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Employment

The primary purpose of the F-1 and J-1 programs is academic study; however, students also have the opportunity to engage in work life in the United States.

Employment Overview


The primary purpose of the F-1 and J-1 programs is academic study; however, students also have the opportunity to engage in work life in the United States.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provide a variety of opportunities, though specific and limited, for F-1 and J-1 international students to be employed during their studies. Students must first seek approval for the appropriate work authorization type. Working without proper authorization is a serious violation of F-1 and J-1 student status.

  • F-1 and J-1 students are authorized to engage in on-campus student employment and are subject to the University's policies governing employment and work hours. While F-1 students do not need authorization from ISS to work on campus, J-1 students must obtain authorization before they may start work.
  • F-1 students may engage in practical training related to their major during or after their undergraduate studies. Three types of training are offered and must be approved by ISS: 1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT); 2. Pre-completion Optional Practical Training; and 3. Post-completion Optional Practical Training.
  • J-1 students may engage in practical training related to their major during or after their undergraduate studies. Two types of training are offered and must be approved by ISS: 1. Pre-completion Academic Training; and 2. Post-completion Academic Training.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor defines unpaid internships and volunteering in accordance to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    Unpaid Internships
    When considering volunteering or doing an unpaid internship, international students should be very careful to make sure that the internship really meets all seven of the criteria established by the U.S. Department of Labor:

    1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
    2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
    3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
    4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
    5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
    6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
    7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.


    Volunteering
    According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is an "individual who performs hours of service . . . for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered."

    Moreover, "The FLSA recognizes the generosity and public benefits of volunteering and allows individuals to freely volunteer in many circumstances for charitable and public purposes. Individuals may volunteer time to religious, charitable, civic, humanitarian, or similar nonprofit organizations as a public service and not be covered by the FLSA. Individuals generally may not, however, volunteer in commercial activities run by a non-profit organization such as a gift shop. A volunteer generally will not be considered an employee for FLSA purposes if the individual volunteers freely for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, and without contemplation or receipt of compensation. Typically, such volunteers serve on a part-time basis and do not displace regular employed workers or perform work that would otherwise be performed by regular employees. In addition, paid employees of a non-profit organization cannot volunteer to provide the same type of services to their non-profit organization that they are employed to provide." U.S. Department of Labor, Fact Sheet #14A
  • Students experiencing severe economic hardship due to unforeseen change in their financial circumstances may be eligible for off-campus employment authorization.

    Examples of severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control include:

    • loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student,
    • substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate,
    • inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs,
    • unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support,
    • medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

    Students seeking this employment authorization must meet eligibility requirements. While F-1 review and approval is done by USCIS, J-1 review and approval is by ISS. To initiate the process, access the links below for information about eligibility requirements and the application process.

    F-1 students

    J-1 students

Remember, employment options are limited to your immigration status and visa type. Unauthorized employment will result in termination of your status. If you have questions about your status and employment, please contact our office.

For career advising, internship information, and employment networking, contact the Ho’okele Department’s Career Services.

For on-campus student employment information, contact Human Resource’s Student Employment office.