International Students Working

Working in the U.S.

The United States has very strict rules for international students who want to work in the United States and the opportunities are limited. Students with F-1 visa can only work with authorization from a Designated School Official (DSO). A social security card is not authorization.

Heidi workingOn-Campus Jobs

International students in an academic program who are enrolled full-time and in good academic standing are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, and up to 40 hours per week during vacation and holiday breaks.  ESL students are not eligible for on-campus employment.

The process is as follows:

  • The on-campus employer will hire you.
  • The employer will contact UNA Human Resources (for students working directly with UNA) or provide a letter of employment (for students working with Compass Chartwells or Panda Express, etc.)
  • Sarah Stevens will prepare two letters for the student.
  • The student picks up the letters and gets signature from employer.
  • The student will take the two letters to the Social Security Administration and apply for a U.S. Social Security Number*.
  • Social Security Number cards generally arrive within 10 business days.
  • You can begin work when your employer gives approval.

How to find an on-campus job

Lion Jobs

Listings of on-campus jobs can be found in several locations. Students should set up an account on Lion Jobs to be able to look through and apply to job listings.  The university food service company is Compass Chartwell. They hire employees directly. You can see their job listings at Talk to other students who work on campus for advice in connecting with an employer.

These jobs are competitive and limited in number. Visit the UNA Career Center (2nd floor GUC) to help you prepare your resume and to practice interviewing skills. 

*You cannot apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) until you have a job offer. 

Do you need a Social Security Number?

In the United States, a Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to citizens and eligible non-citizens. For employment, a SSN is used for taxation purposes. Only eligible students who have been offered authorized employment can apply for an SSN number.  This is federal law and is true in every state in the United States.

Can I volunteer?

Yes, no and maybe. If you have a regular volunteer opportunity, please come talk with Sarah Stevens. In the US, a true volunteer job - giving your time for free to the benefit of the community - is typically done at a not-for-profit such as a school or community organizations such as a library or pet shelter. It is not a normal US business practice to have volunteers do necessary work in a business such restaurant or gas station. The suspicion is that the volunteer is being paid illegally. To protect yourself, discuss your volunteer job. An honest job does not need to be hidden.

Study in the States - Working in the United States

Social Security Administration - International Students and Social Security Numbers

US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Employment