The rules and regulations pertaining to employment for F-1 visa holders are complex. Before accepting any employment AND before working, please discuss your options with an immigration advisor. Unauthorized employment is very serious and will negatively impact your F-1 visa status. Your F-1 student visa permits you to work on campus at the university that issued your I-20 while you are enrolled in a full course of study. Your MSUM I-20 is your proof of work eligibility for on-campus employment at MSUM only. You must maintain F-1 status to be eligible for this employment benefit.

If you are an F-1 student, you are eligible to work on-campus as long as you meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are a degree seeking full-time student in an MSUM degree program
  • Registered for 12-credits (Undergraduate Students) or 8 credits (Graduate students) during the semester you are working
  • If you are planning to work during the summer semester, you must be registered for either summer or fall courses at MSUM
  • You have a valid, unexpired I-20 from MSUM
  • You have a valid, unexpired passport
  • Copies of your I-20
  • I-94 Record
  • Most departments will require a minimum GPA to work
  • Obtain a paid job offer on campus
  • Complete the work authorization process at International Student Services
  • You may not work more than 20 hours per week on campus

Definition of On-Campus Restrictions

Employment is limited to part-time positions during the school year; full-time positions are permitted during official vacation periods. For hourly positions, part-time employment is a maximum of 20 hours per week; full-time employment is over 20 hours per week.

Your employment may take place at any MSUM office or department, or a commercial firm located at MSUM that provides direct services to students (e.g., Sodexo, Affinity Plus bank). On-campus employment also includes graduate assistantships or teaching assistant positions at MSUM.

In certain circumstances on-campus employment may include off-campus sites under "extended" on-campus employment (i.e. Regional Science Center). You can work at an off-campus site if it is a requirement of the on-campus department you are working for and you must be paid through MSUM.


If you meet the above criteria, have the hiring department supervisor complete the F-1 Employment Authorization form and work with ISS and MSUM student payroll office.

Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique, 9-digit taxpayer identification number used for taxpayer identification, income reporting, and record-keeping purposes. A Social Security Number is not work authorization. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues numbers to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents and to eligible foreign nationals. Eligibility to apply for a social security number is dependent on one's eligibility for employment in the U.S.

Everyone who is employed in the U.S. must have a social security number. Once issued, the number is valid for a lifetime. If you have been issued a number previously, do not apply for another as this will cause confusion in your tax records. If you do not have a social security number, you will need to visit one of the local Social Security Administration offices to apply for one. Keep this number / card in a safe place.  Do not give the number out to just anyone.

Who Can apply?

F-1 and J-1 students are eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) only if they are in-state and currently holds a job. You do not need to have a SSN in order to rent an apartment, apply for cell phone or a driver's license if you are an international student.

Documents needed to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

ITIN is a tax processing number, issued by the IRS, for certain resident and non-resident aliens, their spouses and their dependents. A nine digit number in the same format as the SSN (9XX-8X-XXXX), begins with a "9" and the 4th and 5th digits range from "70" to "88" and only available to individuals who need a tax payer identification number for valid tax purposes and who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, an SSN from the Social Security Administration. For more information on applying for an ITIN number and where to mail the form, please read information on Taxpayer Identification Numbers from IRS.

Immigration regulations extremely limit an international student's eligibility to accept employment off campus. Students found working illegally are in violation of F-1 status and are in serious risk of having their F-1 visa revoked. We strongly encourage international students to obtain proper authorization prior working off campus. Students may feel they are gaining short-term financial advantages by working off campus unauthorized, but it has potential long-term devastating immigration effects. Please visit International Student Services to discuss your options.

Please note: International students cannot participate in Pracs medical testing or giving blood or plasma for money. Financial gain from the above is still unauthorized employment. If caught it can result in deportation, immigration fines and lose F-1/J-1 privileges.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that trains you in your particular field of study for which you fulfill academic credit or part of your degree requirement. It can be a paid or unpaid internship, cooperative education job, a practicum or other program-related job. If interested, students must submit a CPT application to International Student Services.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is working in your major area of study as authorized by the USCIS. A student must enroll one full academic year to be eligible to apply for OPT benefit. Students interested in applying for OPT first must fulfill all the requirements from our OPT page before making an appointment with International Student Services.

24-Month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT Extension)

Students from certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs are eligible to apply for a one-time 24 month extension. Please note: students must notify International Student Services when you change employers, jobs and/or if you are unemployed during OPT period.

Off-Campus Work Permission Based on Unforeseen Financial Change (Limited Eligibility)

This benefit is available for students have completed at least one academic year and have proved a severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond the students' control which arose while maintaining F-1 status, and that campus employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient. This type of employment is extremely rare. Students must submit an application with USCIS and approval of the application is not guaranteed. If students want to pursue this option, please make and appointment once all the requirements have been met at our Economic Hardship page.