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Employment Employment

Can I work in the United States?

Students in valid F-1 status can work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during official college breaks. No official work permission is required.  For off-campus employment, authorization from both the Director of International Student Services and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is required.

What are the options for off-campus employment authorization?

Once an F-1 student has completed two consecutive semesters of full-time study at their home university they are eligible to apply for the following employment authorizations:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) occurs before a student's I-20 end date and must be a required component of a student's major area of study. Authorization is for one specific employer and period of time. Please note one full year of full-time CPT eliminates a student's eligibility for OPT.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a 12-month work authorization for students seeking off-campus employment in the United States in their fields of study. Students do not need to have a specific job offer to apply for OPT and are eligible for a 12-month period of OPT at every level of education. Application instructions are at this link.

Can I get a Social Security number or a Massachusetts Driver's License?

F-1 students may apply for a Social Security number if they have an on-campus employment offer or have off-campus employment authorization.  More information here.

Will I have to file U.S. tax forms?

Yes! Most students will need to file at least one tax form.  Students in F-1 status who have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years are usually considered nonresidents for tax purposes and must file the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8843.  Those who have had a U.S. source of income or receive a scholarship or financial aid must also file Form 1040NR or 1040NREZ and some may have to file a Massachusetts State income tax return.