Students and Employment

The purpose of international students coming to the United States on an F-1 and J-1 visa student status is to study as a full-time student in the United States. Federal immigration regulations provide F-1 and J-1 students limited opportunities to engage in employment. For the most part, any employment that is allowed must enhance the learning that is taking place in the classroom, and therefore must be directly related to a student's program of study at HPU.

COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES RENDERED IS NOT A CONSIDERATION WHEN DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT A STUDENT NEEDS TO OBTAIN WORK AUTHORIZATION PRIOR TO BEGINNING EMPLOYMENT. F-1 AND J-1 STUDENTS AT HPU ARE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN WORK AUTHORIZATION FOR ALL OFF-CAMPUS POSITIONS, WHETHER PAID OR UNPAID. 

According to U.S. immigration regulations, 8 Code of Federal Regulations 214.1(e): "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..."

F-1 and J-1 students have separate processes for securing work authorization for their respective visa category. Please contact or schedule an appointment with OISS if you have further questions regarding which employment opportunities you are eligible for.

 

On-Campus EMPLOYMENT     F-1 Visa EMPLOYMENT    J-1 Visa EMPLOYMENT

WHAT IS VOLUNTEER WORK?

Studying is the main purpose why international students are here in the United States, however, when choosing volunteer services during free time away from studying, the following factors are used to determine volunteer work:

  • Your volunteer organization must be a nonprofit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objective.
  • Hours of volunteer work do not equal to hours of a regular full-time employee.
  • Hours of volunteer work are scheduled sporadically as to not reflect an actual job with a set work schedule.
  • Volunteer services should be offered freely and without pressure or coercion.
  • Services rendered should be associated with volunteer work only.
  • Your volunteer services will not replace regular employees of that organization.
  • As a volunteer, do not expect or receive any compensation or benefit from the organization you are providing volunteer services for.

Volunteering can be done freely during Summer and Winter terms as long as it meets the above criteria.  It is possible to volunteer during Spring and Fall terms, however, do not let volunteer services affect your school work. In the event that you fall behind your studies and request for a program or I-20 extension, it will not be approved.

Please note that there is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship.

As explained above, 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 and J-1 students are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the above criteria. For example, it would be okay to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, charitable food pantry, or American Red Cross.

Unpaid internships, on the other hand, do not usually qualify as “volunteer” activity. Internships, 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 Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) for more information.

What is the difference between an employee and a volunteer? A common misconception is that the only difference is employees get paid and volunteers do not.

According to U.S. labor laws, there is more to distinguish between employees and volunteers than whether an individual receives a regular paycheck. Work that is unpaid may still be considered employment for  F-1 or J-1 status holders.

What is an employee? 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”. Please note that the term “remuneration” is very broad and includes a variety of non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, etc.

Please refer to criteria's mentioned above on what defines volunteer services. Anything that does not satisfy the above criteria's is considered regular employment and not volunteering.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT VOLUNTEERING

As an international student, it is important to know the difference between employment and volunteering.  U.S. Department of Labor is concerned both with the protection of jobs for United States citizens and with the prevention of exploitation of workers or international students. They have created laws to ensure that employment that should be paid is not done for free. While both you and the employer may be happy with an unpaid arrangement (for example, you may be eager to work even on an unpaid basis in a company in order to gain job experience), this may be considered an unfair arrangement in cases where the work is normally performed by a paid person and both the company and the employee are benefitting from the employment.