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Definition of Employment

Employment is any type of work performed, or services provided, in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other benefit for the work performed and the position is normally an unpaid position, this activity is considered to be volunteer work rather than paid employment.

Students with F-1 Visas and J-1 Exchange Visitors are permitted to work part-time (up to a maximum of 20 hours per week) while school is in session, and full-time (40 hours per week) during the summer, winter, and holiday breaks.

Note: In order to work in the United States, you must have a Social Security number.

How to Get Your Social Security number

If you don’t already have a social security number, follow these steps:

  1. Apply for a job and get hired.
  2. Ask your employer to give you a letter which indicates his/her intent to hire you and describes your position.
  3. Bring or send the letter from your employer to the International Students Office.
  4. You will receive an introductory letter from the International Students Advisor.
  5. Bring or send both letters (described above) to the Social Security Office in your borough of residence. Include your application form, valid passport, I-94 record, SEVIS I-20 form (from Hunter College or a previous school) and your Hunter College transcript.
    Please also see the Social Security Application Information for Non-Citizens, and Application to Create an Account. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 for more information.
  6. Once you receive a receipt for your application for a Social Security number, you may show it to your employer and begin working.

For more information about how to get a Social Security number, please see Social Security Information For F-1 Students.

Finding a Job

  • Consult the CUNY list of job openings.
  • Contact Career Development Services at for advice on writing your resume and interviewing
  • Create a profile for yourself with Career Development Services on their CareerHunter jobs listing.
    → Be sure to select your Visa type under the section "Work Authorization".

On-Campus Employment

You must maintain Hunter College/CUNY F-1 or J-1 status. You are eligible for on-campus employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year. You can work over 20 hours per week during summer, winter, and holiday breaks, when classes are not in session.

I-9 requirements: You must provide the department with the following original documents (the documents below are all required to satisfy List A-doc#4):

  • Unexpired Foreign Passport
  • I-94 card stamped F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status)
  • I-20 form issued by Hunter College/ The City University of New York with a future graduation date
  • On-Campus F-1 or J-1 Employment Verification Form

Off-campus Employment

To qualify for an off-campus job:

  • The job must be related to the your major field of study.
  • Get hired and then apply for your Social Security number (see How to Get a Social Security Number, above).
  • An F-1 student may have an off-campus job in their "declared" major area of study for up to 22 months, on a part-time basis. This will not affect your future employment permit after graduation, also known as the Optional Practical Training.
  • For Optional Practical Training, you will need to obtain your OPT card, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

To qualify for an off-campus job that is not related to your major:

Under Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization, an F-1 or J-1 Exchange visitor student is allowed to work off-campus in a position that is not related to his/her major. This authorization allows the student to hold that job for up to 12 months (part-time while school is in session), without being deducted from the OPT 12-month employment period, even if the number of months you hold the job exceeds 12 months, after adding the CPT accumulated hours.

NOTE: Severe Economic Hardship will only be granted in the event of unprecedented financial difficulties, such as an unusual increase in school tuition, devaluation of the currency from the country of citizenship, sudden death of sponsor, or natural disaster.


Tax Obligations

All non-immigrants and their dependents in F or J status are required by law to file an "income tax return," if they were physically present in the U.S. during the tax year. An "income tax return" is a form that reports your income to the Internal Revenue Service. However, you must file a tax return even if you had no U.S. source of income.

Please be aware that there are penalties for failure to file an income tax return. Every person's situation may vary, and it is your responsibility to understand your own income tax situation. Every year the International Students’ Office arranges an income tax workshop, where you can get the information you need to help you file your tax return.

→ Please also see our Tax Information page.


F-1 Student Employment

Legal Employment: The most important employment issue to consider is legal (or "authorized") versus illegal (or "unauthorized") employment. Make sure that any employment you plan to engage in is legal, since illegal employment poses a grave threat to your ability to remain in or return to the United States.

Employment Authorization: Also make sure you have the necessary employment authorization before you begin work. Starting work without prior authorization, even if you receive authorization later, constitutes illegal employment. Again, be aware that illegal, or unauthorized, employment makes your stay in the U.S. illegal, and can have serious consequences.

Questions About Your Employment: If you have any questions concerning your eligibility or category of employment, please consult with ISO before commencing employment.

Working While Studying in F-1 Status: For information on OPT or CPT please click here.

F-1 Employment Eligibility Requirements

F-1 international students are admitted to the United States for the purpose of attending school full-time. However, you may work without violating your student status if you meet these basic requirements:

  • You must currently be in valid F-1 status and in good academic standing at the Hunter College while engaged in a full course of study, except during summer and school holidays.
  • A student who is out of status is not eligible for F-1 benefits, including employment.
  • Once employment is authorized, you must maintain your eligibility or you will lose your right to continue employment.

In addition, there are different requirements for each type of F-1 employment. (See below.)


Categories of F-1 Student Employment

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students are permitted to work on the campus of the school that issued their currently valid I-20, while attending that school and maintaining their F-1 status. Work on campus is a benefit of F-1 visa status and no additional authorization is necessary. This work must be part-time, limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session, or full-time during holiday and vacation periods.

Work on any campus of the City University University of New York, including Hunter College, is permitted if the work meets certain requirements. Please see the types below as defined by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

Type 1: Employment by Hunter College or another campus of the City University of New York

This refers to any on-campus work for which you receive a paycheck (or other compensation, i.e. room and board) from the City University of New York.

Type 2: Other Employment at Hunter College or another campus of the City University of New York

This includes work on-campus for an outside contractor, if this work provides direct services to students. Please check with ISO if you plan to work for a contractor on campus.

Type 3: Off-campus employment where there is an official educational relationship between Hunter and the off-campus employer

  • USCIS regulations allow you to work at an off-campus location if the location is educationally affiliated with Hunter College.
  • The educational affiliation must be associated with your school's established curriculum
  • Or related to a graduate level research project which your school has contracted to perform, and the work is an important part of your program of study.

Requirements: You will need to have clear documentation about the relationship between Hunter College and the employer. Please consult with an ISO advisor.

Note: If you are uncertain whether any proposed employment would qualify as "on-campus" employment, as described above, please consult with an ISO advisor.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students are eligible for full-time or part-time employment, for a total of twelve months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) per educational level. OPT provides an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in an academic program to a practical work experience in the US.

Eligible students may apply for "pre-completion OPT” (before completion of program) and/or "post-completion OPT” (after completion of program).

Employment Requirements:

  • This employment must be a non-clerical job, and directly related to your major field of study.
  • Students do not need a job offer in order to apply for OPT.
  • OPT requires the student to have authorization from USCIS before you can begin employment. This authorization can take up to 3 months to obtain. Students recommended for OPT will receive a new SEVIS I-20 with an OPT recommendation notation. For additional information, click here.

I-9 Requirements:

  • Unexpired Foreign Passport
  • I-94 card stamped F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status)
  • I-20 showing OPT approval, issued by Hunter College/ The City University of New York
  • A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) either from Hunter College/ The City University of New York or another university

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 students may be eligible for CPT authorization for work experience that is a required or an integral component of the program of study. These experiences may include internships, student teaching, cooperative education programs and practical experiences which are a required part of the student's academic program, or for which academic credit is granted.

The dates of employment and full/part time, and approved employment site are also noted on the back of the I-20 form. There is no EAD issued for CPT.

Students authorized for CPT will receive a new SEVIS I-20 with the CPT notation. For more information on eligibility for CPT and application procedures, please see CPT Information.

I-9 Requirements:

  • Unexpired Foreign Passport
  • I-94 card stamped F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status)
  • I-20 showing CPT employment authorization, issued by Hunter College/ CUNY

Internship with an International Organization

If an F-1 student is offered employment in the form of an internship by a recognized international organization, he or she may accept such employment upon receipt of authorization from USCIS. Examples of recognized international organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. For more information, consult with an ISO advisor. For additional information, please see International Organization Information

Economic Hardship

F-1 students who experience a serious economic hardship due to an unforeseen change in their financial situation may qualify for off-campus employment authorization. Among the changes that may qualify a student for economic hardship authorization is unexpected loss of a scholarship, significant currency devaluation or large business loss by a financial sponsor. Students must be able to provide evidence of unforeseen economic hardship. For additional information, please see Economic Hardship Information


J-1 Exchange Visitor Employment

J-1 Exchange Visitors are students, faculty, researchers, and short-term scholars who have a DS-2019 issued by Hunter College/ The City University of New York.

J-1-Exchange Visitors with a DS-2019 issued by another institution may not commence employment until the International Students Office indicates that you may lawfully work in the United States. Click here for a list of acceptable documents.

Types of Employment for J-1 Visitors

Employment On-campus (please see description and requirements, above)

Economic Need  (please see description and requirements, above)

J-1 Academic Training (AT)

You may work under Academic Training following your graduation, for up to 18 months. You may also engage in Academic Training for 20 hours per week during the academic year while classes are in session; and 40 hours per week during the summer, winter, and holiday breaks. You should discuss the procedures for obtaining AT with your International Student Advisor/Alternate Responsible Officer).

I-9 Requirements

You must provide the department with the following original documents (required to satisfy List A-doc#4):

  • Unexpired foreign passport
  • I-94 card reflecting J-1 and D/S (Duration of Status)
  • DS-2019 (formerly the IAP-66) issued by Hunter College/ The City University of New York
  • Letter from the International Students Office ( J-1 students only)


Additional Opportunities in New York City

Mayor's Volunteer Center

For international students who wish to participate in volunteer work in any of New York’s five boroughs, the Mayor’s Volunteer Center (MVC) offers a great database listing hundreds of volunteer work opportunities. Bringing together individuals, corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, the MVC seeks to connect people and facilitate meaningful volunteer opportunities with the goal of improving the quality of life in New York City. This is also a great opportunity for OPT students who wish to maintain their status. Indeed, international students on Optional Practical Training cannot maintain their status if they stay out of work for more than 3 months, and volunteer work can help them fulfill that requirement.
Mayor’s Volunteer Center:

CUNY/311 Project

The CUNY/311 Project is accepting applications for part time employment from International students.

Both F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to work for the CUNY 311 project as "on-campus employment." As new hires, you will be processed through E-Verify to verify your identity and employment eligibility. You can be offered employment before you receive work authorization, but you are not allowed to work until work authorization is granted. Work authorization is granted by the Designated School Official (DSO), International Student Advisors Office, or authorized officer, including the Alternate Responsible Officer. Please note that the CUNY 311 Project will not provide work authorization.

In order to be hired and work for the Research Foundation, an F-1 or J-1 student must provide the following documents:

Hunter College International students in following declared majors or in graduate and undergraduate level programs in the following disciplines are encouraged to apply: Accounting, Anthropology, Community Health Education, Computer Sciences, Counseling, Economics, Educational Psychology, English, Foreign Languages, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics & Applied Math, Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL), Urban Affairs, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Women Studies.

Contact Career Development Services for applications. For more information please visit




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