How To Work and Study In The USA

Many international students in the USA face a range of financial challenges when studying in the country, as not only must you pay for healthcare, course materials and living costs while you study, you are also required to pay higher out of state tuition costs due to your status as a non-American.\r\n\r\nBut these costs needn’t be a prohibitive factor for anyone considering a period of study here, as there are plenty of opportunities to work and study in the USA to help with your financial situation. Here are some of the things you may need to know about working whilst you study in the USA.\r\n\r\n

Why Do I Need to work and study in USA?

\r\nYou may feel that focusing on your studies during your time in the USA would be the best use of your time, but international students who wish to gain the most out of their experience in studying abroad should immerse themselves in their new surroundings as much as possible. \r\n\r\nStudent life in the USA offers a wonderful insight into American culture, but of course a visit to a concert or restaurant may impact on your budget. \r\n\r\nTaking a part or full-time job not only enables you to afford more activities during your stay, it also opens you up to even more experiences courtesy of your new work colleagues. \r\n\r\n

What are the Requirements?

\r\nAll international students must first ensure they are legally allowed to gain employment within the United States before undertaking any paid work. Your eligibility depends on the type of USA student visa you hold, with some allowing for part-time hours and others preventing you from working entirely. \r\n\r\nF1 visa holders are prohibited from working off-campus in their first year, but may work on campus for less than 20 hours per week. In the second year you may work more hours and also off-campus, but an application to US Citizenship and Immigration must be made. \r\n\r\nThose with M1 or J1 visas may not work at all during their time in the USA, unless this is part of their practical training or study program.\r\n\r\nUnfortunately it should be noted that any on-campus employment earnings do not count towards the amount of money you need to prove your financial ability to reside in the USA, so do not rely on this to augment your current financial situation.\r\n\r\n

What Work-Study Programs Are Available

\r\nThankfully for those whose visas prohibit employment there are many American educational institutions who now offer specialised work-study programs which allow their students to combine evening and weekend classes with daytime employment. \r\n\r\nIf you are eligible for this program these jobs are typically related to your course, and there are a range of opportunities available at most colleges open to international students. \r\n\r\nWith part and full time jobs on offer both on and off campus, you will be paid a typical American wage by these employers, and you can undertake such a course whether you are an undergraduate or you are enrolled on a Masters course.\r\n\r\nIf you are interested in a work-study program you should ask your International Student Office about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities at your university.\r\n\r\n

Where to Find Employment

\r\nMost students will find it much easier to find and retain employment via on-campus opportunities, which are often advertised within student services. This may involve minimum wage roles in libraries, cafeterias, and on-campus stores earning little more than $7.25 per hour, put it is possible to find better paying jobs depending on your university. \r\n\r\nBefore taking up these on-campus jobs you must first obtain permission from your International Student Office, who will also assist you in determining your eligibility and arranging your paperwork. \r\n\r\nIf you are eligible for off-campus work then check your local and student newspaper’s vacancies section, and ask your International Student Office about which websites may advertise other local opportunities.\r\n\r\n

Hardship Employment

\r\nIf you are an F-1 student and you are suffering severe economic hardship due to your inability to work then you may be given special dispensation by the USCIS to work. The document required is called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and is obtained by providing evidence of your economic hardship. \r\n\r\nYou must also prove that your unfortunate circumstances were unforeseen, with eligible criteria including loss of financial aid or on-campus employment, currency exchange rate fluctuations, tuition or living cost increases, medical bills, or other unexpected changes to your expected financial support or expenses. \r\n\r\nIf granted permission you may then work 20 hours per week in term time and full-time during course breaks.\r\n\r\n

Post-Graduation Employment

\r\nWhereas many countries offer students the chance to study and work for a period of time once their course has ended, international post-graduates in the USA may only work for one year after your final examination. \r\n\r\nYou are also required to work in a field which bears relation to your area of study, and before you begin working you must first apply for an Optional Practical Training permit. However, if your employer is willing to approve your application you may be able to extend this permit.