Employment Options for International Students

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment includes work done as a teaching or research assistant as well as jobs in the university library, dormitory dining facilities, laboratories, and administrative offices.
On-campus also includes employment with on-location commercial businesses which provide services for students on campus, such as stores or restaurants located in a University owned building (Examples: KUSSI (bookstore), Aramark (dining services), or PSECU (credit union)).

On-Campus Employment criteria:

  • You must be enrolled full time during fall and spring semesters.
  • You may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session (fall and spring semesters).
  • You may work more than 20 hours per week during official university holidays, breaks, and vacation period (winter term, summer term, and spring break).
  • If you currently have a full-time (20 hours) Graduate Assistantship, you are not eligible for additional on-campus employment. 
  • If you have multiple on-campus jobs,your are responsible for monitoring eligible hours per week. 
  • You may not continue to work on-campus after your program end date (graduation date). 
    • Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

      If you apply for a driver's license or get a job, you will have to apply for a social security number. It is used for employer payroll, Internal Revenue Service (federal taxes), driver's licenses and credit history.

      If you are applying for a driver's license, but do not have a social security number and have never had a job on campus, you will have to apply for and officially be denied a social security number. If you get a job on campus at a later time, you will have to re-apply for a social security number.

      Eligibility Requirements:

      • Present in the U.S. for at least 14 days
      • Registered in SEVIS

      Instructions for Social Security Number

      Instructions for Social Security Number Rejection

      Follow these instructions to receive a Social Security Rejection Letter:

      Social Security Application Documents:

      • Letter from the Designated School Official
      • Passport
      • Visa
      • Form I-20
      • Form I-94
      • Social Security application (get this online at www.ssa.gov)


      • Gather all documents listed above.
      • Go to the Social Security Office or mail the documents to the SSN Office. 
      • Keep your rejection letter in a safe place so you have it for your Driver’s Permit application.

      Social Security Number Application Process (for Employment)

      You will need a social security number to receive pay for your employment. You will use the same social security number for your entire stay in the U.S. You only need to apply for a social security number one time, when you receive your first job offer. If you get a new or different job, you will use the same social security number. Keep your social security card safe once you receive it.

      There is no fee for the social security application. You must be present in the U.S. for 10 days before applying for a social security number. Social Security offices are located in Reading and Allentown. Allow plenty of time when you plan your trip to the Social Security office, as there may be a long wait time.

      You will need the following items to apply for a social security number:

      • An Employment Verification Letter should be completed with all the following information:
        • name of the student employee
        • job description
        • anticipated or actual employment start date no more than 30 days in the future at the time of application for an SSN;
        • number of hours the student is expected to work;
        • employer identity number (EIN) (The KU EIN number is provided on the template letter. If you are hired by a an on-campus commercial business, the EIN number of the business must be provided).
        • employer contact information, including the telephone number and name of the immediate supervisor;
        • verification of the employment status (i.e. student has been hired);
        • original signature with signatory’s title and date.
      • A letter from the International Office verifying your enrollment status
      • Passport
      • Visa
      • Form I-20
      • Form I-94: Can request an electronic form here: cbp.gov/i94
      • Social Security application


      • Gather all documents listed above. Documents must be originals.
      • Go to the Social Security Office. You may be eligible to schedule an appointment before visiting your local Social Security office or card center. Plan at least 3 hours if you don't make an appointment. 
      • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place.

      Allentown Location
      41 N. 4th Street Allentown, PA 18102

      Reading Location
      201 Penn Street, Suite 200 Reading, PA 19601


    Severe Economic Hardship

    F-1 students who are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus. The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time. The authorization allows you to work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while you are enrolled full-time. It also allows you to work more than 20 hours per week during summer and semester breaks. This employment does not affect your Optional Practical Training (OPT) eligibility. F-1 students are only eligible for this authorization if:

    • You have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. 
    • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load.
    • You must demonstrate that employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control and that other employment opportunities are either not available or otherwise insufficient to financial support you.
    • Apply for Severe Economic Hardship

      If you are in F-1 status for an academic year and have good academic standing, you may apply for "off-campus employment based on economic hardship." Documentation would have to show that part-time employment opportunities through on-campus employment were otherwise insufficient. Economic hardship refers to the financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control which arose after obtaining F-1 status. These financial problems may be the result of losing a graduate assistantship, the death of a financial sponsor, inflation in your home country causing the devaluation of currency or exchange rate, etc. If the financial problems are too great, it may not be possible to solve the problem through part-time employment.

      You are required to make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying for off-campus employment based on economic hardship. If the economic hardship clause applies to your situation, please meet with the Designated School Official to request a recommendation for authorization to engage in off-campus employment. You may not work off-campus without special authorization from USCIS; unauthorized off-campus employment will result in termination of status. Please note, if you are authorized to engage in off-campus employment, you may only work part-time during the semester, and must continue to maintain a full-time course load. With authorization, you will be permitted to work full-time during regular university breaks.

      All off-campus employment must be approved by USCIS prior to job search and job placement.

      Students should consult the USCIS I-765 website for the most up-to-date information on forms, filing locations and fees.