Office of International Education
Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, transportation, other benefits, or an experience that you would include as a professional experience on your resume/ curriculum vitae. If you do not receive pay or other benefits for the work performed and the work is unrelated to your program of study and will not be included on your resume, the activity is not considered employment; it would be considered volunteer work and does not require authorization (e.g., working in a soup kitchen).
The most important employment issue to be aware of related to engaging in employment in the U.S. is whether or not it is legal (or "authorized") versus illegal (or "unauthorized") employment. Unauthorized (i.e. illegal) employment for any length of time will jeopardize your ability to remain in or return to the United States.
F-1 / J-1 Student Employment Eligibility
The basic eligibility requirements for F-1/J-1 student employment are:
- You must have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 issued for attendance at SUNY-ESF;
- You must have a valid, unexpired passport;
- You must have an I-94 card that is marked "F-1” or “J-1” and “D/S"; and
- You must be maintaining your F-1 or J-1 immigration status including enrollment in a full-course of study (or authorized equivalent) and making continuous progress towards your degree.
Additional eligibility requirements may apply depending upon the type of employment you are pursuing.
Employment authorization is contingent upon maintenance of immigration status and is automatically terminated with a violation of status.
Common Types of Employment Available for F-1 and J-1 Students:
Can occur on the SUNY-ESF or Syracuse University campus (includes assistantships and other on-campus jobs); the paycheck must be issued by SUNY-ESF, Research Foundation of NY, or Syracuse University. (International students are considered for assistantships and fellowships, but are not eligible for need-based student financial assistance.)
- J-1 STUDENTS: Students in J-1 status pursuing on-campus employment must obtain authorization annually. If you have a DS-2019 issued by SUNY-ESF, you must submit the J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Form annually. If you are a sponsored J-1 student (e.g., Fulbright), you must obtain authorization from your sponsor in the form of an authorization letter (to be submitted to be submitted to the Office of International Education) and in your SEVIS record.
- Off-Campus Employment
- F-1 Practical Training
Practical training is temporary employment authorization to gain practical experience in your major area of study. Accordingly, work experiences must be directly related to an F-1 student’s program of study as indicated in item 5 on the Form I-20 and proper authorization must be obtained.
- J-1 Academic Training (AT)
- Severe Economic Hardship Employment (you should make an appointment with the Coordinator of International Education to discuss this option)
- F-1 Practical Training
International students who meet the eligibility criteria, may apply for non federal on-campus employment at both SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University.
On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic semester and must be incident to status. Employment may be increased to full-time (40+ hours) per week during the College winter, spring, and summer breaks when class is not in session (individual vacation days such as Martin Luther King Day and Thanksgiving break do not qualify). The 20 hour limitation applies to all international students (including RA's, TA's, and GA's) unless a student has been authorized for post-completion OPT by the USCIS or Academic Training by the Office of International Education. Accordingly, students engaging in pre-completion OPT or CPT may not exceed 20 hours of work per week while school is in session inclusive of assistantship employment.
J-1 students must apply to the Office of International Education for on-campus employment authorization in advance of beginning work. Authorization must be obtained for each on-campus employer; information is recorded in SEVIS and will appear on your DS-2019. Authorization is valid for a maximum of 12 months and must be re-applied for every year you intend to engage in employment. Termination of employment must also be reported to the Office of International Education and recorded in SEVIS.
International students working on the SUNY-ESF campus must complete the I-9 process at 216 Bray Hall (exception: College work study students must complete the I-9 process with Financial Aid). International students working on the Syracuse University campus must complete their I-9 at the Slutzker Center for International Services.
Times When Students Can engage in Full-Time On-Campus Employment
Students can engage in full-time work (typically 40 hours/week) during annual school breaks (Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break).
Limitations of On-Campus Employment Authorization at SUNY-ESF or Syracuse University:
- If a violation of status has been committed;
- During the grace period following the completion of your program of study, practical training, or academic training;
- If your SEVIS record has been transferred to another College/University; or
- If you have filed a change of status application to F-1 or J-1 status and it has not yet been approved.
Exceptions to the limitations: If you are matriculating into another academic program at the same school or transferring to another institution (students can work on campus at the transfer-out school until the transfer release date and may begin working at the transfer-in school anytime after the transfer release date).