Hiring International Students

On Campus Employment

International students may be employed on-campus from the start of their academic program. Hiring international students can have a great benefit to university offices and provides these students with opportunity to get experience in the U.S. work environment. The following information will provide the conditions under which an international student may be hired for on-campus employment.

On-campus employment refers to employment that occurs on the university premises. The international student is hired by a Colorado State University unit or department and is paid by CSU. Examples of such employment would be Graduate Teaching/Research Assistants or student hourly positions. On-campus employment may also include employment by a private company which is physically located on the CSU’s campus and provides direct services to students (e.g., food court restaurants in the LSC).

When can an F-1 or J-1 student start working?

  • A new F-1 or J-1 student can start working as early as 30 days prior to the start date on their F-1/J-1 immigration document, the form I-20/DS-2019.
  • Students who are transferring their F-1 or J-1 records to Colorado State University can start working once their F-1 or J-1 transfer has been accepted by CSU.
  • All F-1 and J-1 visa holders who accept employment must apply for a Social Security Number(SSN). As the processing of SSN may take some time, the F-1/J-1 may begin employment prior to receiving the number. A Payroll Control Number from the Foreign Tax Office  may be used as a temporary placeholder until the SSN is received.  
  • F-1 and J-1 international students maintaining status at CSU can work on campus a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during the breaks (e.g., summer) if they are returning to classes the following term.

Are there any limitations on employment?

  • J-1 students must obtain a letter of written approval from their Sponsor, in most cases International Student and Scholar Services, prior to beginning any on-campus employment.
  • F-1/J-1 students may have multiple jobs but must be very careful not to accrue more than 20 hours a week between all their jobs combined while school is in session.
  • An F-1 or J-1 student who works more than 20 hours a week on campus when school is in session is in violation of  their F-1 or J-1 status.
  • Please keep in mind that the work week starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.
  • F-1/J-1 students are not eligible for work-study positions as these are government-funded financial aid.
  • F-1/J-1 students are not eligible for off-campus employment without proper authorization from ISSS, their Sponsor, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S).
  • An F-1/J-1 international student who completes or discontinues their course of study is no longer eligible for employment. Please note students who have completed/graduated from their programs are not allowed to continue employment into winter or summer break.

What is the process for hiring international students?

Provide Offer Letter of Employment:

An international student is required to have an offer letter of employment in order to apply for a Social Security Number.

International Student and Scholar Services has an F-1/J-1 Offer Letter Template that on-campus employers may use when hiring an F-1/J-1 international student. This template is based on expectations of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The F-1/J-1 student will need to submit an original offer letter to the SSA in order to get an SSN.

International Student must apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

International student employees must obtain an SSN once they have secured an offer of employment.

In order to obtain an SSN, an F-1/J-1 international student needs a letter from International Student and Scholar Services verifying their eligibility. The student may obtain this letter by submitting the Status Verification Letter Request eForm along with the employer’s job offer letter.

Once the student has received the Verification Letter, they will submit it along with the Offer letter, the Social Security Number Application (SS-5), their I-20 or DS2019 Document and I-94  to the Social Security Administration Office located at 301 S. Howes Street 4th Floor, Fort Collins, CO.

Typically it takes 4-8 weeks to receive the Social Security Card.

An F-1/J-1 student may start employment prior to receiving their SSN. However, once the student receives the SSN, they should notify the departmental payroll person and the Foreign Tax Office at BFS_ForeignTax@mail.colostate.edu

Provide Training and Clear Expectations

It is important to recognize that the U.S working culture may be very different from what an international student may be aware of from their own culture. It is important to provide training and to articulate clear expectations for successful employment and performance.


If you have any questions about hiring an F-1/J-1 international student please do not hesitate to contact ISSS at ISSS@colostate.edu or (970) 491-5917.

Information for Other Types of Employment Options for Students

The blocks below link to informational handouts related to on- and off-campus employment authorization and visa types.