As a Ball State international student, you may eligible to work on campus – and even off campus at different times during your studies.

Only degree-seeking students are eligible to work on or off campus. Students who are at Ball State as part of an exchange program are ineligible to work either on or off campus.

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Rules and Restrictions

Employment is a benefit students must qualify for and where certain rules and restrictions apply.

Included below is a description of the kinds of employment that students with F-1 or J-1 visas may be eligible for. You can learn more about these employment benefits both online [link to 2.2] and in person with an international student advisor at the Rinker Center for International Programs.

International students considering any type of employment in the United States should consult with an international student advisor before beginning any work experience.

F Visa Employment

Students in F-1 status may accept employment under certain conditions if they are eligible.

If you have questions about or would like to determine your eligibility for F-1 employment, please contact International Student Services.

F-1 students attending IEI are not eligible for employment.

On-campus employment is defined as employment that provides a paycheck from Ball State.

Positions include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, some fellowships, and hourly employment (food services, library, etc.).

As a student in F-1 status, you are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full time during school vacations. You may only work 20 hours per week if summer is your first semester at Ball State.

You must receive written permission from International Student Services before pursuing on-campus employment. Also, you need to complete a Form I-9 in your hiring department before working on campus.

Your on-campus employment must stop once you complete your studies.

Apply to Work on Campus

Curricular practical training (CPT) is temporary employment authorization for F-1 visa nonimmigrant international students in the United States. This applies to students enrolled in a college-level degree program.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines "curricular practical training" as employment that is:

  • an integral or important part of your curriculum
  • either required for your degree or for you to receive academic credit

The training must be related to your major and to a specific course that you have enrolled in.

Ball State policy requires students to be enrolled in an internship related to their major, practicum course, or independent study while engaging in curricular practical training employment.

The training can be:

  • a full-time internship (more than 20 hours per week)
  • a part time internship (20 hours or less per week)

Students who complete 12 months of full-time curricular practical training are not eligible to engage in optional practical training.

Course Load Requirements

Students registered for part-time training during a fall or spring semester must also be full-time students.

Students engaged in part-time curricular practical training during summer vacation do not need to be registered full time for classes.

Limitations

Most students do not have a limit on how much curricular practical training they can participate in as they work toward their degrees. However, limitations may apply for graduate assistants and students already employed on campus.

Please visit an international student advisor for additional details.

Other Requirements

Since employment is a benefit for students who maintain their legal status in the U.S., you must:

  • possess a valid passport
  • be registered as a full-time student each and every semester (excluding summers)

have had full-time F-1 student status for at least one full academic year

How to Apply

To apply for curricular practical training, you will need to sign up for an appointment with an international student advisor.

You can schedule the appointment by calling 765-285-5422 after preparing the following documents:

1. a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Certification Form, completed by your academic advisor/counselor, department chair, dean, or faculty co-op coordinator (for undergraduate students in the co-op program)

2. a job offer from your prospective employer that indicates in the body of the letter:

  • full-time or part-time position (specify the number of hours per week)
  • location (street address) of employment
  • beginning and end dates of employment

Download the Application Guide (PDF)

COMPLETE THE ONLINE OPT APPLICATION FORM

 

Optional practical training is a benefit of F-1 student status. It allows you to work off campus in your academic major’s career field.

To be eligible, you must have valid F-1 status for one academic year.

Employment Authorization Documents

Optional practical training requires a work permit called the Employment Authorization Document.

It is a photo ID card from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

You can participate in a total 12 months of optional practical training after each degree you earn as an F-1 student.

USCIS must approve the individual application, create an employment authorization card and mail it to you before you can start working.

It takes USCIS three months to process individual applications.

Eligibility

In order to apply for optional practical training, you must be able to respond “yes” to the following questions:

  • Is your I-20 current?
  • Does it reflect your current field of study and educational level?
  • Do you have a valid, unexpired passport?
  • Have you used fewer than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training?
  • Have you been a full-time student for at least one full academic year?
  • Have you been registered full-time as an F-1 student every semester you attended Ball State?

How to Apply

Please read the optional practical training application guide. The application is completed in four steps:

  1. Attend an information session at the Rinker Center for International Programs.
  2. Prepare your application materials. Allow about one week to gather and organize your materials for mailing.
  3. Make an appointment with an international student advisor. During the appointment, you may ask questions of the advisor, who will check your application for errors.
  4. Mail your application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You will receive your Employment Authorization Document about three months after the federal agency receives your application.

Download the Application Guide (PDF)

Information Sessions

International Student Services offers several optional practical training information sessions every semester. These are a good opportunity to learn more about the training and ask questions before applying. You will receive an email from the Rinker Center informing you of the information session dates.

For STEM Majors

You may be eligible for up to 24 months of additional optional practical training if you have a major in a field that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services qualifies as science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). This practical training comes with a lot of requirements for both the student and the employer. Please contact an international student advisor if you would like more information on the request form.

Students with J-1 status may accept employment under certain conditions if they are eligible.

If you have questions about or would like to determine your eligibility for J-1 employment, please contact International Student Services.

J-1 students attending the Intensive English Institute are not eligible for employment.

On-campus employment is defined as employment that provides a paycheck from Ball State.

Positions include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, some fellowships, and hourly employment (food services, library, etc.).

As a student in J-1 status, you are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full time during school vacations. You may work only 20 hours per week if summer is your first semester at Ball State.

Your on-campus employment must stop once you complete your studies.

You must receive written permission from International Student Services before pursuing on-campus employment. Also, you need to complete a Form I-9 in your hiring department before working on campus.

Apply to Work on Campus

Students may apply for academic training either part time or full time at any stage of the academic program. You may also engage in training before or after completion of the program.

Download the Permission to Work Form

Evaluation Process

International Student Services must evaluate the academic dean’s or advisor’s recommendation, determine to what extent you have previously participated in academic training, and determine whether to grant you permission.

Students should allow at least one week for our office to evaluate the academic training request.

Follow the instructions of Ball State’s Career Center to apply for on-campus jobs.

Employment for Academic Training must be directly related to the academic program listed on form DS-2019.

Requirements

  • You must be in lawful J-1 status.
  • You must be in good academic standing (if still enrolled).
  • Academic training must be done with a specific employer or training site.

Amount of Training Allowed

The amount of training allowed depend on the degree you and pursuing:

  • doctoral students – up to 36 months
  • students other than doctoral students – up to 18 months
  • students whose academic program is shorter than 18 months – up to the length of the entire program

All academic training counts as full time. For instance, two months of part-time work is counted as two months of full-time work.

Academic training may be authorized for consecutive or simultaneous periods with more than one employer. However, you must file an additional application for each additional employer and activity.

Health insurance coverage for the J-1 student and all J-2 dependents must be maintained for the duration of the academic training period.

How to Apply

Apply for academic training by submitting a request to the Rinker Center with the following information and materials:

  • a recommendation letter from your academic dean or advisor (download the form)
  • a copy of the job offer letter to International Student Services so we can determine eligibility
  • the goals and objectives of the specific academic training program
  • a description of the academic training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training.
  • how the academic training relates to your major field of study
  • why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program

Deadlines

Students with J-1 visas must receive academic training authorization before beginning employment, including any related orientation or training.

For post-completion training, students must apply for and receive authorization from International Student Services before they graduate and before the end date on their DS-2019.

If you do not apply for training prior to graduating and the expiration of DS-2019, we will be unable to provide work authorization.

We recommend applying at least three weeks before the end date on your DS-2019.

Post-graduation academic training may begin up to 30 days after graduating.

If you meet the program’s requirements, one of our advisors will issue a letter authorizing your employment for a specified period of time, along with an updated DS-2019. Please allow at least 10 business days for processing.

All J-1 international students must file tax forms.

If you work in the United States and earn a salary or wages, you will likely have to pay both federal (U.S.) and Indiana state income taxes. Both federal and state taxes are due April 15 for money earned the previous calendar year.

Income Tax Withholdings

In most cases, your employer will withhold a percentage of your income to pay taxes each month or pay period.

This federal government withholding tax is an estimate of the taxes due on that amount of earnings. Every employer needs to report total earnings for the calendar year and the total amount of taxes it has withheld.

This report (W-2) must be sent to the employee and the federal government by Jan. 31 of each year.

Rules, Regulations, and Exemptions

The amount of taxes you must pay to both the U.S. government and the state of Indiana could be affected by the length of your stay, a tax treaty between your country and the United States, or your status and your type of employment.

By law, international students are only permitted to claim either zero or one exemption on their W-4 forms, unless you are a married citizen of Canada, Japan, Mexico, or South Korea.

Questions about exemptions, tax treaties, or withholdings should be directed to either the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Ball State Office of Payroll and Employee Benefits.

For Scholarship Recipients

If you have not worked or if you have only received a scholarship – not a salary – you will need to file taxes by June 15 for the money received the previous calendar year.

More Help

The Rinker Center for International Programs provides workshops about taxes each year, typically after spring break. Details about these workshops, including how to sign up and the date, time, and location, are usually announced via email and posted on the Rinker Center website and calendar.

Download This Manual for Employers

What Employers Should Know about Hiring International Students

Many employers are concerned about liability issues related to the employment of international students in the United States due to changes in federal laws governing non-citizens. This brochure addresses concerns employers might have about international students and employment.

Getting permission for international students to work in the U.S. is not as difficult as many employers think. Most international students are in the U.S. on non-immigrant student visas (F-1 and J -1), and these international students are eligible to accept employment under certain conditions. Fortunately, there is little paperwork for an employer who hires F-1 or J-1 students. All paperwork is handled by the students, the school, and USCIS (for OPT).

This document was originally published in 2000 with a grant from NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII. Revisions made in 2004, 2010 and 2016. Editors: Laurie Cox, University of Wisconsin, Madison; 2010 co-editors: Lay Tuan Tan, California State University Fullerton, Phil Hofer, University of La Verne & Junko Pierry, Stanford University; 2016 co-editors: Junko Pierry, Stanford University & Laurie Cox, Ball State University.

Practical training is a legal means by which F‐1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their academic field of study. Students, in general, must have completed one academic year (approximately nine months) in F‐1 status and must maintain their F‐1 status to be eligible for practical training.

There are two types of practical training:

  • Optional Practical Training
  • Curricular Practical Training

Optional practical training (OPT) must be authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) based on a recommendation from the Designated School Official (DSO) at the school which issued the I‐20 to the student. Form I‐20 is a government document which verifies the student's admission to that institution. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each degree level. Students who obtain a degree Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM)  may be eligible for additional 24 months of OPT.

Pre‐completion OPT can be used by F-1 students prior to the completion of their studies. Students can request to work

  • part time, a maximum of 20 hours per week, while school is in session
  • full time during vacation when school is not in session or
  • full time/part time after completing all course requirements for the degree excluding thesis or equivalent

Post‐completion OPT can be authorized for full time employment after completion of the course of study.

STEM OPT extension can be authorized for additional 24 months if the student:

  • is currently on post‐completion OPT
  • has completed all course requirements (excluding thesis or equivalent) for a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
  • has a job or job offer (must be at least 20 hours per week) from an employer registered in USCIS E‐Verify program

Employer responsibilities for STEM

  1. Report to Designated School Officials (DSO) within 5 business days if the student has been terminated from, or otherwise leaves employment prior to the end of the authorized period of OPT
  2. Participate in the E-verify Program
  3. Have a Federal Employer Identification Number
  4. Agree to the terms of STEM OPT by completing their sections of the Training Plan (I-983)

Cap‐Gap OPT can be granted if student (1) is in a period of authorized post‐completion OPT, and (2) is the beneficiary of a timely‐filed H‐1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of Oct. 1 of the following fiscal year. The Cap‐Gap OPT is an automatic extension of duration of status and employment authorization to bridge the gap between the OPT and start of H‐1B status. The automatic extension of OPT is terminated upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H‐1B petition.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD): Students who have received OPT permission will be issued an EAD by the USCIS. Their name, photo and valid dates of employment are printed on the EAD. Employers should note that the average processing time for USCIS to issue the EAD is two or three months, and students may begin employment only after they receive the EAD, which will indicate the start and end dates of employment. Students who have a pending STEM extension application can continue working for up to 180 days while the application is pending.

Curricular practical training (CPT) may be authorized by the institution (not by USCIS) for F‐1 students participating in curricular‐related employment such as cooperative education, work study, practicum and internship programs.

Authorization is indicated on page 2 of the I‐20 and includes the name of the company, start and end dates, and signature of the Designated School Official (DSO). Since each institution has different policies related to curricular‐related employment, students should speak to the DSO at their institution. Processing time for the authorization of CPT varies at each institution, and students may begin employment only after they receive the CPT work authorization on their I-20. International students on F‐1 visas are eligible for both CPT before finishing their studies, as well as 12 months of OPT. However, students who work full-time on CPT for one year or more are not eligible for OPT.

International students on J‐1 visas are eligible for up to 18 months of work authorization, called academic training. Post-doctoral students may apply for additional 18 months of Academic Training. Some J‐1 program participants are also allowed to work part-time during the academic program. Students should consult with the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) at their institution.

Continuing Employment after the Practical/Academic Training Period

Federal regulations require that students terminate their employment at the conclusion of the authorized practical or academic training. However, students on an F‐1 visa, or students on a J‐1 visa who are not subject to a two‐year home residency requirement, may continue to be employed, if they receive approval for a change in visa category‐usually to H‐1B. Students must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in order to qualify for H‐1B status.

Individuals may work in the U.S. for a maximum of six years under an H‐1B visa. This visa is valid only for employment with the company that petitioned for them. They must re-apply to the USCIS if they wish to change employers. As soon as the initial job offer is made, they should petition for an H‐1B visa if employment is likely to extend beyond the practical training period.

Unless exempted by a tax treaty, F‐1 and J‐1 students earning income while working on practical training are subject to applicable federal, state, and local income taxes. Information on tax treaties may be found in Internal Revenue Service’s Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, and 901, U.S. Tax Treaties.

Generally, F‐1 and J‐1 students are exempted from Social Security and Medicare tax requirements. However, if F‐1 and J‐1 students are considered "resident aliens" for income tax purposes, Social Security and Medicare taxes should be withheld. Chapter 1 of Internal Revenue Service’s Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, explains how to determine the residency status of international students. More information on Social Security and Medicare taxes can be found in Chapter 8 of Internal Revenue Service’s Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens and in Section 940 of Social Security Administration Publication No. 65‐008, Social Security Handbook.

Isn't it illegal to hire international students because they do not have a green card?

No. Federal regulations permit the employment of international students on F‐1 and J‐1 visas within certain limits. These visas allow students to work in jobs related to their major field of study. F‐1 students can work on "practical training." J‐I students may work on "academic training."

Even if it's legal to hire international students, won't it cost a lot of money and involve a lot of paperwork?

No. The only cost to the employer hiring international students is the time and effort to interview and select the best candidate for the job. The international student office handles the paperwork involved in securing the work authorization for F‐1 and J‐1 students. In fact, a company may save money by hiring international students because the majority of them are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax requirements.

How long can international students work in the United States with their student visa?

F‐1 students are eligible for curricular practical training before completing their studies, as well as an additional 12 months of optional practical training, either before or following graduation, or a combination of the two. Students who complete bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in STEM field may work for 24 additional months of optional practical training with an E‐Verify employer. However, if they work full‐time for one year or more of curricular practical training, they are ineligible for Optional Practical Training. Students with a J‐1 visa are usually eligible to work up to 18 months following graduation. They may also be eligible to work part‐time during their program of study. The Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) will evaluate each student's situation to determine the length of time for which they are eligible to work.

Don't international students need work authorization before I can hire them?

No. International students must have the work authorization before they begin actual employment, but not before they are offered employment. In fact, J‐1 students must have a written job offer in order to apply for the work authorization. Many F‐1 students will be in the process of obtaining work authorization while they are interviewing for employment. Students can give employers a reasonable estimate of when they expect to receive work authorization.

What does the work authorization look like?

For Optional Practical Training, F‐1 students receive from USCIS an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a small photo identity card that indicates the dates for which they are permitted to work. For Curricular Practical Training, F‐1 students receive authorization from the school (NOT from USCIS) on the back of the student's I‐20. "No Service endorsement is necessary" ‐ per 8CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iii). For Academic Training, J‐1 students receive work authorization RO or ARO at their institution on the student's DS-2019.

What if I want to continue to employ international students after their work authorization expires?

With a bit of planning ahead, an employer can hire international students to continue to work for them in the H‐1B visa category for a total of six years (authorization is granted in two, three‐year periods). The H‐1B is a temporary working visa for workers in a "specialty occupation." The application procedure to the USCIS is straightforward. The job must meet two basic requirements:

  • The salary must meet the prevailing wage as defined by the Department of Labor
  • A bachelor's degree is a minimum normal requirement for the position.
Doesn't an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?

No. American employers are not required to document that a citizen of another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under an F‐1, J‐1 or H‐1B visa. Employers must document that they did not turn down a qualified American applicant for the position only when they wish to hire foreign citizens on a permanent basis and sponsor them for a permanent resident status ("green card").

Can I hire international students as volunteer interns?

Normally, if the internship involves no form of compensation and is truly voluntary, the students may volunteer without having to do any paperwork with the USCIS. If, however, the internship provides a stipend or any compensation, students must obtain permission for practical training or academic training prior to starting their internship. Students should check with their employers to ensure that the company is allowed by law to offer unpaid internships. More information about unpaid internships can be found at the DOL website.

What is the cost of E‐Verify program and how can I enroll in E‐Verify program?

There is no cost to register in E‐Verify program. Information on E‐verify and the enrollment procedure can be found at the USCIS website.