There are different employment regulations for each visa category. Please be aware of the employment regulations associated with your current visa as there can be harsh penalties for violating employment regulations:
What constitutes Employment?Employment can be a vague term. For the purpose of the visa regulations, think of it in its simplest definition: “Compensation in exchange for service”. Churches often use different vocabulary which may cause uncertainty. If you are given a “love gift” or “honorarium” for “volunteer” service in a church or other organization, although not a paycheck, this would still most likely constitute employment and be in violation of certain visa regulations. If you are offered a scholarship from a church or other organization it can only be considered a scholarship if you are not expected to provide service to that organization in exchange for the scholarship. There can be severe penalties for violating employment regulations associated with your visa status.
F-1 Visas F-1 visa holders are not allowed to work off campus. The only employment allowed for an F-1 student is a part-time campus job. F-2 dependants are not allowed to obtain employment in any capacity. However, there are two exceptions for F-1 students:
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) – OPT allows an F-1 student to obtain employment related to their field of study for a maximum period of 12 months. It is designed to allow actual field experience that is complimentary to your program of study.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – CPT allows F-1 students to complete any applicable academic requirements for field internships.
For more info about CPT/OPT visit USCIS. For info on how to apply for CPT/OPT click here.
Additionally, there is an exception made for unforeseen economic hardship. If you are struggling financially due to an unforeseen loss of funding, unforeseen medical expenses, or other economic factors, you may be eligible to obtain employment. Please meet with your international advisor to discuss your situation and review your options.
J-1 VisasJ-1 visa holders are not allowed to work off campus. The only employment allowed for a J-1 student is a part-time campus job. However, there are exceptions for academic training. J-2 dependants are eligible to obtain a work permit and obtain employment on or off campus.
If you plan to enroll in an academic program on a non-immigrant work visa such as an R-1 or H-1B, you must continue to maintain the status of that visa. Many work visas only allow for part-time incidental study.