UTPA Department Information
Employment of International Students
This information is provided as a guide for departments who wish to hire an international student. The process for hiring an international is exactly the same for hiring any other student. The difference is immigration regulations that govern the actual employment that occurs. One difference in the routing process is that the MOE requires an additional signature from the OIAS that the student is eligible and authorized to work.
Please be aware that even if you should never read this information that all International students have been presented this information every semester and it has been discussed at length in our orientations. It is their responsibility to know the regulations and maintain their status. If you ever have any questions please contact our office: (956) 665-2922
What is an international student?
- Any student who is not a U.S. Citizen
- Any student who is not a U.S. Permanent Resident
Different categories of international students
- F-1 students (full-time degree seeking students)
- J-1 students (Exchange Students normally here for one or two semesters)
- Students who are dependents of parents in the U.S. who hold valid visas for living or working in the U.S. (H-4; J-2; L-2; R-2; K-2; etc)
- Senate Bill 1528 (formerly House Bill 1403) students
- Students who have filed for permanent residency but it has not been granted
Which international students can work?
- F-1 students
- J-1 students
- J-2 with Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from immigration
What are the limitations?
- In-status (have not violated any immigration regulations)
- Maximum number of hours per week; actual hours per week, not an average
- 20 hours a week during the Spring and Fall semesters
- 40 hours per week during summer break
- 40 hours per week during winter break
- Employment must occur on campus
- Can only be “Direct Wage” positions; cannot be “WorkStudy”
What is the departmental process to hire an international student?
- Request MOE through Career Services or through the Personnel Action Form (PAF)
- Complete a regular MOE for direct wage
- Career Services will route the MOE to OIAS if applicable. PAF will be routed to OIAS if necessary.
- If the student does not have a Social Security Number write a letter of employment using a certain format (see additional handout on required format)
- Route the MOE to the Office of International Admissions and Services for signature (Foreign Employee Advisory);
- You should not permit student to begin employment before MOE has been processed
- Try and monitor closely that a student does not work over 20 hours or record over 20 hours on the time card for any given week; if they exceed the minimum their immigration status will be terminated
Answers to Common Questions
- International students know the regulations that govern their work; it is their responsibility to give you correct information and not depend on you for information.
- An international student can only work on “Salary” or “Directwage”; cannot be on “work study”.
- An international student is not eligible for a Social Security Number until they have a documented offer of employment.
- An international student does not need a Social Security Number in order to start employment according to Immigration Regulations, but international student must follow Human Resources regulations.
- A department can create and route an MOE for an international student without a Social Security Number.
- An international student must have a Social Security Number in order to receive payment.
- An international student cannot work off campus (special exceptions: required internships for which credit is received, Post-completion Optional Practical Training).
- House Bill 1403/Senate Bill 1528 students and other undocumented students cannot work and are not eligible for a Social Security Number that permits employment; if they have been in the U.S. for many years they may have a SSN that was issued by the SSA as identification. The SSA no longer issues cards for identification purposes—only for employment purposes.
- Work during fall and spring semesters is limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week, NOT an average of 20 hours per week; for example a student cannot work 15 hours one week and then 25 hours the next to make it up. On any given week that a student works more than 20 hours they have violated their immigrations status and we are required to terminate their immigration status and they are required to leave the U.S.
- A student that works over 20 hours per week cannot refuse payment for the extra hours in order to avoid violating his status; immigration is not concerned with the pay—they are concerned with the work itself.
- If an off-campus internship is required, it can be authorized with proper documentation from the department
- An international student/staff/faculty cannot volunteer their services in a normally paid position.