Employment is defined as any type of work or service in exchange for money, tuition, food, room or other form of compensation. International students in valid F-1 or J- status are permitted to work under certain circumstances. Employment options are limited, but may include both on-campus and off-campus, full-time or part-time, or sponsorship of an H-1B. (see below)
All international students, researchers, professors, and post-docs (e.g., F-1/OPT/STEM OPT, J-1 or H-1B) go through the same employment process at URI, which requires the interaction of several URI administrative units (e.g., the sponsoring department, Human Resources, OISS, and the Payroll Office) and government agencies (e.g., DHS, Labor Department, State Department, and the Office of Social Security Administration).
- F-2 dependents cannot accept employment or monetary compensation of any kind.
- J-1 student-interns can work a full work load (35 hours) and receive wages at URI locations and/or affiliated employers only.
- J-2 dependents are permitted to work with permission from the Department of Homeland Security (any location). They must obtain an Employment Authorization Document/EAD card before beginning employment.
If you have been offered employment by a URI department (all forms of employment), please consult your department secretary to receive information on the steps you must follow to complete the Human Resources and Payroll Office employment requirements. You will need the items listed below to complete this process.
Ask your department administrative assistant to assist you in understanding the employment requirements and forms listed below. To complete the employment process at URI, bring your completed form to the Payroll Office along with the following documents:
- Human Resources Forms (I-9, Drug Free Form, Internal Payroll form, W-4 Form, etc.);
- Original I-20 or DS-2019
- Valid Passport with Visa stamp
- I-94 Number
- Social Security Card/Number
- Approval notice (if an H1B VISA)
- Foreign National Information Form
- FICA Exemption Form
The URI Payroll Office will enter the information from your documentation into our Windstar software to determine your taxability. The Windstar software will print out the necessary tax documents which you will need to sign. We will forward those tax documents to the Federal government for processing.
Social Security Process
Social Security Card/Number
A social security card allows you to receive wages from your employer. The Social Security Administration will only issue Social Security Cards to F-1/J-1 students that have received a job offer. The Social Security Administration must verify their documents and status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the University of Rhode Island Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) before issuing a Social Security Number (card). Receiving a SSN/card will take fifteen to thirty days.
To apply for and receive a social security card you must bring the following original documents to the Social Security Administration:
- Original I-20 or DS-2019
- Valid Passport with Visa stamp
- I-94 number
- Completed Social Security Application
- Letter from the OISS verifying your current immigration status
- Promise of employment (letter from employer, CPT authorization or original EAD card)
In general, both F-1 and J-1 students without an assistantship/fellowship are permitted to work on-campus (with permission from OISS) and off-campus (with permission from the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services/USCIS.). Any employment that is not authorized by the OISS will be considered as unlawful employment.
On campus employment can be part-time (19 or less hours) during the academic year and full-time (20 to 35 hours) during school official breaks or vacation. Off campus employment categories for international students include: Academic Training (J-1 visa), Curricular Practical Training (F-1 visa), Severe Economic Hardship, and Optional Practical Training (F-1 visa). Look below for additional instructions about this categories of student employment.
F-1/J-1 Student Off-Campus Employment
Academic Training allows a J-1 student to engage in employment, a URI internship, or co-op experience while school is in session or after classes have come to a close. The employment must be directly related to the student’s field of study.
• Academic Training (in PDF Format)
• AT Certification Form (in PDF Format)
For questions and/or individual appointments concerning Academic Training, contact Melissa de Jesus: firstname.lastname@example.org
CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study. A designated school official (DSO) may authorize CPT during your first semester if your program requires this type of experience. Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows that the CPT request has been approved. Please note, if you have used 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will become ineligible for OPT.
• Part-time CPT – Up to 20 hours while school is in session
• Fill-time CPT – Up to 40 hours when school is not in session
• CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement and an offer letter from an employer
• Curricular Practical Training Instruction Request
• Academic Advisor Certification Form
Contact Amie Limon: email@example.com, for questions and/or meetings concerning Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Only students whose financial situation has changed unexpectedly and/or beyond their control may apply for Economic Hardship. Applicable Examples: loss of financial aid, unexpected loss of sponsorship (partial or total), substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, large increases in tuition, medical bills, living costs, and/or other substantial unexpected expenses.
• Instructions to Request Economic Hardship
• Form I-538
• Form I-765
• Form I-765 Instruction
• Photo Instructions
Optional Practical Training/OPT (F-1 Only):
Temporary employment for practical training that is directly related to the student’s major area of study and commensurate with the degree level. In most cases, students request Optional Practical Training during their last semester prior to graduate; or during their last semester while writing the thesis.
• Instructions to Request Economic Hardship
• Form i-538
• Form i-765
• Form I-765 Instruction
• Photo Instructions
Contact Amie Limon: firstname.lastname@example.org, when processing an OPT request,
In addition, for the employer with whom you are seeking the 17-month OPT extension, you must include the employer name as listed in E-Verify, along with the E-Verify Company Identification Number, or a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number.
Students who file their STEM extension applications with USCIS on time, may continue working while their applications are pending for 180 days or the date of the decision, whichever date is earlier. This interim extension minimizes disruption in the student’s employment and also ensures that employers will conduct the necessary employment eligibility re-verification.
What must a student do after being granted the 17-month STEM extension?
After being granted the 17-month STEM extension, the student must report to his or her DSO (by e-mail, within 10 days) changes in any of the items below:
• Student legal name
• Residential, mailing, and e-mail address
• Job title or position
• Employer name and address
• Supervisor name and contact information
• Employment start-date and end-date
Even if there have been no changes, the student must also report to his or her DSO every six months (by email), confirming the information listed above. The requirement to report continues if the student’s 17-month STEM extension is extended further by the automatic cap-gap extension.
The period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period is known as the “Cap-Gap”.
Cap-Gap occurs because an employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H-1B petition submitted more than six months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training. As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H-1B cap-subject petition is April 1, for the following fiscal year, starting October 1. If USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the accompanying change of status request, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1.
Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the cap-gap period. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap,” meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.
Eligibility for an Extension
H-1B petitions that are timely filed, on behalf of an eligible F-1 student, that request a change of status to H-1B on October 1 qualify for a cap-gap extension. Once a timely filing has been made, requesting a change of status to H-1B on October 1, the automatic cap-gap extension will begin and will continue until the H-1B petition adjudication process has been completed. If the student’s H-1B petition is selected and approved, the student’s extension will continue through September 30. If the student’s H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, or is not selected, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice or their program end date, whichever is later, to prepare for and depart the United States.
Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap-gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing.
Please note: F-1 students who have entered the 60-day grace period are not employment-authorized. If an H-1B cap-subject petition is filed on the behalf of a student who has entered the 60-day grace period, the student will receive the automatic cap-gap extension of his or her F-1 status, but will not become employment-authorized (since the student was not employment-authorized at the time H-1 petition was filed, there is no employment authorization to be extended).
Those Not Qualified for an Extension
F-1 students who do not qualify for a cap-gap extension, and whose periods of authorized stay expire before October 1, are required to leave the United States, apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad, and then seek readmission to the United States in H-1B status, for the dates reflected on the approved H-1B petition.
Proof of Continuing Status
To obtain proof of continuing status, a student should go to their Designated School Official (DSO) with evidence of a timely filed H-1B petition (indicating a request for change of status rather than for consular processing), such as a copy of the petition and a FedEx, UPS, or USPS Express/certified mail receipt. The student’s DSO will issue a preliminary cap-gap I-20 showing an extension until June 1.
If the H-1B petition is selected for adjudication, the student should return to his or her DSO with a copy of the petitioning employer’s Form I-797, Notice of Action, with a valid receipt number, indicating that the petition was filed and accepted. The student’s DSO will issue a new cap-gap I-20 indicating the continued extension of F-1 status.
Denied H-1B Petitions
If USCIS denies, rejects, or revokes an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by the automatic cap-gap extension of status, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from the date of the notification of the denial, rejection, or revocation of the petition) before he or she is required to depart the United States.
For denied cases the 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to the discovery of a status violation, misrepresentation, or fraud. The student in this situation is not eligible for the automatic cap-gap extension of status or the 60-day grace period. Similarly, the 60-day grace period and automatic cap-gap extension of status would not apply to the case of a student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of a status violation, fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, the student would be required to leave the United States immediately.
Travel during Cap-Gap Extension Period
A student granted a cap-gap extension who elects to travel outside the United States during the cap-gap extension period, will not be able to return in F-1 status. The student will need to apply for an H-1B visa at a consular post abroad prior to returning. As the H-1B petition is for an October 1 start date, the student should be prepared to adjust his or her travel plans, accordingly.
The 90-day, or 120-day for STEM OPT, limitation on unemployment during the post-completion OPT authorization continues during the cap-gap extension.
STEM OPT Extensions
F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension of such authorization. F-1 students may obtain additional information about STEM OPT extensions on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program website at www.ice.gov/sevis.
Students who are eligible for a cap-gap extension of post-completion OPT employment and F1-status may apply for a STEM OPT extension during the cap-gap extension period. However, such application may not be made once the cap-gap extension period is terminated (if the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or revoked), and the student has entered the 60-day departure preparation period.
Start Date Issues
If the students’ OPT end dates are shortened to September 30, even though their H-1B employment would not begin until a later date, the student should contact their DSO. The DSO may request a data fix in SEVIS by contacting the SEVIS helpdesk.
Changes in Employment
Laid Off/Termination from H-1B employer: If the student has an approved H-1B petition and change of status, but is laid off/terminated by the H-1B employer before the effective date, and the student has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion OPT, the student can retrieve any unused OPT. The student will remain in student status and can continue working OPT using the unexpired EAD until the H-1B change of status goes into effect. The student also needs to make sure that USCIS receives a withdrawal request from the petitioner before the H-1B change of status effective date. This will prevent the student from changing to H-1B status.
Once the petition has been revoked, the student must provide their DSO with a copy of the USCIS acknowledgement of withdrawal (i.e., the notice of revocation). The DSO may then request a data fix in SEVIS, to prevent the student from being terminated in SEVIS on the H-1B effective date, by contacting the SEVIS helpdesk.
If USCIS does not receive the withdrawal request prior to the H-1B petition change of status effective date, then the student will need to stop working, file a Form I-539 to request reinstatement, and wait until the reinstatement request is approved, before resuming employment.
Student finds a new H-1B job: The student can continue working with his or her approved EAD while the data fix in SEVIS is pending if the (former) H-1B employer timely withdrew the H-1B petition and the following conditions are true:
• The student finds employment appropriate to his or her OPT;
• The period of OPT is unexpired; and
• The DSO has requested a data fix in SEVIS.
Note: If the student had to file Form I-539 to request reinstatement to F-1 student status, the student may not work or attend classes until the reinstatement is approved.
Pending Request to Change OPT End Date
Working during request: If the H-1B revocation occurs before October 1, the student may continue working past October 1 while the data fix remains pending, because the student will still be in valid F-1 status.
If the H-1B revocation occurs on or after October 1, the student will need to stop working before October 1, apply for reinstatement, and wait until the reinstatement request is approved before resuming employment.
Maintaining Valid F-1 Status: If the H-1B revocation occurs before the H-1B change of status effective date, the student is still in F-1 status while the data fix is pending.
If the H-1B revocation occurs after the H-1B change of status effective date, the student will not be in valid F-1 status and will therefore either need to apply for reinstatement or depart the United States.
H-1 B Employment
Specialty Occupations – H-1B
The H-1B visa is designed for foreign workers in “Specialty Occupations” and is used often to bring foreign professionals, professors and researchers to the American work place including: research foundations, hospitals and universities. Specialty Occupation is defined as an occupation that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in the field of intended employment. If the professional has a Bachelor’s degree but the position does not require at least a Bachelor’s degree to perform the duties, the occupation will not qualify for the H-1B visa category.
The H-1B visa may be held for a maximum of six years with an initial grant of up to three years. It is practical to request the maximum (three years) time period in the initial H-1B visa application process because filing is time-intensive and the fees involved can be costly. Requesting the maximum period of H-1B employment will eliminate the need for a re-filing process each year.
An important benefit of the H-1B visa category is that the Immigration Act of 1990 gives H-1B visa holders special protections if they are applying simultaneously for Permanent Residency.