With prior authorization from either ISSS or the US government, F-1 and J-1 students can work on or off campus while studying at American University.

Attention: Most volunteer positions will require employment authorization. Consult with ISSS.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 and J-1 students who are enrolled full-time and in good academic and immigration standing are eligible to work on-campus part-time (20 hours a week or less) while school is in session and full-time (more than 20 hours a week) when school is not in session or during annual vacation.

J-1 students: If your DS-2019 was issued by another organization, please consult with your J-1 program Responsible Officer.

F-1 and J-1 students are not eligible for Federal Work Study (FWS) positions.

There are restrictions for working at third-party service providers on-campus. Please consult with an ISSS advisor.

  1. Find a Job On-Campus and Get Hired
  2. Request Employment Authorization from ISSS
    1. Log in to iEagle. Submit the On-Campus Employment Authorization e-form under Current Student. ISSS will process your request for authorization and notify AU Human Resources when your authorization has been processed.

      You must request authorization every semester you work on-campus. On-campus employment authorizations are valid from the first day of the requested semester or term (fall, spring, summer, or winter break)
    2. J-1 students must also obtain an authorization letter from ISSS before reporting to work.
  3. Schedule an Appointment with the University’s Payroll Office.  
    1. Follow all instructions available on HR's website here
    2. The University's Payroll Office will provide detailed information about how to apply for a Social Security Card. Please direct specific questions to their office.
    3. Students working on-campus at third party service providers, such as the Campus Bookstore or the IAP office will contact them directly for the tax forms and the employment verification letter.
  4. Schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor to have your on-campus employment letter signed and stamped by ISSS and apply for a Social Security Card.

Off-Campus Employment

F-1 Students

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option for F-1 students engaged in an academic program for whom work is considered an integral part of their studies. CPT authorization allows you to accept a one semester paid or unpaid internship in your field of study.

Read about CPT eligibility and the steps to request authorization.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment benefit for F-1 students who wish to gain work experience directly related to their major field of study. Eligible students may be authorized for up to 12 months total OPT per degree level. OPT can be used during a student's studies (Pre-completion) or immediately after graduation (Post-completion).  

Read about OPT eligibility, application process, and reporting requirements.

Students with a job offer from a recognized International Organization on the approved, U.S. Department of State list may apply for employment authorization while in F-1 status.

Read more about international organization employment.

Under certain circumstances, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant employment authorization to F-1 Students who show clear evidence of the need for financial assistance.

Read more about employment based on severe economic hardship.

J-1 Students

Academic training is an employment authorization granted to J-1 students to gain further experience in their field of study. Academic training can be authorized during your academic program and/or after you complete your studies at American University.

Learn about eligibility for academic training and the application process.

If you are a J-1 exchange visitor accompanied by J-2 dependents, your J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization by submitting an I-765 (PDF) with other required paperwork. For details about the process, please contact ISSS.

Please note that J-2 dependents are not permitted to work or to receive a Social Security Number until they have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS. Processing time for the EAD card may take up to 3 months.

J-2 dependents with employment authorization may work until the end date on the EAD card or until the J-1 principal visitor completes his or her program, whichever comes earlier. J-2 dependents may apply to renew work authorization, as long as the J-1 visitor remains in J-1 status. If the J-1 visitor receives an extension of stay, the J-2 dependent must re-apply for work authorization after the extension has been granted. It is recommended that applications for extensions of the EAD card be made at least 3 months in advance of the expiration date on the card.

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F-1 and J-1 students may volunteer provided the opportunity does not require employment authorization. 

What is a volunteer?

Social Security Numbers

A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to receive payment for working in the United States. International students may be eligible to apply for a Social Security card if authorized for paid work on or off campus.

Do I Qualify?


Learn about U.S. taxes and your responsibilities for filing tax returns. 

Do I Owe Taxes?