Employment Guide for International Students
International students must follow the rules and procedures for employment established by Boston University, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and their sponsoring agencies. This summary will help guide you through the process.
Finding and Starting Employment
International students who meet eligibility criteria to work on-campus may seek positions through either the Part-Time (long-term part-time and summer jobs) or Quick Jobs (short-term employment). You may also find opportunities through word-of-mouth, or by looking at job listings posted around campus by departments looking for help.
You may work only on campus unless you have received specific off-campus employment authorization from ISSO. There is a specific “On-Campus” category for our Student Job Service.
Students in immigration statuses other than F-1 or J-1 may be authorized for full-time or off-campus employment under certain circumstances, but must consult with an advisor at ISSO before beginning work.
Once students are offered a position, they should complete the next steps below. While individual departments, their positions, and students will have different needs, these are the basic international student employment requirements to complete.
- Complete a Form I-9.
- Complete the hiring process with your your supervisor or hiring department.
- If you do not already have one, you must obtain a Social Security number.
- Check with Student Payroll to see if you are eligible to sign a tax treaty. This cannot be done until you have received your SSN card and number from the Social Security Administration. This affects your federal and state withholdings for your earnings.
Payment and Taxes
All student employees are paid in a similar fashion. Please refer to our Getting Paid section for more information.
Like all student employees, international students are subject to both federal and state income taxes. However, students from countries that have tax treaties with the United States may be eligible to exempt a portion of their earnings from taxes. All tax information, including mandatory income filing for earnings, can be found in Tax Information for International Students.
Restrictions on Hours Worked
According to USCIS regulations, you may only work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. You may work more than 20 hours per week during vacation periods: winter intersession, spring break, and summer recess. Below is a quick guide for reference.
Part-Time or Full-Time Hours
If you are a student in F-1 or J-1 immigration status, you are permitted to work on-campus:
- Up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during semesters of required registration (Fall, Spring, and Summer if it is your final term).
- Full-time (over 20 hours per week) during vacation periods (Winter Intersession, Spring Break, and Summer Break if you will return in the Fall Semester).
- If summer is your first or final semester, then it is not considered a vacation period for you and you can only be employed part-time.
Please keep the following in mind…
Weekly-salaried paid teaching fellows, and research assistants are commonly considered to be working twenty hours a week and therefore cannot also work in an hourly-paid position during the academic year. If your department’s requirement is less than 20 hours per week, you may have another job, but the combined weekly hours for both jobs must not exceed 20 hours.
Residence Assistants working in Boston University dormitories are considered to working 20 hours per week and therefore should not work in another position during the academic year.
If you are concerned about the amount of hours on your student employee file each week, please contact our office to get more information about your personal student file.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is my Social Security Number for, and what do I do once I get my SSN card?
International student employees are required to obtain a Social Security Number for tax purposes. Due to each student’s country of origin and financial circumstances, students are asked to update Student Employment with their SSN either in-person or through secure electronic submission. The process to obtain a Social Security Number begins after a student has obtained a job offer.
Once you receive your Social Security card and number, it should be updated with Student Payroll using the options below. Any government identification should not be shared through regular email or phone.
- To submit in person, you should go to the FirstPoint counter at 881 Commonwealth Ave, 2nd floor with your Social Security Number card and BU ID.
- To submit electronically, you should send a secure email with the subject “SSN Submission”. If the hyperlink does not work, the full link is: https://firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use your BU email. The email message must include full Social Security Number and UID.
Since each student’s situation is different, you are encouraged to seek additional assistance from the following sources: