F-1 and J-1 students are allowed some employment benefits that enable them to pursue internships and full-time employment in the U.S.
International students in the F-1 and J-1 visa status are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week on campus. The 20 hours per week maximum includes all employment. Students who have multiple jobs on campus should closely monitor their work hours to ensure that they do not work more than 20 hours per week. Working more than 20 hours per week would be a violation of the F-1/J-1 visa status.
- The best way to confirm if employment is considered on-campus or off-campus is to ask your employer if your paycheck will come from Wake Forest University.
- If your paycheck is issued by Wake Forest University then this employment is considered on-campus employment per immigration regulations.
- If your paycheck is not issued from Wake Forest University you need to check with an advisor in ISS, prior to beginning this employment.
International students require specific work authorization to pursue any employment that is considered off-campus. Please note that off-campus does not only equate to the location of the employer but can also mean who the payment is coming from. It is important that international students confirm from where their payment is being issued prior to beginning any type of employment. The risk to your current and future visa status in the U.S. is too great to risk engaging in unauthorized employment that is not considered on-campus work.
J-1 visa holders always require additional authorization from ISS (or your J-1 sponsor) for any type of employment.
We understand that some students may work on the WFU Reynolda campus as well as the WFU Health Sciences campus. Our university legal counsel has reviewed the relationship between WFU Reynolda and WFU Health Sciences and has confirmed that employment between the WFU Health Sciences and WFU Reynolda campuses is considered on-campus employment.
International students should always check with ISS prior to beginning any employment. Remember we want to help you protect your visa status as well as options for future visa statuses.
New students/transferring students to WFU:
You may begin working on campus after your transfer release date and only if WFU has issued your new I-20 and you have the I-20 in hand.
Students transferring out of WFU:
All on-campus employment at WFU must end on or before your transfer release date. You cannot begin employment at your new school until your F-1 record has been released to your new school and the new school has issued your I-20.
Applications for on-campus employment are made through individual offices and departments. Your hiring manager should notify WFU Human Resources as soon as you receive an offer of employment.
Curricular Practical Training
CPT is a benefit of the F visa status for those currently enrolled in full-time degree-seeking programs. CPT allows students to pursue off-campus internships in their field of academic study. CPT must be pre-approved by a Designated School Official in the Center for Immigration Services & Support. An offer of employment is required.
Optional Practical Training
OPT is a benefit of the F visa status. OPT provides students with 12 months to pursue full-time employment in their field of academic study. OPT can be pursued pre and/or post-graduation. Applications must be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval, a process that can take 2-3 months. An offer of employment is not required.
Academic Training is a benefit of the J visa status. Academic Training provides students with the opportunity to pursue internships or employment that relate to their course of study. Academic Training can be pursued pre and/or post-graduation. Applications for Academic Training are submitted to the Center for Immigration Services & Support. An offer of employment is required.
Other Types of Employment
Many students wish to engage in volunteer work or unpaid employment. It is very important that you understand what types of activities are considered volunteer experiences. Some unpaid employment may actually be considered employment that requires work authorization.
What is volunteering?
According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is: an “individual who performs hours of service for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.
Your activity may be considered as volunteering if:
- You do not expect compensation now or in the future.
- You do not expect to obtain future employment with the organization.
- Your employer is not providing the volunteer experience to avoid paying you.
- You are not volunteering solely for the purpose of adding these skills to your resume.
- You are providing services strictly for humanitarian purposes.
- You can obtain a letter that indicates that you are a volunteer
You can volunteer at:
- Animal Rescue Shelters
- Food Pantries
- Habitat for Humanity
- Homeless Shelters or Soup Kitchens
If any of these statements are true then your activity is likely to be considered a volunteer experience.
Unpaid employment at a for-profit business is not volunteering.
If the activity you are doing as a volunteer is later determined to be employment by the U.S. Government you could be denied future visa benefits and/or statuses such as H-1B or Permanent Resident.
If you are unsure if a volunteer position needs authorization, it is your responsibility to speak with ISS before engaging in the activity.
What is unpaid employment?
- Are other employees doing the same work and being paid?
- Are you receiving any other compensation (housing, meals, irregular compensation)?
- Do you expect to receive compensation in the future?
- Is your intention to acquire employment, or professional skills in the future?
If you answered any of these questions with a ‘yes’ then you may need employment authorization for this experience.
Any unauthorized employment activity is considered a violation of your F-1 visa status and may result in termination of your F-1 visa status.
Many students will list their unpaid employment experiences on their resumes. This may affect your future visa status eligibility if the unpaid activity is considered employment that should have been authorized. ISS cannot backdate employment authorization.