full-time for a maximum period of 12 months.
4. Internship or Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Just like OTP, students across the world are entitled to an internship in order to equip them with hands-on skills in readiness for the job market. The Department of Homeland Security fulfills this necessity for foreign students by giving them CPT authorization. Your DSO will help you with the application process after completing your first undergraduate year.
You are eligible for either CPT or OTP employment, but not both. The advantage of taking up CPT employment over OTP is that your working hours are unlimited.
Whichever form of employment you find when studying in the U.S, it is imperative that you play by the book to avoid getting into trouble with authorities. If you ever need help in the process of applying for student visa to the U.S, you can contact a travel company to do it for you.
Author Bio: Laura is a marketing specialist at SEOforX. She helps her company advertise its products and services and she has a thorough knowledge on developing marketing approaches for products and brands. Besides being a marketing specialist she has a special interest in financial technology. She finds Fintech fascinating and writes about how the new technology is being used to improve activities in the finance sector.