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How to work in the USA with a Student Visa?


There are many boxes to tick for ensuring your stay and studies in the US become a smooth experience. And a vital box to tick for your experience in the USA is the question of how you are going to take care of your expenses while you are in the USA?

Let’s take a few scenarios:

  1. You have taken a student loan back here to support your education expenses and without having the need to say – you have to pay a nominal amount every month to waive off the loan.
  1. In case you did not take any loan to assist your studies, you still have monthly expenses that you need to cover to lead a peaceful life in the USA. We are talking about accommodation, rent, food, and more.
  1. You have parents or others who’d be sending you money month and after month to take care of your daily expenses. And the same is being applied to pay off your loan as well – slowly. 

What category do you belong to? If 3 is what you fall in, there would not be any hiccups to hinder your studies in the USA. Like most students – if you have a certain amount of dependency (Re: Scenario 1 and 2) and choose to be self-dependent for your stay in the USA – you need to take control of the situation and do something to manage your expenses, right?

See where we are getting to? Wondering what can be done? A lot of students from India studying in the USA take up part-time jobs.

But are International Students in the USA allowed to work while studying? Short answer: Yes, but with some restrictions that you should never venture beyond. AT ANY COST.

Working in the USA with a Student Visa

Most of the International Students in the USA have something called an F1 visa that helps them to navigate the challenges. Using the F1 visa that you have, students are allowed to work and take up part-time jobs with certain rules and guidelines issued under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

>> Read: How to prepare for USA F1 Visa Interview?

There are two types of employment: On-campus employment and Off-campus employment for International Students in the USA with F1 visas. While On-campus jobs can be gotten with a little hard work, off-campus jobs are somewhat complicated and a hard nut to crack.

The first step we advise you to do is talk to your Designated School Official (DSO). Every school/university has a POC with whom you can discuss such things. As long as you have a valid F1 visa, it would not be a difficult thing, provided you have a decent academic track record. 

Later when you explain the need to work part-time, the Designated School Official (DSO) will showcase or recommend the “on-campus” opportunities available. You can explore the various ones on, check where you can fit in, and apply by submitting the necessary documents to the concerned. 


On-Campus Employment with F1 Student Visa

As the name suggests, this is a job where you get part-time placed for an occupation that happens inside the campus. Your student visa allows you and is legally permissible to get selected for an on-campus job. 

This could also mean a place that is not inside the campus – but is affiliated with the institution where you are studying – also can be considered as on-campus complying with the legal regulations. 

For example, working in a bookstore, library, cafeteria, or taking up some computer work inside the campus can be claimed as On-campus employment as all these take place within the vicinity of the campus.

(Disclaimer: These jobs are subjective and based on the availability during your time of enrollment. There can be more/less opportunities determined by your time of joining that can be enquired with your DSO.

USA On-Campus Employment FAQs

  1. What are the basic criteria for on-campus employment?

The very first thing that’s required in a student F1 visa would serve as the gateway provided with the introspection of technical/analytical finesse that you possess to take up this on-campus job.

  1. How many hours can I work while studying?

Yes, managing two things at the same time might not be easy for students. And also, you can only work upto 20 hours per week when the classes are in progress… so you can focus more on your academics.

  1. Can I work for more time during the holidays?

When the classes are not happening, you are allowed to work for more time on-campus (i.e.) during holidays, vacations, and so on. However, this is also subject to consent from the person/brand you are working for.

  1. Is any sort of clearance needed to work?

Yep, it is always advisable to keep your International Student Office in the loop before applying for a job. Apart from this, you can also seek guidance and know the to-dos of what it takes to work part-time in the USA.


Off-Campus Employment with F1 Student Visa

Unlike the on-campus, getting into an off-campus is complicated and has to go through a lot of legalities. Usually, F1 visa students are not allowed to work off-campus unless there’s consent and authorization from the DSO. (P. S. The nod comes from USCIS after a recommendation from college).

Also, students should have completed one year of studying in the USA, and those students who have proven economic hardships can only be taken forward into consideration for off-campus. However, there are these programs that can be utilized:

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Discuss with your DSO and check if you are eligible to complete these. And if done, you can be deemed okay to get placed elsewhere. 

Note: Any kind of off-campus employment with surpassing rules beyond the visa guidelines will be labeled illegal and should not be taken at any cost. Always check with your DSO and peers on the dos and don’ts. Do not engage in any illegal work by any means and place your future at risk.
Earning money w/o being dependent is truly liberating. But make sure you do it right away so the studies also can be excelled. Want to study in the USA? Not sure where to start or how to? Here’s how – Get in touch.


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