Can I work in the United States while attending University?

Question: I am coming to the United States to attend University. Because I will need to work to support myself, I have some questions regarding employment while on an F-1 visa. Can you please provide some guidance on the following questions?

  1. Will I be able to work as a student?
  2. Can I obtain a Social Security card?

Answer: Thank you for your question. As a student on an F-1 visa, you are permitted to work subject to certain restrictions. In general, during your first academic year you may not work, except for on-campus work, which can begin once you are admitted. On campus employment includes work performed on school premises, such as a student bookstore. However, after your first academic year, you may obtain off-campus employment if you meet certain economic hardship requirements. You must also be in good academic standing and maintain a full course load.   

On-campus employment must either be performed on the school’s premises or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. Employment must not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session, unless those restrictions are removed due to emergent circumstances.

As a student, you are able to obtain a Social Security Card. You may obtain a card by submitting the following: evidence of age and identity, authorization to work, letter from school reflecting a full course load, I-20, and I-94.  

I hope you find this information helpful. If you have additional questions about on-campus employment, or questions pertaining to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), please contact the office at (716) 565-6270 or by email at

Nevin F. Murchie