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Students on F-1 and J-1 visas need to follow certain regulations to work in the United States. Learn about employment options for international students.

Section 1

On-Campus Employment

“On-campus employment” means:

  • You are working on the Lehigh University campus (Asa Packer, Mountaintop or Goodman campus)
  • You are working for Lehigh University
  • You are receiving payment from the Lehigh University Payroll Office

If you do not meet all of the requirements, contact an OISS advisor.

J-1 students must get OISS authorization before working on campus.

F-1 Students

F-1 students can work on campus up to 20 hours a week during the semester and full-time during breaks. F-1 students need OISS authorization to work off campus.

  • Please make sure to complete the payroll forms at  OISS no later than 3 days after your employment start date. We will then also provide you with instructions on how to apply for the Social Security Number.
  • Students arriving in the United States for the first time can begin working on campus up to 30 days before classes start.
  • On-campus employment ends when you finish your program of study, unless you receive a new I-20 for a new program at Lehigh.
  • You should only work at the school that issued your I-20. Taking classes at other LVAIC schools does not mean you can work there too.

J-1 Students

J-1 students enrolled full-time and in good academic standing can work on campus up to 20 hours a week during the semester if they are authorized by OISS. To get a job on campus:

  • Log in to iHome and fill out the On-Campus Employment Request.
  • OISS will authorize your employment in SEVIS.
  • Complete the payroll forms at OISS no later than 3 days after your employment start date. We will then also provide you with instructions on how to apply for the Social Security Number.
  • Contact the Lehigh University Controller’s Office for information about tax treaty benefits.

Finding a Job

The Graduate Life Office lists available graduate assistantships on campus.

Lehigh’s Center for Career & Professional Development offers career fairs at the beginning of the fall semester and can help with your cover letter, resume and job search.

The following campus offices typically hire the most student workers:

International students are not eligible for federal work study jobs.

Section 2

Off-Campus Employment for Economic Hardship

As an international student, you should be prepared to fund your entire education. However, on rare occasions, students face financial challenges beyond their control, such as a primary sponsor losing their income, a disaster at home or substantial unexpected expenses.

In this case, you can apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off campus due to severe economic hardship. If USCIS approves your request, you can work for one year at a time, up to 20 hours a week during school and full-time on breaks. Unlike CPT or OPT, employment on economic hardship does not have to relate to your program of study.

F-1 Students

To be eligible, F-1 students must:

  • Have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year (two semesters, excluding summer)
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Show proof that the circumstances that led to the financial hardship are beyond your control
  • Document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your financial needs

To apply, complete and sign Form I-765. Write (c) (3) (iii) in box #27 on the form. Then schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor and bring the following documents with you:

  • Completed and signed Form I-765
  • Check or money order for $410 payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
  • One-page statement explaining the circumstances that led to your financial hardship and why on-campus employment is not available or sufficient
  • Documentation of your financial situation at home, such as a statement attesting to loss of income or currency devaluation
  • Two passport photos taken within the last 30 days
  • Copies of your Form I-94, passport photo page, current visa page and all I-20’s

J-1 Students

To be eligible, J-1 students must:

  • Maintain a full course of study during fall and spring semesters
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Show proof of the financial or economic hardship

To apply, schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor. Bring your financial documents and proof of economic hardship. OISS will review your file and determine whether to authorize you to work off campus. If authorized, we will draft an employment letter for you.