Office of Global Citizenship
What is Employment?
"Employment" is any type of work performed, or services provided, in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, lodging, or for any other benefit. The U.S. government has a wide definition of 'employment', so it is very important to understand the work authorization options for your visa and have any necessary approvals/documentation before work begins. If international students work without authorization, they can fall out of status and risk deportation from the United States.
Students who are maintaining F-1/J-1 status are eligible to work on campus while they remain students at the University. Please note:
- International students are only permitted to work on campus, no more than 20 hours/week during the fall and spring semesters. Students may work 40 hours/week during university breaks (e.g. summer, winter, fall, and spring)
- International students are not permitted to work off-campus.
'On campus employment' is work that is paid for directly by Sewanee or an approved, close educational affiliate, and it does not usually need Office of Global Citizenship approval. For immigration purposes, 'on campus employment' is quite narrowly defined. 'On campus employment' includes:
- Work done on campus and paid for by the University directly
- Work done at an off campus location that is paid for by the University directly (such as research at Sewanee facility in a different city)
- Work done on school premises that provides direct service to students (such as working in the bookstore or McClurg)
- Work performed on or off campus at an approved, close educational affiliate of the University may also be accepted. You must meet with the Office of Global Citizenship before accepting this kind of employment.
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns without additional authorization, where this practice does not violate U.S. labor law. Refusing or delaying payment to make a position "unpaid" is considered a violation of your F-1 or J-1 student status.
Unpaid internships are a very specific type of opportunity in labor law that is of benefit to the intern and not necessarily the company. With bona fide unpaid internships, neither an international or domestic student would get paid. If you are changing anything about the opportunity to “make” it an unpaid internship, or if you will eventually get paid for doing the same job, then it is most likely not a bona fide unpaid internship and you would need approved work authorization to do it.
If it is truly an unpaid internship, you do not need work authorization for it. It is recommended that you keep thorough documentation, such as a copy of the original position posting and/or a letter from the organization, showing that the position is a true unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity.
See the Department of Labor Unpaid Internship Factsheet for more information.
Unpaid Work for the University
Any potential unpaid work for a Sewanee faculty member or department must also meet the unpaid work criteria stipulated on the Department of Labor fact sheet listed above. Taking an unpaid job for which you should receive compensation would be a violation of both immigration and labor law. If you are offered an unpaid research opportunity at Sewanee, you must check with the Department Chair to confirm: 1) Whether or not it is a bona fide unpaid internship opportunity, and 2) Whether or not the proposed unpaid employment would violate labor law.
A student who receives a grant, stipend or scholarship is not considered to be employed under that award, even if service, research, or other requirements are a condition of the award being made.
On-campus jobs and internships can be found through your department, by networking with professors and friends, and through HandShake and The Sewanee Career Center. Review the jobs closely to see which opportunities are considered 'on campus' for immigration purposes, and which are off campus and will require CPT authorization.
Before applying for any job, we highly recommend utilizing the resources at the Career Center. The staff there can help students with resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, applying to graduate school, and much more!
Visit our Social Security Page for more information about applying for a Social Security Card.
Please note: You must RECEIVE your social security card before beginning employment of any kind.