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Employment for international students

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires that international students with F-1 visas live in the United States primarily to attend school, not work and make money. Accordingly, employment is restricted to:

  • On-campus employment, 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours per week during school holidays
  • Off-campus employment after having maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year. This employment may take the form of Optional Practical Training, Curricular Practical Training or an exception for unforeseen economic hardship

Obtaining a Social Security Card

As an international student you are probably exempt from paying U.S. Social Security taxes —but if you plan to work, you must obtain a Social Security card. To apply for one, visit the International Programs Office. The Coordinator will help you obtain a letter verifying your eligibility to work on campus and to travel to the Social Security Office in Columbia.


All F-1 students must file state and federal taxes each year they spend in the United States. The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31, and the deadline to file is April 15, if U.S. money is earned (including scholarships and assistantships); June 15 if no U.S. money is earned. Taxes are deducted from your paycheck each pay period and you may end up owing nothing, but you still have to file. Income tax forms and instructions can be obtained from the International Programs Office. The Coordinator of International Programs will notify you when it is time to file your income tax returns and help you obtain the necessary forms. They are also available at all post offices, public libraries and many other public places.

You may be exempt from paying federal and Missouri taxes based on your citizenship. Contact the Columbia College payroll office for exemption forms.