Employment in F-1 Status
As an F-1 student you have limited employment opportunities. This does not mean that you cannot work, you just need to know these simple guidelines.
All F-1 students are permitted to work on-campus at Lasell College. Here are the key aspects of on-campus employment:
- Special approval from USCIS is not required.
- Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session and when school is not in session but the College is still open, students may work full-time (winter, spring, and summer breaks).
- New incoming students cannot begin working on-campus more than 30 days before classes begin.
- Transfer students can work on campus but only after their SEVIS record has been transferred to Lasell.
- Students can only work on-campus until the end date on their form I-20.
- Students must obtain a social security card in order to work on campus. See section below.
Note: Some organizations, such as America Reads, that are associated with Lasell can be considered on-campus employment. If you have been offered a job and you are unsure if it is considered an on-campus job or not, then it is best to check with the Coordinator of International Services.
Off-campus Employment: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students are permitted to work off-campus as long as the work is directly related to their course of study and is commensurate with their educational level.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is an employment opportunity available to F-1 undergraduate students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year. F-1 graduate students do not need to have been enrolled for one year. F-1 graduate students can begin CPT when their course of study begins. Here are the key aspects of CPT:
- CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum.
- CPT must be a requirement of the program of study or the student must be receiving credit for the work.
- The training may be full-time or part-time. If full-time (more than 20 hours per week) for 12 months or more, then the student becomes ineligible for OPT.
- CPT requires a written job offer indicting the job title, dates of employment, number of hours, and location of employment.
- The Coordinator of International Services must authorize CPT in SEVIS. Students then receive a new form I-20 with CPT authorization indicated on the third page.
- No USCIS approval is necessary, but if the student decides to change their employer, they must obtain a new job offer and a new authorization in SEVIS. CPT is not transferable from one job to the next.
- CPT terminates when the student completes their program or fails to comply with F-1 regulations.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is an employment opportunity available to F-1 undergraduate students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year. F-1 graduate students do not need to have been enrolled for one year. F-1 graduate students can begin OPT when their course of study begins. Important note: OPT can occur during or after an F-1 student's course of study. Here are the key aspects of OPT:
- OPT requires USCIS approval.
- As stated above, OPT may occur during or after a student's course of study. If occurring during one's course of study, the OPT is referred to a pre-completion OPT. If occurring after one's course of study is completed, the OPT is known as post-completion OPT.
- Pre-completion OPT may be part-time during the student's studies or full-time during vacations and official school breaks.
- Post-completion OPT must be full time.
- No job offer is required in order to apply for OPT, but students cannot accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment while on standard post-completion OPT.
- F-1 students must begin their OPT experience within 60 days of the end date on their Form I-20.
- The application requires a recommendation in SEVIS by the Coordinator of International Services.
- F-1 students must file a Form 1-765 with USCIS and pay an application fee of $340. Applications for OPT must be submitted three months prior to when the student would like their employment to begin.
- If the Form I-765 is approved, USCIS will issue the F-1 student an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Employment cannot begin until the start date on the EAD.
- OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfer to another school or begins to study at another educational level. OPT is also terminated if a student fails to comply with F-1 regulations.
- F-1 students must inform the Coordinator of International Services if they change or interrupt their employment for any reason. This information must be recorded in SEVIS.
How to Obtain a Social Security Card
In order to receive payment for on-campus employment, CPT, or OPT, F-1 students must obtain a Social Security card. The process of obtaining a Social Security card involves collecting and completing very specific paperwork. If the paperwork is inconsistent or inaccurate, the F-1 student's application for a Social Security card will be denied and the F-1 student will be unable to work.
In light of this, it is imperative that all F-1 students receive all instructions and advice on how to apply for a Social Security card solely from the Lasell College Office of International Services.
A Social Security Card Application Information Packet is available in the Office of International Services for any F-1 student who wishes to have more information about this process.
All international students in F-1 status as well as dependents in F-2 status must complete and submit some type of federal tax form. International students in other immigration classifications may also be required to complete and submit tax forms. The number and type of form you must complete depend on whether you earned income, the type of income you received, the length of time you have been physically present in the US, and other factors.
Taxes are often complicated, even for those native to the United States. There are many different kinds of taxes in the US and different agencies are responsible for collecting these taxes. Please be advised that the Office of International Services does not specialize in international tax law and cannot answer specific questions regarding your individual tax filing requirement; however, the Office has prepared the following information to help get you started.
What is a Tax Return?
In the US, federal and state income taxes are prepaid by each employer based on the "estimate" of tax liability indicated at the start of employment by the employee on the Form W-4. Since the withholding is only an estimate, employees are given an annual opportunity to reconcile the amount of tax withheld with how much was owed. The name of the form on which the reconciliation is made is called the "Tax Return". The federal tax return must be completed and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). State tax returns must be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) and/or to the state agency in any other US state where you have received income in 2009. In some cases, filing the tax return results in a refund because the tax withholding was higher than necessary. However, sometimes a taxpayer does not have enough tax withheld throughout the year so you may need to send a payment to the IRS with your tax return. Occasionally, the total taxes withheld match the amount due, so no money is due by either the taxpayer or the IRS.
When Must I Complete and Submit My Tax Return?
If you earned income during the year in question, all federal and state tax forms must be postmarked by April 15 the following year.
If you did not earned income during the year in question or you are filing from outside the US, your forms must be postmarked by June 15 of the following year.
Who Must File a Tax Return?
Generally, anyone who has earned income while in the US must file a tax return. In addition, all F-1 students and their F-2 dependents are required to complete and submit at least one tax form.
Can I Hire Someone to Prepare My Tax Forms for Me?
Absolutely! Students who have more complicated tax cases or simply want assistance in completing their tax forms can pay a tax service provider or a tax consultant.
Tax Service Providers
There are many tax service providers who market to individuals who need help completing their tax forms. If you decide to use a tax provider to help complete your forms, make sure to ask if they have foreign national tax expertise. If they do not, then you should find another provider. Also, make sure to ask if they will give you a discount as a student of Lasell College.
Tax Consultants and Tax Attorneys
You also have the option of hiring a lawyer to assist you in reporting your taxes and to file your forms. If you choose to hire a private agency or lawyer, we strongly recommend that you make certain they specialize in tax issues unique to foreign nationals.
What if I Don't Have a Social Security Number?
Students who have earned income should have a Social Security Number. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you can file your tax return with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) that has been assigned to you.
Where Can I Get More Information?
The IRS has designed a section of their official website specifically to assist international students and scholars in completing tax returns at the following link:
Federal Tax Returns: You can visit the Boston Office of the IRS from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Federal Building in Government Center on the 7th floor. This office can be reached by telephone at (617) 316-2850 or via their website at:
Massachusetts State Forms: You can telephone the Boston Office of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR), at (617) 887-6367 from 10 am - 1 pm and 1:30 pm - 4 pm.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators