Employment for J-1 Students

On-campus employment

When school is in session

You may work part-time (20 hours per week or less) on the WSU campus if all of the following are true:

  • You have lawful J-1 status
  • You have the permission of your J program sponsor
  • You are in good academic standing
  • You are enrolled in a full-time course of study
  • You have not yet graduated

Graduation is signified by:

  • Graduate students—Date of successful defense or the end date of an assistantship
  • Undergraduate students—The last day of finals

During official breaks and annual vacation

Full-time employment is permitted. Your Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer must approve your specific employment in advance and in writing. Approval may be valid for up to 12 months. If you terminate your studies, approval is automatically withdrawn.

Limits on the number of hours you can work

The state of Washington limits on-campus employment for all enrolled students (domestic and international) to 516 hours in 6 consecutive months. That is an average of 20 hours a week. Vacation periods are excluded. The limitation does not apply if you are working in your major field of study.

The state also limits non-student temporary employees to 1,050 hours (including overtime) in any 12 consecutive months. Measurement starts with the original date of your non-student temporary employment. Monitored hours are displayed on your earnings statement.

Graduate students with assistantships

Teaching and research assistantships are considered to be on-campus employment. Therefore, if you are a graduate student on a half-time teaching or research assistantship, you may not be employed elsewhere on campus for additional hours.


If your employment is part of the exchange visitors program (e.g., a teaching or research assistantship), you may receive compensation from the sponsor that issued your Form DS-2019.

Off-campus employment

All off-campus employment must be approved in advance by an advisor in the International Programs International Student and Scholar Services office. You may seek approval only for off-campus employment under 1 of the following 2 circumstances:

Economic hardship

If unforeseen circumstances are causing you severe economic hardship, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant you off-campus employment authorization.

Your employment does not need to be related to your field of study. It is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session, but can be full time during official breaks.

Economic hardship work authorization does not affect your J-1 academic training eligibility.


To qualify for this type of work authorization, you must have been in J-1 status for 1 full academic year (2 semesters). You should be able to document that the unforeseen circumstances occurred after you arrived in the United States.

Submit the following to your Responsible Officer:

  • Detailed description of circumstances resulting in the need for employment. Detail the seriousness of the situation, when the circumstances occurred, and how they were unforeseen
  • Detailed budget of your current income and expenses

Get authorization before starting a job

Authorization must be granted in writing by your Responsible Officer or Alternate Responsible Officer before you start work.

  • To learn about the process and get the necessary recommendation, please meet with an International Student and Scholar Services advisor. To schedule an appointment, call 509-335-4508.
  • For quick questions, you are welcome to stop by Bryan Hall room 206 during walk-in hours, Monday–Friday, 1-3 p.m.

Duration of authorization

Authorization is granted 1 year at a time, or until you complete your academic program.