Employment as F-1 Student

Employment is defined as any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other benefit for the work performed and the position is normally an unpaid position, it will most likely not be considered employment. However, we advise you to consult with the ISSO before beginning any work (or service) outside UNL.

Types of Employment Available to F-1 Students

F-1 international students are eligible for employment on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus without approval from ISSO or USCIS. However, students must get a social security number before they are able to work on-campus.  

Positions include teaching assistantships, research assistantships, some fellowships, and hourly employment (landscape services, food services, or libraries, to name a few). Paperwork for on-campus employment is processed by the business office of the employing department/office.

F-1 students are restricted to the amount of hours per week they may work:

  • 20 hours per week maximum during Fall and Spring academic semesters
  • Full-time (21 hours or more) if on-campus during semester breaks, official University holidays or summer vacation 
    • Students should check with their department about the amount of hours they are allowed to work
An F-1 student may not work on-campus after program completion unless he or she has a new I-20 and plans to enroll the following semester in a new academic program (beginning an MS degree after graduating with a BS degree, for example). See an ISS Specialist for details.
Resources for Finding On-Campus Employment

Off-Campus Employment
    • Employment off-campus is available on a very limited basis in case of extreme unforeseen economic conditions.
    • Application must be submitted to and approved by USCIS.
  • Authorization is difficult to obtain. See an ISS Specialist for assistance.
Working without Authorization 

Potential consequences of accepting a paid or unpaid practical training opportunity without proper authorization may include: 

  • termination of your I-20/SEVIS record and loss of your F-1 benefits, including on-campus employment and OPT 
  • potential accrual of unlawful presence 
  • ineligibility for future visas that allow for work authorization, such as H-1B, O-1, TN, or permanent residency 
  • denial of your USCIS application for OPT 

You should meet with an ISS specialist as soon as you become aware that you have violated your F-1 status.