Working while Studying in the United States


One of the things you may choose to do to complete your studies while in the United State is to take a job. In the United State, there are many things you can do while studying, but you must follow certain procedures to do so.

On this page we will look at what you need to do to work in the United State. On-campus employment is easier for international students than off-campus employment, but you can work off-campus if it meets certain requirements.

Read also: Tuition Fees In United States

Most international students who study in the United States hold what are known as F-1 Visas. F-1 visas are issued to students who are not permanent residents of the United States. These students can work in the USA if they meet the conditions, guidelines and restrictions set by United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Many of these conditions will match what you have included on your F1 Visa.


As mentioned earlier, working on-campus is much simpler than working off-campus. According to USCIS, on-campus employment includes:

  • Performing work directly for your school on school premises. This includes work related to a grant or an assistantship. These are two of the ways you can make money for your education..
  • Work for on-site commercial companies that serve students on campus, e.g., the school bookshop or cafeteria. This term does not include work for organizations that may be hired by the university to do a specific job, e.g. a construction company that has been contracted to renovate or construct a new building.
  • Work done at an off-campus location that is educationally related to the school. The educationally related work must be related to the curriculum that is already in place and/or the field of study that the student is pursuing. In any case, the work must be an essential component of the student’s educational program.

Most on-campus employment is limited, and many of them are outside of your scope of study (unless you fall into the last category). Even if you work on campus, you can’t use that work as evidence for your financial aid for the academic year.

You’ll need to apply to your International Student Office to work on campus, and you’ll be subject to the following:

  • F-1 status must remain in effect for the duration of your employment on campus. You will not be eligible to resume employment on campus if you lose your status.
  • You can work a maximum of 20 hours a week during school hours; if school isn’t in session, your hours may differ.
  • If you plan to register for the next academic semester, you can work on campus full-time during the holidays and vacation periods. If you have finished your studies, see next section for limitations on off-campus work.
  • Employment does not have the effect of displacing (taking away) employment from a U.S. resident. If that is the situation, you are ineligible for employment.
  • Therefore, although it may seem challenging to find work on campus during your studies, the international studies office can help you understand how to find work and where to look for work on campus.

Types of Off-Campus Employment Allowed With an F-1 Visa

There are a few kinds of off-campus work that can be done with an international student visa. In any case, an international student is not allowed to work during his first year in the U.S. After his first year, international students’ options for off-campus work include:

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT), which can take place before or after the completion of your degree, occurs when you obtain employment in a field relevant to the degree you are pursuing.
  • CPT stands for Certificate of Tertiary Training, which includes trainings and internships that are required for graduation.
  • If a student is experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of not having a job during their studies, they can be allowed to work from home during their studies.
  • Approved International Organizations (AIOs). AIOs are organizations that specialize in providing employment opportunities for international students and adhere to specific regulations within the U.S. that permit them.

In order to qualify for any of these programs, you must meet certain requirements. USCIS will provide you with the necessary information if you want to work off-campus for any of the above-mentioned reasons.

If you have any queries regarding working in the United States while studying, kindly check out the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website; they can also help you with paperwork and other important work-related matters while studying in the United States.

The international student office or an advisor from your university may also be able to assist you in navigating the system.





Posts on this blog is written by the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the website, Campus9ja, Ayomide Adeniyi Ogunmokun. He's dedicated to providing comprehensive coverage of educational issues, campus topics, and current events in Nigerian educational institutions.

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