F-1 Student Work Authorization Policy

For those students attending Fairleigh Dickinson University (the University) in F-1 status, please remember that any off campus employment must be authorized! Without proper work authorization, off-campus employment would be considered a violation of your F-1 status. Such violation can, and will likely, include loss of legal immigration status in the U.S., and possible deportation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Accordingly, the University issues this policy as guidance for F-1 status students.


The relevant US immigration regulation can be found at 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(9). It states:

(e) Employment. A nonimmigrant in the United States in a class defined in section 101(a)(15)(B) of the Act as a temporary visitor for pleasure, or section 101(a)(15)(C) of the Act as an alien in transit through this country, may not engage in any employment. Any other nonimmigrant in the United States may not engage in any employment unless he has been accorded a nonimmigrant classification which authorizes employment or he has been granted permission to engage in employment in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. A nonimmigrant who is permitted to engage in employment may engage only in such employment as has been authorized. Any unauthorized employment by a nonimmigrant constitutes a failure to maintain status within the meaning of section 241(a)(1)(C) (i) of the Act.

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued policy guidance:  “If the DSO is aware of an F-1 student employed without authorization, the DSO must report it in SEVIS within 21 days  by terminating the student record.”

According to the above immigration regulation and policy a nonimmigrant, including F-1 students, may only engage in authorized employment. Failure to receive authorization is considered a failure to maintain status and must be reported in SEVIS.


The definition of an employee used in the context of immigration regulations is as follows: “An individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration”. The term “remuneration” is broader than being paid wages; it includes a variety of non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, etc.

F-1 students may work no more than 20 hours per week on campus when classes are in session and up to full time during official University breaks (see here). F-1 students cannot work off-campus (including credit-bearing internships off-campus) without PRIOR authorization from Office of International Student Services (ISS) and U.S. Immigration

Should an FDU F-1 international student be found employed without authorization, his or her immigration record will be terminated for “unauthorized employment”. Once an F-1 record is terminated for “unauthorized employment” it is extremely difficult to regain status or obtain a new visa. In addition, any future immigration benefits would most likely be denied.

Unpaid internships or work experiences

Unpaid internships or work experiences do not usually qualify as volunteer activity. Internships and work experiences, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s major field of study. For more information on the subject of unpaid internships, please see the University’s guidance for Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.

No student should start a training/internship/unremunerated work experience until the proper approval for the CPT or OPT has been obtained.


Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. F-1 students are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the criteria established by the U.S. Department of Labor. For example, it would be okay to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, charitable food pantry, or American Red Cross.

If you have any questions please schedule an appointment with an Advisor in International Student Services.