Frequently Asked Questions
What is “employment”? If you provide a service and you receive some type of compensation in
exchange for your service you are employed. Employers use many different names for jobs (i.e.
internship, babysitting, assistantship, work-study, etc), but regardless of the name, if it meets the
description above you should consider it to be employment. Some people say that work such as
babysitting is not employment, but USCIS has never given a clarification and you need to be careful. If
you have questions, contact an international student advisor before you begin.
What is the difference between part-time and full-time work? USCIS considers part-time to be any
employment that is less than 20 hours per week. If the job requires 21 hours per week or more it is
considered to be full-time. This may be different from an employer’s definition that considers anything
less than 40 hours per week part-time. Your work permit is determined by the USCIS definition.
What does “related to the major” mean? USCIS has never provided a specific definition for this
phrase. However, as an F-1 student you are admitted at this time to study towards a degree in a specific
academic major or field. Practical training is intended to allow the opportunity for “hands-on experience”
in the same field. Therefore, you should be able to explain how the training/work that you are doing is
connected to or adds to what you study in the classroom.
Does time in another immigration status count towards the one academic year requirement?
USCIS Operations Instructions clarify that to be eligible for practical training; an F-1 student must have
been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at a DHS approved school in a status which permits full-time
study. Examples would be student’s enrolled full-time while in J-1 student status or as dependents in A,
E, G, H, J, L, O or TN status prior to changing to F-1 status. Students enrolled in B1/B2 or F-2 status are
considered to be in violation of status and may not take advantage of this provision.
Are F-1 students automatically eligible to work off campus after one academic year or in the
summer? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Students are eligible to apply (to the school or USCIS; whichever is
appropriate) for work authorization after being in F-1 status for one academic year.
Do I need a new Social Security Card when I begin to work? Generally F-1 students have a Social
Security card with the statement “Not Valid for Employment Without INS Authorization”. This card is
sufficient for employment while in F-1 status and you do not need a new card.
Do F-1 students have to pay taxes? Yes. F-1 students with income in the United States are required to
pay both federal and state income tax and file a tax report. For the first 5 years in the United States,
F-1 students are considered to be non-residents for tax purposes and generally are not required to pay
Social Security taxes.
Nonresident tax laws are extremely complex and many employers are not experienced in deducting taxes
for nonresidents. Likewise, you cannot count on friends to provide you with accurate information. If you
have questions, you need to read IRS publications, speak with an IRS representative or speak with a tax
preparation expert. To get more complete information about nonresident taxes you may refer to the
Internal Revenue Service Publication 519. This publication can be downloaded from the website