Employment

Employment is any type of work completed or services rendered in exchange for monetary payment, tuition, books, supplies, housing, food, gift cards, or any other benefit. Examples of employment include, but are not limited to, presenting a paper at another university and receiving an honorarium, representing a company in exchange for gift cards, and working for a company and receiving a biweekly paycheck.

You must obtain work authorization prior to starting any off-campus employment. Working off-campus without prior authorization is a serious violation of status and may have severe consequences for your future U.S. immigration benefit applications. If you are unsure if something you wish to do requires work authorization, please check with your international student advisor BEFORE engaging in the opportunity.

On Campus Employment

1. F-1 students

F-1 students are permitted to work part-time on premises of the school that issued their currently valid I-20, while they are attending that school and maintaining their F-1 status. On-campus employment is "incident to status", and does not require special authorization. On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but can be full-time during official school breaks. 

IMPORTANT: full-time AI (Assistant in Instruction) or AR (Assistant in Research) appointments are considered to be equivalent to 20 hours per week; therefore, students holding them are not eligible for any additional on-campus employment. 

2. J-1 students

J-1 students are permitted to work part time on the premises of the school that issued their currently valid DS-2019, while they are attending school and maintaining their J-1 status.On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but can be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during official school breaks.

IMPORTANT: Full-time AI (Assistant in Instruction) or AR (Assistant in Research) appointments are considered to be equivalent to 20 hours per week; therefore, students holding them are not eligible for any additional on-campus employment. 

J-1 students MUST HAVE PRIOR APPROVAL from their international student advisor at Davis IC in order to work on campus. If your DS-2019 is issued by Princeton University, you must contact the Davis International Center to request on-campus employment permission.

To report any on-campus employment, submit the J-1 On-Campus Employment Report Form. Please allow up to 5 business days for your request to be processed. 


NOTE: If your DS-2019 is issued by another organization (e.g., IIE), please contact that organization for information about employment authorization.

3. Types of On-Campus Employment

F-1/J-1 students at Princeton are permitted the following types of on-campus employment:

  • Employment by Princeton
    Work performed on campus in an academic department, the library, the computer center, housing office or other university office is acceptable. Work required by a scholarship, a fellowship, or an assistantship is also acceptable. Graduate students should note, however, that employment (other than an assistantship) is considered incompatible with full-time graduate studies. If graduate students and their departments judge that part-time employment is both manageable and necessary, the student may be employed on campus. 
  • Other Employment on Princeton Premises
    Work performed on campus (on Princeton's premises) for an outside contractor or firm may be considered on-campus employment ONLY if the employer provides direct services (bookstore, dining services, etc.) to students. The regulations state that employment with on-site commercial firms, such as a construction company building a school building, which do not provide direct student services is not deemed on-campus employment.
  • On-campus Employment at an Off-Campus Location 
    PhD Students who are joining their academic advisor who is moving to another institution may need to be authorized for this type of employment. 
4. Non-Degree Students
  • Visiting Student Research Collaborators (VSRCs)
    As per the Graduate School Policy, a VSRC may at the faculty member's discretion be appointed as an Assistant in Research (AR). A VSRC may not be appointed as an Assistant in Instruction (AI) nor be approved to hold any other kind of employment on or off-campus.
  • Other Graduate Non-Degree Students
    As per the Graduate School Policy, Non-degree Graduate Students may not be appointed as Assistant in Instruction (AI) nor be approved to hold any other kind of employment on or off-campus.
  • Non-degree Undergraduate Exchange Students are eligible for on-campus employment as per the regulatory guidance for their respective visa types in items 1-2 above.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Non-degree students are also subject to the 20 hours per week maximum. They are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. 
5. Validity of On-Campus Employment Authorization

Your on-campus employment authorization expires:

  • When you graduate, even if your I-20/DS-2019 expiration date is in the future.
  • When your I-20/DS-2019 expires, even if you have not held your FPO yet (if you are a PhD student. If you are an undergraduate or Master's student, your I-20/DS-2019 should be valid until Commencement.) 
  • When you transfer your SEVIS record to another school; your on campus work authorization expires on the day of your SEVIS record release.
  • If you take Leave of Absence; your on campus work authorization expires on the LOA effective date.
  • If you violate F-1/J-1 immigration status. 

Off Campus Employment

Online/Remote Work

All work that is done physically from within the U.S., even if the work is online or for a company located outside of the U.S., requires work authorization. Additionally, work that is done remotely from the Princeton campus for an outside organization or company may not count as on-campus employment and likely requires work authorization.

Unpaid Internships

As long as the internship meets the unpaid internship criteria set by the U.S. Department of Labor, an employment relationship does not exist and therefore you are not required to apply for OPT. Please consult the Department of Labor Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act for detailed information about guidelines for individuals seeking an unpaid internship.

Please note:

  1. Make sure that your prospective supervisor is aware of these federal regulations and that you have assurances (preferably written) to that effect before you accept the internship.
  2. We also recommend that you obtain a letter confirming that there was not any type of compensation provided in any form during the dates you were participating in the unpaid internship.
  3. Just like with a paid internship, you should obtain approval from your academic advisor to participate in the internship because the unpaid internship must also be directly related to your major field of study.
Volunteering

Volunteering for humanitarian causes such as helping in a soup kitchen or animal shelter does not require employment authorization. However, "employment with no pay" is not acceptable. You should not engage in work without pay that would otherwise be paid only because you do not have work authorization. This can be considered both a violation of your immigration status and labor laws. For details on what constitutes an unpaid internship (as opposed to employment), please see above.

Entrepreneurship

More details coming soon! In the meantime, please reach out to your international student advisor if you have any questions about starting your own company.

Off-Campus Work Authorization for F-1 Students

There are two types of off-campus work authorization that are available for F-1 students, Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). At Princeton, only graduate students in certain departments are eligible for CPT. Please see the CPT page for eligibility information.

Off-Campus Work Authorization for J-1 Students

J-1 students must apply for Academic Training (AT) in order to obtain off-campus work authorization.