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Employment

Informed Professional Opportunities

As an F-1 student you are allowed to work on-campus (without authorization) and off-campus (with authorization). It's important to speak with your international student advisor before accepting any type of employment to determine if it is allowed. Below you'll find important information about finding and keeping a job in the United States.

What's a Social Security Number?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number used for tax purposes and to record your earned wages. Obtaining a social security number is required to any type of employment, on and off-campus.

Who can apply

  • F-1 student working on-campus
  • F-1 students authorized for:
    • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Documents needed to apply for an SSN

On-campus employment

Off-campus employment (CPT)

OPT
Students who are applying for OPT may also apply for an SSN on the Form I-765. If you did not apply for a SSN the same time your completed the Form I-765, you will need to visit a local Social Security office and submit the following:

Types of Employment & Other Information

On-campus

As an international student, you are legally eligible to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the semester and more than 20 hours per week during semester breaks.

1. Find a job
If you would like an on-campus job, contact the SFC Career Center where they can help you with resume development and finding offices that are hiring international students. You can also log on to your MySFC portal and select the "Career Center" tab where you will be able to see on-campus job postings.

Keep in mind that some offices may only hire students who have “Work-Study” available. Work-Study is a federal grant provided to colleges and universities to pay U.S. citizens and permanent residences for on-campus jobs. As an international student, you would not be eligible for Work-Study.

2. Social Security Number (SSN)
In order to get paid, you need a Social Security Number (SSN). In order to get an SSN, you need an on-campus job. If you already have a SSN, you may skip this step and continue to step 3. If you have already secured an on-campus job, have the department supervisor type out a job offer letter for you. The information below is required by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Please have the person who hired you type an on-campus job offer letter for you:

  • Your name (must match your passport exactly)
  • Your date of birth (ex. January 1, 2020)
  • Student job title
  • Description of job duties (may be one or two sentences)
  • Start date
  • SFC ID
  • SFC tax ID (EIN)
  • Number of hours per week
  • Supervisor name
  • Supervisor title
  • Supervisor phone
  • Supervisor email
  • Supervisor signature

Once you have received the on-campus job offer letter, bring it back to ISS in room 803R where your Designated School Official (DSO) will provide you with another letter.

After you have obtained the two letters (person who hired you and your international student advisor (DSO)), bring the following to the address below:

Social Security Administration (SSA)
154 Pierrepont Street
6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

3. Student Employment Referral & Authorization to Work
This form can be found through the MySFC portal by selecting the "Career Center" tab. This form must be completed in the following steps:

  1. Complete the student section of the form
  2. Have the person who hired you and will be supervising you complete the next section
  3. Have the Bursar complete their section
  4. Finally, bring the form to the Career Center for a signature

4. Tax forms

If you need help completing the W-4, the below link can provide you with step-by-step instructions to assist you.

Notice 1392, Supplemental Form W-4 Instructions for Nonresident Aliens.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is normally used after you complete your program of study. It is authorized training approved by USCIS for employment directly related to your major. There are a wide range of employment types, including multiple employers while on OPT and paid or unpaid employment.

Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week).

Employment types
Paid employment

  • Multiple employers
    ○ Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists)
    ○ Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
  • Work for hire
    ○ This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner
    ○ Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that they have the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
  • Employment through an agency
    ○ Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency (before engaging in this type of work, speak with your international student advisor).

Unpaid employment
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

When to apply
The earliest date you can apply is 90 days before your program completion date and 60 days after your program completion date. USCIS will not accept applications that have been received 60 days after a student’s program completion date. Apply early!

Completion date
For most students, this date will be the official end date of the semester. This date is usually the date in which final exam grades are due. If you have any questions about the completion date, contact your DSO.

How to apply

  1. Speak with your DSO
  2. Read the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Guide
  3. View the Choosing a start date graphic
  4. Complete the OPT Information Sheet
  5. Read and complete all items on the OPT checklist and I-765 instructions
  6. Pickup new I-20 recommending OPT from your DSO
  7. Review your OPT application
  8. Mail your application to USCIS
  9. Confirm receipt of application with USCIS and provide ISS with a copy of your receipt
  10. Track your application status
  11. Get OPT approved
  12. Report your employment to ISS

STEM Extension

  1. Complete and sign Form I-765
  2. Submit I-765 filing fee (check, money order, credit card)
  3. Complete G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  4. Complete Form I-983 with your employer
  5. Get two passport-style photos
  6. Copy of qualifying STEM degree transcript
  7. Copy of diploma
  8. Copy of all previous I-20s
  9. Copy of most recent I-94
  10. Copy of passport biographical page
  11. Copy of F-1 visa (if applicable) (expired or valid)
  12. Copy of all previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
  13. Copy of new STEM extension I-20

Once you have the necessary documents above:

  • Check all documents for completeness and accuracy
  • Be sure to sign Forms I-20, I-765, I-983, and G-1450 (if used)
  • Make a copy of completed application packet for your records
  • Mail completed application packet to the appropriate address

H-1B Cap-Gap extension

Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the cap-gap period. This is referred to as filling the "cap-gap," meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the "gap" between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.

Eligibility for an extension
H-1B petitions that are timely filed for an eligible F-1 student that request a change of status to H-1B on October 1 qualify for a cap-gap extension.

Timely filed means that the H-1B petition (indicating change of status rather than consular processing) was filed during the H-1B acceptance period which begins April 1 while the student's authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect (including any period of time during the academic course of study, any authorized periods of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), and the 60-day departure preparation period commonly known as the "grace period").

Once the petitioner timely files a request to change status to H-1B on October 1, the automatic cap-gap extension will begin. If the student’s H-1B petition is selected and approved, the student’s extension of status will continue through September 30. The extension of status will automatically terminate if the student’s H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, rejected, or is not selected, or if the change of status request is denied or withdrawn even if the H-1B petition is approved for consular processing. The student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date the extension of status terminated or their program end date, whichever is later, to depart the United States.

Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap-gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing.

Please note: F-1 students who have entered the 60-day grace period are not authorized to work. If an H‑1B cap-subject petition is filed for a student who has entered the 60-day grace period, the student will receive the automatic extension of his or her F-1 status, but will not be authorized to work since the student was not authorized to work at the time H-1B petition was filed.

The above explanation comes directly from the USCIS definition and eligibility requirements for a cap-gap extension.

Taxes

Everyone files
If you held F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status for any amount of time in 2020, it is your legal obligation to file at least one tax form with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS)--even if you did not earn any money in the United States.

Did you earn money from a U.S. source in 2020?
Source income includes:

  • salary/employment wages (earned on- or off-campus)
  • scholarships/grants exceeding the cost of tuition, fees, and books (athletic stipends usually fall into this category)
  • fellowships/assistantships
  • prizes or awards

Instructions for those with NO U.S. source income in 2020
If you did not receive any U.S. source income in 2020, you are required to complete and file the Form 8843 ONLY.

If you already have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), you need to list it on the Form 8843. If you do not have either, it is not required to file the Form 8843.

Steps

  1. Complete and sign the Form 8843
  2. Attach copies of:
    a. Passport
    b. Visa
    c. I-94
    d. Form I-20
  3. Mail by April 15, 2021 to:

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service Center
Austin, TX 73301-0215

Instructions for those WITH U.S. source income for 2020

Answer these questions to determine your next steps.

1. Did you receive income from a U.S. source in 2020 (see definitions above for what source income includes)?
If yes, go to question 2.
If no, see steps above for instructions for those with no U.S. source income in 2020.

2. What type of non-immigrant status did you hold in 2020?
If it was in F-1 student status, go to question 3.

3. Prior to 2020, how many total calendar years have you been in F-1 status in the U.S.?
If it was 1 year or less, submit Form 1040NR (or Form 1040NR-EZ) AND Form 8843. See “Next steps” below.

If it was 2-5 years, submit Form 1040NR (or Form 1040NR-EZ) AND Form 8843. See “Next steps” below.

If it was for 6 or more years, go to question 4. See “Next steps” below.

4. According to the Substantial Presence Test (SPT), were you physically present in the United States for 183 days or more in 2020?
Substantial Presence Test calculations:
Number of days present in 2020 _______ x 1 = _______
Number of days present in 2019 _______ x ⅓ = _______
Number of days present in 2018 _______ x ⅙ = _______
TOTAL = _______

If the result of the three calculations above equals to 183 days or more, you are considered a U.S. resident alien for tax purposes for 2020. If this scenario applies to you, you need to file Form 1040.

U.S. resident aliens are taxed on their worldwide income and file the same tax forms as U.S. citizens. If the above sentence is true, you are not considered a U.S. nonresident alien for tax purposes, you do not need to file Form 8843.

Resident aliens are not eligible to use GLACIER Tax Prep or Sprintax. However, you are eligible to use TurboTax or other like resources for U.S. citizens.

These resources have no affiliation with St. Francis College. Therefore, we do not endorse any specific site provided. They are provided here for your information only.

Next steps

1. Collect supporting documents

  • Form 1042-S
    ○ If you were awarded a stipend for athletics, teaching, or otherwise, these may be taxed and you will receive a Form 1042-S from SFC Payroll.
  • W-2
    ○ If you earned wages in the U.S. in 2020, a Form W-2 will be mailed to you by your employer no later than January 31, 2021.
    ○ St. Francis College: Payroll will have mailed this to you and it is also accessible through your online ADP account
    ○ Outside organization: contact your employer about your W-2
  • Form 1099
    ○ If you were an independent contractor in 2020, you will receive a Form 1099 from the organization or business where you worked. This form is mailed by January 31, 2021.

2. Check if you have a SSN or ITIN
If you received income for a U.S. source in 2020, you need to have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) before filing your tax return.

SSN: If you worked, you should have a SSN
ITIN: You will need to apply for an ITIN, if you are eligible

If you are not eligible for an SSN, you need to apply for an ITIN. To do so, you need to have a certified copy of your passport from your embassy or consulate first and then submit that with the Form W-7. Once you receive your ITIN, you are then eligible to submit your taxes.

3. File your federal tax returns
If you are considered a nonresident alien for tax purposes and received income from a U.S. source in 2020, you can file your federal taxes through Sprintax or GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP). Both companies charge you a fee to use.

If you answered question 4 above and the total was 183 or more days, see instructions for how to file.

If you choose not to use Sprintax or GLACIER Tax Prep, you may also hire an outside tax professional. These individuals are usually referred to as Certified Public Accountants (CPA). If you choose to hire a tax professional, make sure they are trained and familiar with nonresident alien taxes.

You may also be eligible for free tax assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Follow the link to find VITA locations in your area. Not all VITA locations have people who are trained in nonresident taxes. You may have to call multiple places to find a location who will be able to help you.

4. Mail your federal income tax return by April 15, 2021
Refer to the Where to File IRS website for details on where you should mail your federal income tax forms. If you are using Sprintax or GTP, they will list the address where you should mail your federal income tax forms.

5. Prepare and mail your state income tax return by state deadline
In addition to filing your federal income taxes, you may also be required to file a tax return for the state you live/lived in for that particular tax year. Each state has its own requirements, forms, procedures, and deadlines.

Sprintax offers international students assistance when filing state income taxes. Like the federal return, Sprintax charges a fee for this service.

If you choose not to use Sprintax or GLACIER Tax Prep, you may also hire an outside tax professional. These individuals are usually referred to as Certified Public Accountants (CPA). If you choose to hire a tax professional, make sure they are trained and familiar with nonresident alien taxes.

You may also be eligible for free tax assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Follow the link to find VITA locations in your area. Not all VITA locations have people who are trained in nonresident taxes. You may have to call multiple places to find a location who will be able to help you.