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On-campus 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

Once you are settled on campus and comfortable with your studies, having a job may be a good idea. You can earn extra money, meet new people, make new friends, improve your communication skills and learn how to manage your time more effectively. Campus jobs look good on a resume, too, and may provide strong references for future employment or graduate school.

Learn about employment opportunities on campus by visiting the International Programs Office. To work on campus during the academic year, you must be enrolled full-time (12 hours for undergraduates and 3 hours for graduate students) and be in good academic standing.

When you get a job, complete the top section of the Temporary Employment form, Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) and federal and state tax withholding statements (W-4s). You will also be required to present a Social Security card.

Students can work 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours per week during school holidays on-campus.

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.   

Read more: working off-campus

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.

Taxes

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) and 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.