What is considered "Work"?

Any service or product you provide in exchange for compensation (i.e. money, housing, academic credit, transportation) is considered "work." Any work you do must be authorized in advance.

Unauthorized employment can result in the termination of your F-1 or J-1 visa status. Some examples of unauthorized employment include, but are not limited to:

  • Inappropriate work off-campus (employee at a gas station, waitress at a restaurant, cashier at a grocery store)
  • Babysitting, private tutoring, private language lessons, Uber driving
  • Home or internet business
  • Off-campus internship or job with no Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Academic Training (for J-1) authorization
  • Working over 20 hours/week on campus in Spring or Fall semester

On-Campus Employment

As an F-1 student, you are automatically authorized in advance to work on campus. For a list of requirements and authorized employers visit the on-campus employment page.

J-1 students are NOT automatically authorized to work on campus. J-1 Students must check with the program sponsor listed in box 2 of their DS-2019 form regarding whether or not they are permitted to receive authorization for on-campus employment and what the procedures and timeline are for requesting that authorization. More information is on our on-campus employment page; scroll down to the section for J-1 students.

Curricular & Optional Practical Training

You MUST apply for CPT, OPT, or Academic Training (for J-1 students) authorization in order to work off campus. Unauthorized employment is a very serious violation of your F-1 or J-1 status.

Social Security Number

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices do not accept applications on a walk-in basis. If you need to apply for an SSN, read the information about necessary documents (below). First gather all the necessary documents, including the SSN Form for On-Campus employment (F-1 Students) completed by your hiring department on their letterhead and submit the form to your CGE advisor through Nole Start (https://istart.fsu.edu). Be sure that voicemail is set up on your phone. When you have the signed SSN Form back from your CGE advisor, instead of going to the SSA office, call the office at 866-248-2088. When you speak with the SSA representative, explain that you are an international student and need a social security number for employment purposes. The representative will take your information and another representative will contact you via phone to set your appointment and will leave a voicemail message if you do not answer. You may wait a few weeks to get the call.

If you have never worked in the U.S. before, you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN). You are eligible to apply for an SSN IF you have been offered on-campus employment (such as a graduate assistantship) or have obtained off-campus employment authorization (see above section).

If you are an F-1 student eligible for an SSN, do the following:

  • Gather the necessary documents:
    1. If you have been offered on-campus employment, the SSN Form for On-Campus Employment , completed and printed on letterhead by your hiring department and then signed by an international student advisor at the CGE. Note: If you are applying at the beginning of a semester, do not apply until the advisor confirms that you are registered in SEVIS.  
    2. If you have authorization for CPT or OPT, your CPT I-20 or OPT EAD card.
    3. A completed Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5)
    4. Your passport.
    5. A printout of your I-94, retrieved from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/, or your I-94 Card (if you entered the U.S. by land/sea or were approved to Change Status to F-1).
    6. Your current I-20 Form.
  • Read the SSN brochure for car and bus directions to the SSA office, as well as additional information about the application process.
  • Take the above documents and apply for an SSN at the Social Security Administration office:

Social Security Administration
2002 Old St. Augustine Rd
Building B, Suite 12

Open 9:00 am—3:30 pm (M, T, Th & F)
Open 9:00 am—12:00 pm (W)

  • Show your employer your SSN application receipt, which you received from the SSA office when you applied.
  • After you receive your SSN card in the mail (in 2 – 4 weeks), show it to your employer, the FSU Card Center and the FSU Registrar.

If you are a J-1 student eligible for an SSN, do the following:

  • Follow your sponsor’s procedures for obtaining on-campus work or academic training authorization;
  • Take the sponsor’s letter authorizing the specific employment, the DS-2019, passport, and I-94 printout to the Social Security Administration to apply in person;
  • Show your SSN receipt to your employer;
  • After you receive your SSN card in the mail, notify your sponsoring agency that you have an SSN (do not email the number or a copy of the card), show it to your employer, the FSU Card Center and the FSU Registrar.

For more information, review the SSN brochure.


Are you considering volunteering?

Please be aware that volunteering is different from unpaid employment. Not all unpaid positions qualify as a volunteering opportunity. In fact, unpaid positions may still be considered employment that requires CPT or OPT authorization.

According to the Department of Labor, volunteers are individuals who volunteer or donate their services, usually on a part-time basis to a public agency, religious or non-profit organization, for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, not as employees and without contemplation of pay for the services provided.

To be considered a volunteer then, the work performed must meet the following criteria:

  • No expectation of compensation
  • The volunteer cannot displace a genuine employee, and the services provided by the volunteer should not be the same services for which he/she was previously paid and/or expects to be hired and paid for in the future
  • Services are performed for a non-profit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objective.

Are you looking for work opportunities?

We recommend that you visit the FSU Career Center for career and job search advising. The Career Center can provide assistance with your resume and cover letter and offers many events and workshop to help you be successful in the job market. Career Services Drop-In Advising is available to students and community members Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM in the Career Center Library, located on the first floor of the Dunlap Success Center

Handshake - An online jobs database connecting students with employers hiring Log in with your FSUID to access the online database to view available full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and internships in the U.S and abroad.

International Student Career Center Information Page

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