Working in the U.S.
Generally, there are three types of employment available to F-1 students. Please read the guidelines below for a brief description of each type and the process for getting authorization at Bellarmine. The Department of Homeland Security maintains this site with the rules for working in the U.S. Please also consult Bellarmine's Guide to Working in the U.S.
The Department of Homeland is very strict regarding employment for F-1 students and their dependents. Failure to follow these rules will result in a mandated, automatic termination of your student status. You must consult with International Support before beginning any work, clinicals, or volunteer opportunities.
When looking for internship or employment opportunities, be sure to consult with Bellarmine's Career Development Center. You have lifetime access to their help with resumes, interviews, and locating a position. Many local opportunities will be posted to Handshake.
Exchange students on J-1 visas are governed by different rules regarding work. Please consult our guidance for exchange students for more information.
All F-1 students are required to submit some form of paperwork to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), the federal government's tax office. Students with qualifying income (wages and certain types of scholarships) are also required to pay taxes. International Support will remind all students of these obligations in the first weeks of each calendar year; deadlines for these forms are April 15 every year.
Consult Bellarmine's basic guide to taxes for international students for a quick summary of the requirements. A local non-profit with specialists in F-1 taxes, the Louisville Asset Building Coalition, will also be invited to campus to help students. You may contact them separately at labservices.org.
Social Security Number
You will need a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) before you begin any paid work. Please consult the Social Security Administration's Guide to Applying for an SSN. F-1 students are not able to apply for an SSN until you have received a job offer. Notify International Support before you apply for an SSN.
The Louisville branch of the Social Security Administration is currently located at Room 101, 601 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202 and their number is +1 866.716.9671.
Your SSN is yours for life. It is a very important piece of identification in the U.S. Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet, do not discard it, and do not share it with others. Unsolicited phone calls asking for your SSN or claiming to be from the Social Security Administration are very likely scams. Consult with International Support if you ever have doubts.
Many international students make money by working on campus. On-campus employment refers to any job you perform on campus, paid by Bellarmine, or a third-party if your work is in direct support of the student body.
Contact Cheryl Love, in the Vice President for Administration and Finance Office, for open jobs on campus. You may be authorized to work up to 9 hours per week during the academic year and 25 hours a week during summer and official University holiday breaks for on-campus employment. Students who already have assistantships considered to be equivalent to 20 hours a week are not eligible for additional on-campus employment.
Authorization for work is obtained by filling out the Request for On-campus Employment Form and scheduling an appointment with the International Support.
Curricular Practical Training
Under the regulations for F-1 students, you have the opportunity to gain practical experience in your field of study before you graduate. This type of employment is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). It must be an integral part of your curriculum, such as a required clinical, practicum, or internship. It can be paid or unpaid. Please consult Bellarmine's Guide to CPT.
Consult with your advisor and relevant instructors. Once you are enrolled in an appropriate course and have obtained a position, complete the following:
Once these are completed and approved by your DSO, the CPT experience will be added to your I-20 and you will receive a revised copy. Do not discard your old I-20s and make sure you are only working when authorized on the latest I-20.
Part-time CPT does not affect your eligibility for OPT. 12 months or more of full-time CPT (more than 20 hours a week) will make you ineligible for OPT.
Severe economic hardship
On rare occasions, work is authorized due to an unforeseen change in financial circumstances. It is generally difficult to obtain this authorization. To learn more, schedule an appointment with International Support.
International students are able to donate time to a group or organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian. However, there are certain expectations of the difference between volunteering and work:
- No expectation of compensation
- The organization is a non-profit
- You are not replacing a paid employee
- You are not volunteering with the expectation of future employment
Volunteering and service are an important part of the Bellarmine student experience, and you may encounter volunteer experiences in your coursework. Please speak with International Support before participating so we can help.
Optional Practical Training
Most F-1 students are eligible for Optional Practical Training and choose to apply in order to work after graduation. OPT requires an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of the offices under the Department of Homeland Security. Find more information and the application form here.
International Support will help you through the application process. Review Bellarmine's Guide to OPT and consult International Support regarding any questions. Once you are certain you will apply for OPT, complete the OPT Request Form with your advisor. (Please note: the OPT application fee was set to increase on 2 October 2020, but has been temporarily paused due to a pending lawsuit. Check that you have the correct amount before submitting an application.)
USCIS is generally slow in processing OPT requests. You may not work before you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS, and we strongly recommend that you not travel outside the U.S. before receiving the EAD and securing employment.
As an F-1 student authorized for OPT, you are required to report any of the following to International Support within 10 days of the occurrence:
- If your name or address has changed
- If your immigration status has changed.
- If you have an interruption of employment
- If your employment has changed
If you plan on traveling outside the United States while you are on post-completion OPT, you are required to have a Travel Authorization Signature on your I-20 that is not more than 6 months old.
Students with degrees in certain STEM fields are eligible to apply for a two-year extension during the first year of OPT. Find out more about STEM extension eligibility and process, and read about STEM OPT reporting requirements.
Exchange Students (J-1 Visas)
The J-1 student has less opportunity, as a non-degree seeking student, to work. Currently, at Bellarmine, we offer the opportunity to work on campus. Very rarely J-1 students may qualify for off-campus work; similar to CPT, it must be a required component of a class. Consult International Student Support with questions.
- On-campus employment is defined as work done on the premises of the school.
- A J-1 student may be authorized to work up to 8 hours per week during the academic year and 25 hours a week during summer and official University holiday breaks for on-campus employment. Students who already have assistantships considered to be equivalent to 20 hours a week are not eligible for additional on-campus employment.
- Contact Cheryl Love, in the Vice President for Administration and Finance Office, for on-campus employment opportunities. firstname.lastname@example.org or 502.272.8263.
- Once you complete your academic program, you are no longer eligible for on-campus employment unless you have obtained employment authorization based on academic training.