J-1 employment overview
If you are interested in working while in the United States, the following J-1 Employment Options Chart can serve as a quick reference for you as to eligibility requirements and documents needed for applying. For a more comprehensive description of each type of employment, kindly refer to the links below.

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Employment (Excluding Academic Training)

Your J-1 Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO)

Whatever type of employment you are considering, you must first obtain approval in writing from the Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO) who represents your J 1 program sponsor and issues your Forms DS-2019. Before approval, your RO/ARO is required by regulation to evaluate the proposed employment in the context of your program and your personal circumstances, and then decide whether it would be appropriate or not. If the University of Miami is your J-1 program sponsor, then you need to apply for employment authorization at ISSS. If your J 1 program sponsor is an agency, and if you are uncertain how to reach your RO/ARO, your ISSS advisor will help you find out, but has no authority to grant your employment authorization.

Categories of J-1 Student Employment

Employment required by a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. This kind of work usually occurs on campus, with the school as the employer. In certain circumstances, however, the work can be done elsewhere, for a different employer. You might work in a government or private research laboratory, for example, if your major professor had a joint appointment there, and were to supervise you in work that counted toward your degree.

On-campus jobs unrelated to study. The regulations, in allowing for jobs on campus that are unrelated to study, stipulate only that the work be done "on the premises" of the school. That means that the school does not have to be the employer, and that you could work for a commercial company, such as a food service, in its operations on your campus.

Off-campus jobs to meet urgent, unforeseen need. Your RO/ARO can authorize you to work off campus in this student employment category only if you have serious and urgent financial need that you did not foresee when you became a J 1 student, or when you enrolled at your current school. Under certain circumstances off campus work may also be available as "Academic Training," a separate category of degree related employment. Special Asian Student Relief. This fourth category of employment is a modification of the on-campus and economic necessity categories of J-1 employment. If you have been present in the U.S. since at least June 24, 1998, your financial support comes from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines, and your financial support has been disrupted, reduced, or eliminated due to economic crises in that country, then your RO/ARO may provide you with authorization for full-time or part-time employment on- or off-campus. If a reduction in course load is necessary due to employment, you will still be considered to be a full-time student if you enroll in at least 6 credit hours per semester (for undergraduate students) or you enroll in at least 3 credit hours per semester (for graduate students). For further information on Special Asian Student Relief, please contact your RO/ARO .

Conditions

Eligibility. You are eligible for J-1 Student Employment provided you (1) are in good academic standing at the school listed on your Form DS-2019; (2) are in valid J-1 status and continue to engage in a full course of study, except for official school breaks and your annual vacation; and (3) your RO/ARO has approved the specific employment in advance and in writing. Such approval may be valid for up to 12 months but is automatically withdrawn if your J-1 program is transferred or terminated.

Limitations. If authorized, you may work a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. You may work full-time during official school breaks and vacation periods, including summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term. The 20-hour-per-week work limit while school is in session applies to and includes all types of "Student Employment." A 20-hour-per-week graduate assistantship, for example, would exhaust your on-campus and off-campus work eligibility during the academic year.

How to apply for Work Permission

First you should talk to your ISSS advisor about why you want or need to work, whether it is advisable, and what type of job would suit you best. If you have serious, urgent and unforeseen financial need, your J-1 RO/ARO will request a letter from you explaining the circumstances. If your J-1 RO/ARO agrees that it would be appropriate for you to work, the next step is to obtain an employment offer letter. The offer letter must contain all of the following information:
  1. Employer's name
  2. Employer's address (including city, state, and zip code)
  3. Number of work hours per week
  4. Employment start date
  5. Employment end date
  6. Employment type (on-campus or off-campus)
  7. If the employment is on-campus, the type of on-campus employment, i.e., assistantship, fellowship, occurs on premises, or scholarship.
When the employment offer letter is ready, provide the following application documents to ISSS:
  1. Original Form DS-2019;
  2. Original Form I-94;
  3. Copy of passport pages (biographic data, photo, J-1 visa, and passport page with last entry stamp);
  4. Employment offer letter;
  5. Letter from you explaining the circumstances of your serious, urgent and unforeseen financial need (only required of students who apply for work authorization in this employment category).
Upon receipt of your application documents, your RO/ARO will authorize your employment in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and will give you an employment authorization letter, and you will be free to begin your employment (see "Authorization to Work" below).

Authorization to work

A Social Security Number. To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security Number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security Card. Please follow this procedure in order to be able to apply for a Social Security card:
  1. Bring an offer letter from your prospective employer and your Form I-94 to ISSS; and
  2. Complete an application for RO/ARO employment authorization letter (available at ISSS).
  3. Take the RO/ARO employment authorization letter, passport, and Forms I-94 and DS-2019 to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office along with a foreign or U.S. driver?s license or your birth certificate to apply for a Social Security card. (Visit www.ssa.gov for information and directions to the Social Security office nearest you.)
Form I-9, "Employment Eligibility Verification." When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport (or other photo-bearing identification if you are Canadian), Form I-94 Departure Record card, Form DS-2019, and your RO/ARO's written employment authorization. Your employer, who keeps Form I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. Since your RO/ARO's authorization can be valid for no more than a year, you will have to obtain a new one at least annually, and then update your Form I-9.

Social Security and other Taxes

Social Security Taxes. In general, as a J-1 student you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes for your first five years in the United States, as long as you continue to declare non-resident status for tax purposes (see Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens".)

Federal, State and Local Taxes. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J 1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 you must file a federal income tax return and a "Required Statement" covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or are entitled to a refund.

A Note of Caution
As a J 1 student you are eligible for a variety of work opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember to consult International Student and Scholar Services prior to starting any kind of employment.

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