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International Students

International student employees must follow rules set down by the federal government when working on or off campus while attending institutions of higher education.  Supervisors must be aware of these special considerations. What follows are the details it is most crucial for supervisors to understand when hiring international student employees. 

International students may be eligible to work on campus depending upon their visa status.  International students study at Portland State in either F-1 or J-1 status.  Students in both categories are required to have written permission from the Office of International Affairs before starting their first on-campus job here.  This written permission facilitates their attaining a social security number (for which they are otherwise ineligible) as well as their entry into the PSU payroll system.  Students on J-1 visas must have written permission from their J-1 Student Advisor before beginning each on- or off-campus employment opportunity as this written permission is employer and job specific.  All references to international students in this handbook assume that the student has an appropriate visa. International students are responsible for knowing the requirements and limitations of their visa status. Where the requirements or limitations of an international student’s visa differ from this handbook, the visa is considered authoritative. 

Listed here are some of the important guidelines for supervisors of International Student Employees:

  • International undergraduate students are considered full time if they are registered for at least 12 credits.  International graduate students are considered full time if they are registered for at least 9 graduate credits.  If the student does not meet the full-time registration requirement, they may be eligible to work on campus.  This will need to be cleared with the Office of International Affairs if the term is not summer term.    
    • Exceptions to the credit requirement include, but are not limited to, academic reasons, medical reasons, final term of study, and graduate thesis / dissertation / project.  In all cases, the international student must speak with the Office of International Affairs.
    • An international student cannot work more than 30 days before the student’s academic program starts unless they are transferring to PSU from another U.S. institution of higher education.
    • An international student may only work 20 hours per week while school in session.  The definition of when school is in session is first day of term to last day of finals week.  International students may work more than 20 hours per week during breaks (e.g. after finals and before classes start) and during summer session on the proviso that they are not taking more than one or two classes during their summer term.   An international student may work up to full time when school is not in session.  Students are responsible for monitoring their hours. 
    • In some cases, unforeseen financial hardships may allow for a special type of work authorization if the international student can demonstrate a hardship as determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  If approved for this type of work authorization, DHS will issue an Employment Authorization Document.  This work authorization allows the student to work up to 20 additional hours / week, but only if the employing department has available funding and approves extra hours.  The student must provide written confirmation of the economic hardship work authorization and the expiration date from the student’s international advisor to the student’s supervisor.
    • International students who obtain a position that provides curricular practical training may work additional hours off-campus as authorized by the Office of International Affairs. 
  • When an international student graduates, the student’s on-campus employment authorization ends on the Friday of finals week.  The student is responsible for monitoring the end date.  International students are NOT allowed to work beyond the term in which they complete their degree requirements, unless:
    • If an international student is continuing his/her education at PSU after graduation, the student may work between enrollments.  However, if the international student is continuing their education at another institution, the student’s employment ends on the Friday of finals week. 
  • International students are eligible for a vacation term after being enrolled for 9 consecutive months.  They may work full time on campus during this term.  An additional eligibility requirement is that the student must enroll again at Portland State in the term following the vacation.
  • An international student must have a Social Security card to be employed on campus. If an international student does not have a Social Security card, the international student will need a letter of offer from the department that has offered the student a job.  Next, the international student should take the letter of offer to International Student and Scholar Services, where an on-campus work authorization letter will be issued. The international student should then take the letter of offer and the on-campus work authorization letter and other required documents to the Social Security Administration Office. Visit the following websites for more information: (F-1 Students) (J-1 Students). The Social Security Administration Office will issue the international student a receipt. Portland State University’s Human Resources Office will accept the “receipt” as proof of employability until the international student receives the social security card in the mail.
  • If an international student is having difficulties with employment which appear to be culturally based, the student or supervisor may refer to the Office of International Affairs for assistance.
  • All international student employees are subject to PSU policy and state and federal labor laws, including such limitations as a maximum of 130 hours per pay period.
  • International student employees are restricted by Federal law from working more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. During the annual vacation term and when school is not is session, these students may work full time. The annual vacation term is generally summer.  If a student enrolls for a full course of study in summer, it is NOT considered a vacation term and that student is therefore restricted to 20 hours of employment per week.