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Employment Process for International Students

International students, unlike U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, complete employment paperwork with OIT, rather than the Student Employment office. Non-U.S. students should follow the hiring process laid out below to complete paperwork and to obtain a Work Release Form.

Employment Process
Step 1: Obtain an on-campus job

The Student Employment Office maintains an online listing of open jobs on-campus. Follow the application instructions to apply for and be hired for a job.

Step 2: Supervisor emails OIT

Ask your supervisor to email Devon Slough to let her know that you have been hired for an on-campus job. Your supervisor’s email should include your employment hire date, start date and your job title.

Step 3: FNIS

Once you have been hired for an on-campus job, email Devon Slough in OIT to request a secure passworded link to FNIS (Foreign National Information System). FNIS is the website where you will enter in your personal information (name, addresses, passport, visa, etc.) The FNIS information must be entered before you can meet with Devon Slough.

Step 4: Office of International Taxation (OIT)

If steps 1–3 have been completed, email Devon Slough to schedule a meeting to fill out required U.S. employment and taxation paperwork. Devon’s office hours are Monday–Friday, 8:45 a.m.–2:45 p.m. In your email, give Devon a list of available times over several days so that she can fit you into her calendar. NOTE: Walk-ins will be asked make an appointment.

Step 5: OIT meeting

Attend your scheduled meeting with Devon Slough. During this meeting you will be given several employment and taxation documents to sign and will discuss the social security card process, if you do not already have an SSN. At the end of the meeting you will be given a Release to Work form stating that you are approved to work on-campus until you graduate or until the end of your exchange program.

Bring the following documents to your meeting:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94 number (this can be printed from U.S. Customs & Border Protection after you enter the U.S.)
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Social Security Card (SSN), if you already have one
Step 6: SSN

Before applying for your social security number, you are required (per Social Security Administration requirements) to get the signatures of both your supervisor and Designated School Official (from OIE) on the proof of employment letter given to you during your meeting with Devon Slough.  For the OIE signature, you should go during the walk in hours (2-4 pm Monday-Thursday). If you are unable to go during walk-n hours, then you should drop off the letter when OIE is open (8:30 am – 5:00 pm, M-F).  You will receive an email when the letter is ready, but it may not be on the same day depending on when it is dropped off. The Office of International Education is located in the Carole Weinstein International Building.

Frequently Asked Questions
20/40 Work Hour Limits

International students are restricted by US law to working only 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during school breaks and in the summer. This law is strictly enforced at the University of Richmond. Students who exceed the allowable work hours will be terminated from the student employment system. Please check Student Employment’s list of holiday/break maximum work hours.

Second On-Campus Job

If an international student obtains a different or an additional on-campus job, the student does not need to revisit OIT. Once an international student has been approved to work on-campus, the student may work until the date of graduation or the end of their exchange program.

Working Without Authorization

Non-U.S. students are not permitted to begin their on-campus employment without completing the full hiring process and obtaining a Release to Work form. Students who begin their employment without authorization risk being reported to U.S. Customs and Immigration as working illegally and face the consequence of deportation without the ability to apply for future U.S. visas. Working without authorization is a work violation that is taken very seriously at UR and can result in termination from the UR employment system.

Off-Campus Employment

Non-U.S. students interested in working off-campus must contact Krittika Onsanit in the Office of International Education. SEVIS permission must be granted for both CPT (curricular practical training) and OPT (optional practical training.) CPT is granted while a student is still enrolled at UR (for example, a summer internship) and OPT is granted after graduation. Both CPT and OPT must be applied for several months in advance. The total number of allowable months for CPT and OPT is 12 months for each. You can have up to 12 months of full-time CPT without taking away from your 12 months of OPT.


There is a common misconception that volunteer work is not employment, but that is only true if the volunteer activity is charitable in a traditional way. 

Under immigration law, unpaid employment is still employment if it meets any of the three tests:

  • the individual is compensated in any way for services form a U.S. source (typically the entity at or for which the services are performed)
  • but for the services, the U.S. entity would have to hire a U.S. worker to perform the services
  • the primary benefit of the services inures to the U.S. entity at or for which the services are performed.

Foreign nationals may only volunteer for jobs that are traditionally filled by non-paid volunteer workers. Volunteering for any other position is viewed as taking a position that would otherwise be filled by a U.S. citizen or work-authorized alien.

If the activity is really unpaid employment, it is prohibited during unauthorized periods including the 60-day post OPT period.

Training Experience

If services are provided and they would be considered to primarily benefit the alien if no productive value is provide to the US entity (except incidentally) and the services constitute a bona fide training experience to the alien. If any work product is provided to the hosting entity, however, the activities are considered employment and would require employment authorization.

Gap in Visa

If there is an unavoidable gap between the end of one visa status and the start of another visa status, the non-U.S. individual must stop working. The non-US individual cannot volunteer time until the new visa is approved or begins. In fact, he or she shouldn’t go anywhere near the department in any type of employment or research capacity until the change of status is approval is received. Any activity that falls under the job description that the non-U.S. person will ultimately be paid for, once the change of visa status is approved, should be avoided.

Working While Abroad

Non-U.S. students classified as non-resident aliens (NRA) by the IRS who work for UR while they are living abroad — for example, during summer break back home or during a semester study abroad program — are not subject to US payroll taxes. The income is considered foreign-sourced by the IRS. Students who will work abroad for UR should ask their supervisor to email Devon Slough in OIT with the dates the student is working abroad.

Last Paycheck Before Leaving U.S.

In order to avoid cashing a U.S. paycheck abroad, students who are leaving the U.S. and who will not be returning can request that their last paycheck be issued early (before they leave the U.S.). This must be done with the supervisor’s approval. A paper time card must be submitted. Contact the Payroll Office to request a paper time card.

Social Security Card Information (SSN)

International students may be employed and be paid for their work without an SSN. In fact, a non-U.S. individual will not be issued an SSN without proof of current employment.

  • If you do not have an SSN, you will begin the SSN application process when you meet with Devon Slough in OIT.
  • You must apply in person for an SSN at the Richmond Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You will need to bring the application (generated by OIT) and your documents to the SSA. OIT will provide you with the directions to the SSA and give you a list of required documents for the application process.
  • Your SSN will be mailed to your local U.S. address about 1–2 weeks after you submit your application at the SSA.
  • Once you receive your SSN, you must return to OIT so that a copy can be made for your employment file.
  • IMPORTANT: While an SSN is not required for employment purposes, it is required for tax purposes. The IRS will not accept a tax treaty form without an SSN. And, the IRS has begun to deny tax refunds when federal tax returns are submitted without an SSN.
Electronic I-94 Card Tips

You will only be able to print your electronic I-94 card AFTER you have entered the US.

  • Print the electronic I-94 card BEFORE you meet with Devon Slough.
  • CBP Website: Click on “Get I-94 Number”
  • If you are having problems obtaining your electronic I-94 card from the CBP website, verify that you are entering in your name as it is listed on your passport and not on your U.S. visa.
  • If you have not recently exited the U.S. and you are still in possession of an old paper I-94 card, then bring this paper I-94 card to the meeting with Devon Slough.
  • Non-U.S. individuals entering the U.S. should confirm that the U.S. Customs and Immigration passport entry stamp includes all required information. The passport entry stamp should be annotated with (1) date of admission; (2) class of admission (visa type); and, (3) admitted until date (for F-1 and J-1 visas this will say “D/S” instead of an actual date).

Contact Us

Payroll & International Taxation
Maryland Hall, Room G-24