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, including the following:

Work Eligibility | Enrollment and Work Hours | Performance Management | After Graduation

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Work Eligibility

International students are eligible to work on campus. F-2 dependents are not. Students in both categories are required to have written permission from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) before starting their first on-campus job here. This written permission facilitates

  • their attaining a Social Security number (for which they are otherwise ineligible) and
  • 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.  It is not transferrable. Employment authorization for J-1 students is given in 12-month increments and must be renewed if the student wishes to work longer.

All references to international students on this page assume that the student has an F-1 or J-1 visa. International students are responsible for knowing the requirements and limitations of their immigration status. 

Social Security Card Requirements

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:

  • Supervisor must complete the employment section of the F-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Form
  • The student may then submit this form to their International Student Advisor and Social Security Administration. 
  • 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.
  • Visit OISSS's page on Social Security Numbers for more information. 


Enrollment and Work Hours

Federal regulations allow international students on F-1 and J-1 visas to work up to 20 hours each week while the university is in session. If they work more than this, they will violate their immigration status and may need to return to their home countries, breaking off their courses of study. It is very important that this limit not be exceeded. Questions about this rule may be directed to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services

The academic term is considered to be "in session" from the first day of the academic term through the Saturday following finals week. Students may work more than 20 hours per week during the breaks between terms and during the summer term unless they enroll full time in summer. While it is the student's responsibility to monitor the number of hours they work each week, supervisors are strongly encouraged to help students keep an eye on this and to never ask students to exceed the federally set limit.

International students may begin working on the PSU campus up to 30 days before the start of their academic program. If they are transferring to PSU from another U.S. institution, it may be possible for them to begin working earlier than this. 

Generally, international students must carry a full course of study each term except their vacation term (usually summer).

  • Undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students are required by federal regulations to register for at least 12 credits each term;
  • Graduate students must register for at least 9 credits each term.

There are some exceptions to these credit requirements - as long as students are considered to be maintaining their immigration status and meeting HR requirements, they may still be allowed to work on campus. Some of these exceptions include academic reasons, medical reasons, the final term of study, and graduate thesis/dissertation/project. Please contact OISSS with any questions.

In some cases, international students may be allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. If a student is doing work that is directly related to their program of study, they may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training. Some students may have authorization from the Federal Government that allows them to work additional hours. These exceptions are rare and should be checked with OISSS.



Performance Management

If an international student is having difficulties with employment which appear to be culturally-based, the student or supervisor may refer to the OISSS, Human Resources, or the Office of Global Diversity & Inclusion for assistance. All international student employees are subject to PSU policy and state and federal labor laws.



After Graduation

On-campus employment authorization ends the Friday of finals week when an international student graduates. The student is responsible for monitoring this date. International students are NOT allowed to work beyond the term in which they complete their degree requirements, unless: 

  • They are enrolling in a new program of study at Portland State in the next available academic term (or the coming fall term if they graduate in spring). In this case, the student may work on campus during the time between the end of their first program of study and the beginning of their second program of study once their new I-20 has been issued.