Work or Training Opportunities for F-1 Students

Employment for F-1 Students (Social Security Cards and Taxes)

Students on F-1 visas have the opportunity to be employed in on-campus work or off-campus practical training opportunities. However, you must obtain the appropriate work authorization before starting your job. Working without proper authorization constitutes illegal employment.

For employment through Practical Training, please visit the Trinity – Curricular Practical Training (CPT)/ Optional Practical Training (OPT) webpage.

On-Campus Employment                                                              

On-campus work is limited to part-time (20 hours or less per week) when school is in session. It may be full-time (up to 30 hours per week) during official school breaks. You must have a Social Security card before you start on-campus employment.

After finding a campus job, you should complete payroll information, contact Trinity’s Payroll Administrator, Kris Doorn.

Social Security Cards

F-1 students can work for pay during their stay in the United States. However, wage-paying positions are limited to on-campus employment or part-time or full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)/ Optional Practical Training (OPT). In order to work, you must first receive a Social Security card. As an F-1 student, you are able to apply for a Social Security Number through the United States Social Security Administration. Prior to getting a Social Security card, you must show proof of impending employment (on-campus, CPT/OPT). You will need to visit a local Social Security Administration Office, with your I-20, Passport/Visa, and a letter from your employer outlining your job. Your SSN card, when approved, will be stamped “not authorized for employment without DHS authorization.” This stamp means that the Social Security card alone does not grant you work permission. However, the authorization – noted on page 3 of your I-20 – is granted in accordance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, and can be used along with your SSN to allow you to be paid and taxed correctly in the U.S. for your work.

You will then need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at the Social Security Administration Office in Palos Hills, Ill., at 10718 S Roberts Rd. You will need to bring the following documents to apply:

  1. Passport, visa, and I-20
  2. I-94 record
  3. Employment verification letter from the Payroll Office or Employment Supervisor.
  4. SEVIS record verification letter from the OISAS.
  5. SSN Application

You’ll receive a receipt from the SSA when you apply for your SSN–make sure you save the receipt. A couple weeks after you apply for your SSN, your card will come by mail. Let the payroll administrator know your SSN, in order to finish your payroll information. Your payroll will then be complete for your current job and any other campus job you might get in the future.

For more information about F1 students and Social Security cards, click here.


By law, international students are required to file a tax return. Keep copies of your tax forms for at least three years.

Here are some FAQs for paying taxes in the United States:

Do international students pay tax in the U.S.?
An international student will be taxed in the same way as a nonresident alien for U.S. federal income taxes. F-1 international students must pay tax in the US on the following types of income:

  • Wages and compensation
  • Salaries
  • Tips
  • Some scholarships/fellowship grants
  • Prizes/awards

What will I need in order to file my tax documents?
The first thing you will need is your W-2 form, officially known as a “Wage and Tax Statement.” This is an IRS tax form used to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld. You’ll need your W-2 to file your tax return, and your employer should provide this to you at the end of January of the next tax year. It will state the previous year’s earnings and tax withheld.

You will also need your Social Security Number. You will receive a 1042-S form from Trinity if you received a taxable scholarship (such as, for example a stipend or housing allowance).

When is the F-1 tax return deadline?
The deadline for all F-1 students to file their tax documents is 15 April (of every year). Missing the deadline may lead to some unwanted penalties, and jeopardize your chances of securing a U.S. visa or Green Card in the future.

How can I determine my residency status while in the United States on an F-1 visa?
In general, international students who are in the U.S. on an F-1 visa are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes for the first five calendar years of their stay in the U.S.

For more information about F-1 students and U.S. tax obligations, check out:
Sprintax Tax Preparation for non residents
DHS Filing Taxes 101