Employing International Students

If you are employing an international student, know the number of hours students are allowed to work, ensure that students have proper authorization (if working off-campus) and assist students with having adequate paperwork to receive payment. For guidance on completing the Form I-9, you can refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services M-274 Handbook for Employers.


F-1 students working on campus do not require prior authorization from International Student Services (ISS). J-1 students must submit the J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization Form in MyGlobal before starting employment. Students may work up to 20 hours per week on campus during the fall and spring semesters. During winter, spring, and summer breaks, they are allowed to work full-time on campus, however, university policy limits students to 35 hours per week during official breaks.

See also: Eligibility for Student Employment (university enrollment policy)


International students working off campus must receive prior approval from ISS. For more information about the types of off-campus work authorization available to international students, review F-1 Student Employment. For a quick guide to understanding the differences between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT), the two most common forms of off-campus work authorization available to F-1 students, review the CPT vs. OPT Chart. Engaging in paid or unpaid employment without prior authorization from ISS or USCIS is a violation of the student’s immigration status.

International students who are in the US and have on-campus employment, such as a student worker position or graduate assistantship, should follow these steps to apply for a Social Security card and get ready to work. Students who do not have on-campus employment but are receiving a cash scholarship, may be eligible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead.

Step 1: Complete Orientation & Check-In Requirements

International students cannot apply for a SSN or complete the E-Verify process until at least 10 days after entering the U.S. and 2 days after their SEVIS records have been registered. SEVIS records cannot be registered by ISS until they have completed the check-in requirements. SEVIS registration may take up to one week to be completed. Students will receive an email once it has been completed.

Step 2: Request a Letter from International Student Services
Step 3: Apply for a SSN at at the Tucson Social Security Office

To apply for a SSN, international students must submit an application and present the following original documents at the Tucson Social Security Administration Office:

  • Immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019, passport, and I-94)
  • ISS Social Security Letter with original ink signature
  • University Employer Letter (F-1 students only) with original ink signature
  • Employment Authorization Letter (J-1 students only) with original ink signature

International students are not required to have a Social Security number before starting work. The Payroll office will still release checks without the SSN, but students must provide a receipt to show they have applied.

Step 4: Complete E-Verify

Before students can begin working, use E-Verify to confirm employment eligibility. Students should be prepared to present their immigration documents to you and complete hiring paperwork upon arrival.

Step 5: Create a Sprintax Calculus Account

After the department completes the new hire process, students should email the University Payroll Office to request a Sprintax Calculus account. Sprintax Calculus will determine how university payments should be taxed. If students do not create a Sprintax Calculus account, they will be taxed at the highest rate. Sprintax Calculus has a different purpose from Sprintax Tax Prep, which is used for the yearly tax filing process.

After receiving your SSN, students should upload a copy to their Sprintax Calculus account and the Payroll office


Students receiving a cash scholarship (tuition waivers excluded) will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Use the following steps to help your student through the ITIN process:

  1. Provide your student with a copy of the university award letter outlining the cash award to submit to ISS.
  2. Instruct student to make an appointment with ISS advisor to create ITIN.

Working off campus without authorization from ISS is a serious violation of immigration status and can result in a student’s record being terminated and their departure from the U.S. Remember that CPT or OPT is required for students even in unpaid positions. For any questions, please contact an international student advisor.