shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

International Student Employment

Page address:


Click on the buttons above to display information regarding international student employment for either F-1 or J-1 students.

General Information

The following information is for those J-1 students on Minnesota State University, Mankato's J-1 exchange program P-1-04472. If the J-1 program is other than MSU, please consult your particular sponsor information for guidance.

Academic Training/Employment for J-1 students is the name now used by the United States State Department for certain types of study-related employment. It will tell you the conditions that you have to meet in order to qualify for Academic Training, and how to apply. Academic Training is flexible in its format and offers a variety of employment situations to supplement your academic program in the United States. It is available before completion of your program of study as well as afterwards. As long as you stay in the stipulated time limits, it lets you work part-time while classes are in session and full-time during vacation periods; and, under certain circumstances, you may interrupt study to work full-time, for example while you are writing a thesis. J-1 students in non-degree programs are eligible for Academic Training.

To Qualify

To qualify for Academic Training, you must first obtain approval in writing from International Student Office, who represents your J-1 sponsor and issues your Form DS-2019. ISO must evaluate the proposed employment in terms of your program of study and your individual circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. If your J-1 sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your J-1 Responsible Officer, ISO can help you to find out, but has no authority to grant employment permission.


  • Your primary purpose in the United States must be study rather than Academic Training.
  • You must be in good academic standing at the school named on your DS-2019.
  • The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • Throughout your Academic Training you must maintain permission to stay in the United States in J-1 Student Status, and apply for extension as necessary.
  • You must maintain health insurance coverage for yourself and J-2 dependents throughout your Academic Training.


Your employment may be authorized for "the length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the training, provided that the amount of time is approved by [both] the academic dean or advisor and the responsible officer." It may not exceed the "period of full course of study" or 18 months, whichever is shorter. Additional Academic Training beyond the 18 or 36 month limit, is allowed only if it is required for the degree.

Part-time employment for Academic Training counts against the 18 or 36 months limit the same as full-time employment.

Earning more than one degree does not increase your eligibility for Academic Training.

After completion of your program of study:

  • Academic Training approved after completion of your program must be reduced by any prior periods of Academic Training.
  • Academic Training following completion of your program of study must involve paid employment.
  • You must obtain a written offer of appropriate employment and present a copy to your J-1 Responsible Officer no later than 30 days after the end of your program, you will lose eligibility for Academic Training after completion.
  • If you plan to leave the United States after you complete your program of study and reenter the country for J-1 Academic Training, you must obtain employment authorization before you leave. Otherwise you will have trouble reentering. Consult the International Student Office for advice.

The Application

Obtain a letter of offer from your prospective employer that includes your job title, a brief description of the "goals and objectives" of your training program (your employment), the dates and location of the employment, the number of hours per week, and the name and the address of your "training supervisor" (the quotations come from the regulations). Make sure that your employer's letter includes all of these details.

Give a copy of your employer's letter to your academic advisor or dean. He or she needs to prepare a letter for your J-1 Responsible Officer which includes the following information:

  • The goals and objectives of the specific training and program.
  • A description of the training program, including its location, the name and address of the training supervisor, number of hours per week, and dates of the training.
  • How the training relates to your major field of study.
  • Why it is an integral or critical part of your academic program; and
  • How your ability to accomplish the goals of your academic training will be evaluated.

When your academic advisor's recommendation is ready, you should deliver or send it to your J-1 Responsible Officer, with a copy of the employer's letter attached.

Your J-1 Responsible Officer must evaluate the Academic Training program and decide whether it is warranted and appropriate. If so, he or she will write you a letter of approval.

Authorization to Work

A Social Security Number. To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. Take your passport (If you are Canadian, you may use another form of photo-bearing identification), I-94 Departure Record, the DS-2019 form, and your J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization to an office of the Social Security Administration.

Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification. "When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport, I-94 Departure Record, the DS-2019 form, and J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization. Form I-9 must be updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for Academic Training.

Social Security and Other Taxes

Social Security taxes. In general, as a J-1 student you will be exempt from Social Security (FICA) taxes for the first five years in the United States, as long as you continue to declare non-resident status for tax purposes (see Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, "US Tax Guide for Aliens," available through the Internal Revenue Service).

Federal, state and local taxes. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes. Employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 you must file a federal income tax return and a "Required Statement" covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming. ISO will sponsor a seminar by the IRS before April 15th each year to help you fill out your tax forms.

Word of Caution

As a J-1 student you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember that before you start any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.

On-Campus Employment

Undergraduates who are in good standing with the University and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session without USCIS approval. During your vacation periods you may work full-time if you are an undergraduate. Graduate students may work up to 14 hours per week as student help or 20 hours per week if on an assistantship. Reminder - all F-1 students should not work on campus more than 20 hours a week during the academic term even if you have multiple employers (e.g., Sodexho and MSU departments). Exceeding 20 hours per week during the academic term will negatively affect your immigration status.

Please check the [PDF] On-Campus work permit process (103 KiB) and go to the Forms Page if required. The forms must be turned in along with original documents (e.g., passport, I-20 or DS-2019); please come to CSU 250 for more information.

Need an on-campus job? Visit: Mavjobs

Need a Social Security Number?

You must have a job offer before you can get a social security number. If you have an on-campus job offer, please follow these steps:

  1. Have your employer fill out the [PDF] Employment Verification Form (54 KiB) and bring it to the Kearney International Center for a signature. (no appointment needed)
  2. Fill out the Social Security [PDF]application(59 KiB) (instructions are included)
  3. Take the Employment Verification Form, the Social Security Application, and your orginal immigration documents (I-20, Passport, Visa and I-94) to the Social Security Office:
    Mankato Place
    12 Civic Center Plaza, Ste 1550
    9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.(except holidays)
  4. Bring your receipt (a letter) back to the Kearney International Center.

Off-Campus Employment

Never Work Off-Campus Without Written Permission

Off-campus employment authorization, for employment in your field of study, is called "practical training." There are two types of practical training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

To be eligible for any off-campus employment, the student must:

  • Be enrolled for one academic year
  • Be in good F-1 student status in SEVIS
  • Receive written permission - apply in advance of the date of intended employment

Student employment both on-campus and off-campus is generally limited to no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. Some exceptions may apply. During school vacations/summer, employment may be full-time. Please speak with an advisor if you have any questions about how many hours you are eligible to work.

Need help finding a job? Visit Mavjobs

Off Campus Work - CPT(Curricular Practical Training) - Internships/Employment that is credit-based

An F-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus while school is in session and during school vacations primarily through Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

  1. Read the [PDF]CPT instructions and review the CPT Academic Advisor Form(473 KiB)
  2. Print the CPT Academic Advisor Verification Form [PDF]PDF(418 KiB)
  3. Turn in a complete application for CPT. A complete application should include the following:
    • signed CPT Advisor Form
    • copy of offer letter from internship/employer site
    • proof of registration of internship credit(s)
  4. Kearney International Center will process your CPT I-20 within 3-5 days. The CPT authorization is confirmation of your legal ability to work for those specified dates at that specific internship site in the U.S. Do not begin employment until CPT authorization has been approved and added to your I-20.

Off Campus Work - OPT(Optional Practical Training) - One year of employment authorization in your field of study

An F-1 student may request authorization to work off-campus through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Post-completion OPT allows an F-1 student to remain in the United States and work in a field related to their program of study for a period of one year. Students apply for post-completion OPT as they near the completion of their program of study (no earlier than 90 days before program completion date and no later than 60 days after program completion according to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(B)(2).

There are 5 Steps to apply for OPT

STEP 1: Obtain instructions and forms:

STEP 2 - View the [PDF] OPT Tutorial (3 MiB)

STEP 3 - Turn in the following forms (completed and signed) for review in CSU 250 or during an appointment with an advisor:

  • Supplemental Information for OPT Form
  • Form I-765
  • Check/Money Order for $410 payable to the US Department of Homeland Security
  • 2 recent passport-style photos ([DOC]
  • Copy of valid passport page (include extension if necessary)
  • Copy of most recent F-1 visa
  • Copy of I-94 card (front and back) or I-94 electronic printout
  • Copy of previous EAD card (if applicable)

Kearney International Center will process your OPT I-20 within 3-5 days. If you still have questions, you may make an appointment with an advisor.

STEP 4 - Send OPT application to USCIS/Immigration within 30 days of the OPT I-20 being issued. The Kearney International Center will provide mailing instructions. Review additional instructions on the website under I-765 form.

STEP 5 - WAIT. An F-1 student may not begin their OPT until they have their EAD (employment authorization document) card and the dates on the card are valid.

  • Disclaimer: CISS Advisors may review applications, make recommendations, and issue I-20s. The Kearney International Center staff is not responsible for incomplete or denied OPT or OPT STEM Extension applications. The student is responsible for submitting a complete application to USCIS.

Additional important resources after obtaining OPT:

An F-1 student must report any address or employment changes within 10 days. Address changes should be made through E-Services (updating your local and permanent address will automatically update your SEVIS/immigration record).

An F-1 international student is allowed only 90 days of unemployment while on OPT. Your SEVIS record will be auto-terminated if you do not have any employment information in your record after 90 days! You may update your OPT Employer Information in the link below. Please submit an update for each job (if you have multiple jobs concurrently).

If you experience difficulties opening the OPT Information Update page, please email with the following information for each job:

  • SEVIS ID #
  • Employment Start Date
  • Previous Employment End Date (if starting a new job)
  • Employer/Organization Name
  • Employer/Organization Address
  • If Employment is Full-Time (more than 20 hrs/wk) or Part-Time (less than 20 hrs/wk)
  • How employment relates to your program of study (immigration officials may question you about this, be prepared to justify if the connection is not clear)

OPT STEM Extension (2-year extension)

In March 2016, DHS published amended F-1 nonimmigrant student regulations on OPT for certain students with STEM degrees. The amended regulation, which provides for an extension of the OPT period by 24 months will go into effect on May 10, 2016. For more detailed information about OPT STEM, please visit the OPT STEM page on the Study in the States site.

Steps to apply:

STEP ONE: To determine eligibility to apply for the STEM Extension, match the CIP code on your Form I-20 to a STEM Eligible CIP code.

STEP TWO: Work with your current employer to complete the Form I-983 Training Plan.

STEP THREE: Turn in hard copies (CSU 250) or scanned copies ( of the following applications materials:

  • Completed Form I-983
  • Completed [PDF] Form I-765 (611 KiB) (with company's E-Verify Number in Section 17)
  • Check/Money Order for $410 payable to the US Department of Homeland Security
  • 2 color passport-style photos taken within the past 30 days ([DOC] photos that meet Immigration specifications (40 KiB))
  • Copy of valid passport page (include extension if necessary)
  • Copy of most recent F-1 visa
  • Copy of I-94 card (front and back) or I-94 electronic printout
  • Copy of current, unexpired EAD card (front and back)
  • Copy of your diploma. If degree is not yet attained, then a transcript showing completion of all course requirements, but still completing thesis/dissertation.

After submitting application materials to the Kearney International Center, an updated OPT STEM Extension I-20 will be issued within 3-5 days; mailing instructions will be provided. A signed copy of your OPT STEM I-20 should be included with your application materials.

STEP FOUR: Submit OPT STEM Extension Application materials to USCIS before your current OPT expires. To be eligible for the extension, USCIS must receive your application materials before the end date on your EAD card.

EH (Economic Hardship)

Students experiencing economic hardship for unforseen reasons may be eligible to apply for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization.