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Student Employment

F-1 and J-1 Student On-Campus Employment

All in-status F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to engage in part-time work on-campus. It is not necessarily difficult to find student jobs, and the best places to look are the Computer Labs, the Libraries, and Dining Services. It is also possible that various academic departments have non-federal jobs. Student employment is only available to students in good standing with the university. US regulation limits employment to 20 hours per week on-campus while school is in session, 40 hours on-campus otherwise.

U.S. Immigration Regulations (8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(i) state that on-campus employment must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session. Violation will result in immediate termination of student’s legal status in the US.  More information can be found here -  https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/working-in-the-united-states


Payroll Processing -
(You must read ALL directions and follow each step)

To begin working (including graduate assistants) and getting paid, you will need to do the following in order. 

Missing steps and completing steps out of order or not following ISSS or Social Security Administration (SSA) procedure WILL lead to delays in processing for you. We highly advise that you do not visit the SSA Office until steps 1-4 are complete and you have all of the required documents in hand. Otherwise, you will be turned away at the SSA office until you receive the required documents.

*What if I am an F-1 or J-1 student who already has a Social Security Card?

  • F-1 Students – After completing steps 1 and 2 below, please then proceed to steps 6 and 7.
  • J-1 Students - Only for those who already have a SSN and need additional work authorization time/extension. Please only click on this link if the previous statement applies to you and you are a J-1 student: http://internationalservices.wvu.edu/?go=J1WorkAuth

*For F-1 or J-1 Students without a social security card, please proceed to each step below and complete them in order:

  1. Enroll full-time - 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 for graduate students. We cannot process additional steps until you are enrolled full time.
  2. Complete SEVIS Check-in online by visiting the International Student Services Request Portal. Please go to the "Requests and Documents" section where you must complete all three of the requests below:

    - SEVIS CHECK-IN
    - Contact Information Update and provide a physical U.S. address
    - Pre-Arrival Orientation

    *Please do not complete the requests again if you already submitted them prior.

    *SEVIS Check-in fulfills the requirements under US federal regulations for students to check in with their DSO. You do not need to arrive to the ISS office to complete SEVIS Check-in with a DSO.

    *Please complete SEVIS check-in online using the directions above. We cannot process additional steps until you complete Steps 1 & 2. 

    *Please allow 3-5 business days for SEVIS Check-in to be completed by our staff before you can access the Social Security Letter Request in Step 4.

  3. Use the following link to the template, Employment Verification Letterto obtain a letter from your supervisor or hiring department on official WVU department letterhead.

    - You MUST use the the template for the letter found in the link above - grad assistantship offer letters, contracts, or emails from supervisors WILL NOT be accepted.
     
    - Make sure to use only the link to the template above and that the supervisor who is filling out the information does not alter the template, fills it out completely and accurately, and be sure the supervisor ensures that the letter is printed on the hiring department's official WVU letterhead.
      
    - We cannot accept any other versions of employment verification other than what is described above and an actual start date is needed - filling out the start date as "
    ASAP" cannot be accepted.
      
    - You
    must also have an original, ink signed copy of this template letter for the Social Security Administration on department letterhead. Please provide these directions to your supervisor if needed when filling out the template.

     ***Do not proceed unless steps 1-3 are complete. Doing so will delay your processing time.

  4. Submit a Request for a Social Security Letter by visiting the International Student Services Request Portal. Please go to the "Requests and Documents" section and select "Social Security Letter" and complete the steps.

    We do not guarantee turnaround times, but normally, we strive to process these letters in 5-7 business days at most. We cannot expedite requests and do strive to complete the request as soon as possible.

    The length of time to process depends on how many requests are received in queue and if the above steps have been followed by the student making the request. If you already have a Social Security Number, please proceed to steps 6-7.

    ***If you do not have a social security card, you will upload a copy of your Employment Verification Letter (STEP 3) from your supervisor/department to the request in the appropriate section.

    You may submit a digital copy of this employment verification letter in order for us to process STEP 4, however the Social Security Administration office must have the original, ink signed copy of the letter.

    Once the Social Security Letter is ready, our office will email you when your letter is ready for pickup with an original signature. PLEASE REMEMBER AND TAKE NOTE:
    1. You must wait to visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) office until you have both an original, signed Social Security Letter from ISSS and an original, signed Employment Verification Letter from your hiring department. The SSA office discourages visiting the office in advance before all documents are obtained.
    2. You cannot forgo SSA procedure and we cannot expedite requests for letters. Letters are processed and sent in the order that they are received.
    3. The SSA will not issue a Social Security Number for employment that begins more than 30 days in the future. 
    4. J-1 students must have additional work authorization documents from ISSS for payroll purposes.
    5. If you feel you will experience a delay in your employment start date while awaiting your letter and cannot visit the SSA office until it is ready, please alert your department as soon as possible.  Our staff will work as quickly as possible to assist you, but may also be assisting others in queue and need time to process every request in the order they are received.
    6. The applicant’s documentation must be the originals. SSA cannot accept photocopies or pdf documents printed from an email. This includes letters from the employer as well as the social security letter from the DSO/ARO.

      If you were issued a digital I-20, the electronically signed/printed copies of this electronic I-20 are acceptable according to the SSA office. Please email us at isss-students@mail.wvu.edu if you encounter an issue where the SSA office states directly to you that an electronic signature on the I-20 is unacceptable. 

      Since DHS and WVU payroll has moved to acceptance of electronic I-20s, an original copy with DSO ink signature of the I-20 is typically not needed for most situations. 
      J-1 Students with DS-2019's will still need an ink signature and may request an updated, original copy with ink signature for pick up at our office by submitting a "Reprint DS-2019" request through the International Student Services Request Portal.

      We recommend e-mailing us at isss-students@mail.wvu.edu if you have questions about any of the steps above. 

      ***DO NOT PROCEED UNLESS STEPS 1-4 ARE COMPLETE AND YOU RECEIVE ALL DOCUMENTS FROM STEPS 3-4 ABOVE.
       

  5. Once steps 1-4 are completed and you have all of the required documents, apply for a Social Security Card (if you do not already have a US Social Security Card) with the US Social Security Administration (SSA). You must have a Social Security Number (SSN) to work in the US. Please read below for helpful and need to know information about applying for a social security card and visiting the SSA office.
    • You must use the Morgantown, WV SSA office to process for a social security card. The SSA office in Morgantown has recommended not to travel to other offices in order to expedite the process and to only be processed in the Morgantown office.
    • Appointments at the SSA office are no longer necessary. Do not call to make an appointment.
    • The SSA office in Morgantown is currently open to the public. No quarantine time is required once arriving in the U.S. before visiting their office, however...
    • When visiting the office, you will be asked to undergo a health screening and may be asked to leave if you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If sick, please wait to visit the SSA office until you are well enough to do so. A well-fitting mask that covers completely your mouth and nose is still mandatory and required to be worn at all times while visiting the SSA office.

      You may begin the SSA process for a social security card in one of two ways:

      1. Online by visiting https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/. Afterwards, you must visit the SSA office with all of your required documents within 45 days of finishing an online application. Please be sure to follow all of the online directions and bring any printout required to the SSA office once the online process is complete. This includes any receipt or receipt number of the online filing.

      2. In person. 
      You will also need to have your SS-5 form completed with your current, accurate address included prior to arriving to the SSA office
    • For either option, you will need to bring original copies of all of your immigration and employment documents: I-20 (acceptable if signed electronically) or DS-2019 (needs ink signature), I-94, Employment Verification Letter, graduate assistantship letter (if applicable), social security letter from ISSS, passport and visa, SS-5 form or any applicable online form needing printed.

      Please remember: When filling out your address on any form, you must include an apartment # if applicable - failing to do so may cause further delays if documents are mailed to you from the SSA.

      Do not show up to the SSA office without all of your required documents ready and in hand 
      as this will only cause further delays and you will be turned away.

    • More information can be found here - Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens. The Social Security Administration Office will process your application and provide you with an application letter/receipt. Please direct all questions about card processing to their office.
    • The Social Security Administration’s phone number is 1-866-770-2055 and their address in Morgantown is: 3596 Collins Ferry Road, Morgantown, WV 26505

      After processing with the Social Security Office:
6.   Open a US bank account. For you to be able to be paid by WVU, you must have a US bank account. 

7.   Start payroll processing for WVU
You can contact Tax Services for additional information on processing for payroll. Tax Services can be contacted at ForeignNationalProcessing@mail.wvu.edu.
 
F-1 and J-1 Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship

Permission to work off campus is possible for reasons of economic hardship if on-campus employment is not sufficient. Economic hardship means extreme financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control, such as loss of a graduate assistantship, loss of financial sponsorship, or severe inflation or devaluation of currency in the home country. Students considering applying for economic hardship should come and speak to a staff member in ISSS. To make an appointment, please visit our appointments page here - Make an Appointment with Advisor.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship, you must:

  1. Have been a student for one full academic year
  2. Be in good academic standing and pursuing a full course of study
  3. Demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with your study
  4. Demonstrate that the severe economic hardship is due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control and demonstrate that on-campus employment is unavailable or insufficient.

Check out additional information and application instructions for F-1 Students. For J-1 students, please contact ISSS at isss-students@mail.wvu.edu.

F-1 students who get approved and receive an employment authorization card (EAD) through USCIS, are required to provide a copy of the EAD card to ISSS.


Additional Information Concerning Worker's Rights

Know Your Rights (Wilberforce Pamphlet) from the Department of State. An information pamphlet describing your rights while working in the United States.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the Immigration guidelines regarding student employment?

A. The Immigration guidelines state “a student may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session; full time during those periods when school is not in session or during the annual break”. If the student works more than the 20 hours permitted while school is in session, it is a violation of status and the student's SEVIS record is terminated for unauthorized work. The student must obtain a new I-20, depart the US, and return on the new I-20.

Upon termination of the student’s SEVIS record, the ISE will also immediately be terminated from payroll. They must reprocess with Tax Services after obtaining a new I-20 and completing SEVIS check-in with ISSS  before they will be permitted to resume employment.  ISEs are not permitted to work during the period between termination of their old I-20 and when they reprocess for payroll. Doing so would be an  additional violation of the student’s visa.

Q. How is full time employment defined?

A. The IRS defines full time on-campus employment as 40 hours per work week.

Q. How is a work week defined?

A. At WVU, a work week begins at 12am on Sunday morning and ends at 11:59pm the following Saturday night.

Q. How is a semester term defined?

Immigration guidelines state "when school is in session."  For the purposes of this process, school will be considered in session during the semester term which begins with the first day of classes and ends the last day of final exams.

Q. How many hours are International Student Employees (ISEs) permitted to work during periods of break?

A. Under Immigration guidelines, ISEs are permitted to work full time during a period of break. Forty (40) hours is considered to be full-time in a work week, therefore ISEs are permitted to work up to but not exceed 40 hours in a work week during a period of break.

Q. How is a period of break defined?

A. A period of break is defined as any week (Monday through Friday) in which there are no scheduled classes or final exams.

Note: A period of break is considered to be from Monday through Friday by definition based on the normal academic class schedule week. In contract, a work week is considered to be from Sunday through Saturday by definition as the work week includes weekends, therefore an ISE would be permitted to work up to 40 hours over the course of the work week (Sunday through Saturday) during a period of break.

Q. What are the recognized periods of break at WVU?

A. A recognized period of break is generally at least one full week in duration and includes the Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks. Summer is also considered a period of break.

Q. If summer is recognized as a period of break in which an ISE is permitted to work up to 40 hours during the work week, what are the rules if the ISE is enrolled at any point during the summer term?

A. Summer is a recognized period of break in which the ISE is permitted to work on a full-time basis regardless of credit hours enrolled. The ISE can be enrolled full-time, part-time or not at all during the summer term and still work up to 40 hours per work week.

Q. How will periods of break that are less than one week be treated?

A. If the period of break (which excludes weekends as defined above) is limited to one or two days in a work week, then the week will not be considered a period of break for this process. In this situation, ISEs will be limited to working a 20 hour work week.

If the period of break is three or more days (excluding weekends as defined above), then the week will be considered a period of break for this process and the ISE will be permitted to work up to 40 hours per work week during that week.

Q. How does WVU handle non-compliance with Immigration employment guidelines?

A. WVU has implemented a bi-weekly compliance program maintained by ISSS and the Tax Services unit.

Q. How does the monthly compliance program work?

A. Tax Services reviews the time cards on a bi-weekly basis and tracks non-compliance.

Tax Services will notify the ISE, the ISE’s immediate supervisor, and the EBO. Each notice provides the ISE’s name, supervisor, work week of non-compliance, and hours worked during that week. 

Upon receipt of the non-compliance notice, ISEs and their supervisors should review the timecard for accuracy.  If the timecard is incorrect, the supervisor should notify Tax Services and the EBO to have the hours corrected.

If the timecard is correct, the supervisor should notify Tax Services and the EBO and have an employment termination form submitted.  The Department should immediately discontinue permitting the ISE to work.

Tax Services will then provide ISSS with a file of ISEs that are in non-compliance with the 20-hour work rule (40 hours during a period of break).

ISSS will contact and counsel each ISE who is in non-compliance. The student's SEVIS record will be terminated for unauthorized work. The student must obtain a new I-20, depart the US, and return on the new I-20.

Upon termination of the student’s SEVIS record, the ISE will immediately be terminated from payroll. They must reprocess with Tax Services after obtaining a new I-20 and completing SEVIS check-in with ISSS  before they will be permitted to resume employment.  ISEs are not permitted to work during the period between termination of their old I-20 and when they reprocess for payroll.  Doing so would be an additional violation of the student’s visa.

All ISEs are advised of the Immigration guidelines as part of the on-boarding process for payroll when they process with Tax Services. They are required to sign a statement that they are aware of the Immigration guidelines and the 20-hour rule.

Q. What are the “Three Strikes” and how do they impact the ISE?

A. The three strikes rule no longer applies to ISEs. Each violation of the 20-hour rule will lead to termination of both the ISE’s employment and their SEVIS record. To remain in status, the student must:

  • Obtain a new I-20 & Pay the SEVIS fee again ($350);
  • Depart from the US;
  • Return on the new I-20;
  • Complete SEVIS check-in with ISSS; and
  • If continuing employment at WVU, they must reprocess for payroll with Tax Services.

Q. Should all ISEs limit their work hours to 20 hours per work week when school is in session or only ISEs that are hourly employees?

A. All ISEs on a student visa should limit their hours to 20 hours per week when school is in session whether they are an hourly (clocked) employee or a salaried employee such as a GRA, GTA, or GA.

Q. What are the student visas that are impacted?

A. All ISEs on an F-1 or a J-1 student visa are impacted and required to follow the 20 hour work week Immigration guidelines. F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are subject to SEVIS record termination for failure to comply with the 20-hour work week immigration guidelines.

Q. What is the process when the ISE has more than one assignment and/or supervisor?

A. Regardless of the number of work assignments that an ISE has the total number of hours that they can work is limited to 20 hours per work week when school is in session. EBOs and supervisors should work together with ISEs who have multiple assignments to ensure that the ISE does not exceed the total hours permitted.

Q. What is the impact to the student if their SEVIS record is terminated?

A. When a student’s SEVIS record is terminated for any reason including unauthorized employment, they are considered to be “out of status” and must depart the US. A proven incident of unauthorized employment can lead to the individual being found to be unlawfully present in the United States which can lead to a ban of up to 10 years from returning to the US.

Q. What is the impact to the University for failure to comply with the Immigration guidelines?

A. Failure by the University to comply with the Immigration guidelines can jeopardize our international programs for all Foreign National students in that we can lose our Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification. If WVU would lose this certification we would not be allowed to offer programs of study to any Foreign National student.