Employment Eligibility

F-1 students

F-1 students may be eligible for employment while maintaining active F-1 status. Employment is defined as any services rendered in exchange for money or other benefits or compensation.

  • Full-time or part-time
    • Includes self-employment
    • Includes work for non-monetary benefits (for example, free room and board in exchange for babysitting)

F-1 students are eligible for 3 types of employment.

  • Training programs
  • On-campus employment
    • All F-1 students are permitted to work on campus with no special authorization.
      • Students may begin on-campus employment 30 days before the program start date on their I-20. Additionally, F-1 students are permitted to work full time when school is not in session if the student intends and is eligible to register for the next semester. An F-1 student may not engage in on-campus employment after completing a course of study, except employment for practical training (OPT).
  • Economic hardship

Training programs for F-1 students give you the chance to work in positions that are related to your studies.

Eligibility and regulations

Check the rules carefully. You will need to comply with strict employment regulations established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the state of Washington. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services  if you have any questions.

Get authorization before you work. You must obtain appropriate employment authorization before you engage in any type of employment. Unauthorized employment may result in having your visa revoked. Ignorance of the regulations does not excuse you from the serious ramifications of unauthorized employment.

If you are an F-2 dependent, you may not be employed under any conditions. DHS strictly prohibits employment for F-2 individuals.

On-campus employment

You may work part-time – 20 hours a week or less – on the WSU campus if all the following are true:

  • You have lawful F-1 status.
  • Your Form I-20 was issued by WSU.
  • You have not yet completed your program requirements and are still enrolled.

Completion of program is signified by the following dates:

  • Graduate students — End date of an assistantship, the day grades post during semester of defense, or an alternate date, if applying for OPT prior to the end of semester. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services  if you are unsure of your program end date.
  • Undergraduate students — The day grades post.

During official breaks and annual vacation

If you meet the requirements for working on campus, you are allowed to work full time (over 20 hours per week) on campus during annual vacation periods, which include spring, summer, Thanksgiving, and winter breaks.

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.

Economic hardship

If you are an F-1 student who is experiencing severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, you may apply for off-campus employment through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This authorization allows you to work anywhere in the United States. 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.

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

How to qualify

To qualify for this type of work authorization, you must have been in F-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. An application is not guaranteed authorization.

Required documents

  • Completed Form I-765
  • Copy of I-20 with recommendation from International Student and Scholar Services
  • Letter explaining unforeseen hardship situation
  • Check for $410 application fee*
  • 2 passport photos
  • Copies of passport ID pages, U.S. visa stamp, electronic version of I-94 card

*Fee is subject to change.

For more information, please meet with an International Student and Scholar Services advisor. Call 509-335-4508 to schedule an appointment.

J-1 students

J-1 students may work part time (20 hours per week or less) on the WSU campus if all the following are met:

  • 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
The clocktower of Bryan Hall keeps watch over WSU’s Pullman campus.

Office of International Programs
International Student and Scholar Services
Bryan Hall, Room 206

Office Hours
By appointment
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
1-3 p.m.