F-1 and J-1 International Students working on-campus

General Eligibility and Limitations
ACU international students who are in F-1 or J-1 immigration status are eligible to work on-campus.  However, according to the 8th Code of Federal Regulations (214.2(f)(9)(i), they are limited to 20 total hours of work per week during the Fall and Spring semesters. A week is defined as Sunday through Saturday, regardless of the ACU pay cycle. This cumulative limit includes graduate assistantships, work with on-campus contract employers (such as Aramark) and hourly paid or temporary work for ACU departments.

“On-campus” Defined
“On-campus employment” is defined as employment that takes place on campus for the benefit of students. Employers may be either ACU or an on-campus contract commercial firm, such as Aramark.  Employers may not remove a US worker to hire an international student.  Construction work on campus is specifically excluded.  Work at off-campus locations that are “educationally affiliated with the school” may qualify as on-campus work for F-1 and J-1 students, but please contact Lucy Dawson to discuss the particular situation.

Allowable Time Periods
F-1 and J-1 students may work full time “when school is not in session or during the annual vacation.”  Summer work is limited to students who:

  • have not graduated, and
  • are eligible and intend to register for the following Fall term

Students who graduate must cease their on-campus work by the date of graduation.  Incoming transfer students are only eligible to work on campus after they have completed the transfer procedures and have an ACU I-20 document.

After Graduation and Dependents
International students who are graduates of ACU may be eligible to work full time at ACU as a regular employee, if they have US government-issued work authorization, which is an employment authorization document (EAD) card, Form I-766.

F-2 dependents are not eligible to work or enroll in a full course of study.  J-2 dependents may work but only with an EAD card.  J-2 dependents may enroll in a full course of study.  Please be aware that “work” is defined as any service for which one receives any remuneration or benefit.  This “benefit” may be wages, but could also be other things such as goods, a meal or a promise of future employment.

Compliance Issues
It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to limit his/her work hours and follow all appropriate regulations, but supervisors will need to be aware of these limitations when scheduling the student’s hours.  Due to cultural differences, international students may not feel they have the ability to object when they are scheduled for too many hours, or may think their employment may be in jeopardy if they mention the limitations to their employment.

ACU as an institution also has a responsibility to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report illegal work activities that occur through the institution as part of our “institutional knowledge.”  Therefore, as part of our compliance effort, this memo is also a request for supervisors and others to report to the CIE any known incidents of international students working outside the parameters of their permission, including F-1 or J-1 students working over 20 total hours per week during the Fall or Spring semesters.

I-9 Issues
Lastly, according to the I-9 regulations, each person responsible for hiring ACU students must ask potential employees if they have US government-issued work authorization before hiring the student, and make sure Section I of the I-9 is filled out during the first day of work.  Failure to do so puts the student’s immigration status in jeopardy and potentially also puts ACU at risk for breaches of compliance.

The immigration information in this memo is general and is intended for employees of Abilene Christian University.  It should not be taken as legal advice.  Please contact the Office of Legal Services if you need legal advice related to international students working on campus.  International students should be advised to seek an immigration attorney if they need legal advice.

Please contact Lucy Dawson for questions relating to F-1 and J-1 immigration issues at ACU.