Building credit history is an important start to your financial life in the US but how are you going to actually make the money for your payments? Working even while you’re a student can be an important source of income and help pay towards the cost of your education and provide you applicable work experience. Many international students wonder, can I work in the USA while studying?
The short answer is yes, international students can work in the USA while studying but there are some restrictions.
These rules serve to protect American jobs and also ensure that your main focus is on studying and not working, which would come under a different kind of visa.
The first category of work is on-campus employment. This is the easiest type of work to apply for as it does not require US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval.
Will working while studying affect my grades?
While there’s certainly time and energy lost, you can still learn through your work, which may be well worth it. Often, the things you learn through a job can serve as an extension of the concepts you learned in class. For on-campus work, working as a research assistant (RA) can have you involved with groundbreaking work while a professor pays for your salary out of their research grant. Meanwhile, as a teaching assistant (TA) for a class you’ve already taken, you can brush up on your understanding of fundamental concepts.
Learning while working is even more true in the second category of work available to you: training programs designed specifically for international students seeking employment. Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are programmes that provide work directly related to your major. OPT can be completed before or after graduation, while CPT must be completed before graduation. Stay tuned for future articles on OPT vs CPT!
Student jobs can help you pay for college.
Even with all these advantages, how much money can you expect to make?
Currently, the federal minimum wage is US$7.25 per hour, with each state setting their own wage laws. While the minimum wage may vary, you can expect to earn at least that much, with many on-campus jobs often paying higher than the minimum wage.
In addition, if you face "severe economic hardship" as defined by USCIS, you would also be eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time during breaks.
A final category of employment is employment with a recognized international organization on the official State Department list, such as the Red Cross and the World Trade Organization. Often overlooked, you can look for jobs and sponsorships from such eligible organizations for a unique working experience.
To get started, check with your designated school official (DSO) and your school’s international students office to see what jobs are available!
Consult with them on your visa limitations since breaking the rules could put your student status at risk and even lead to deportation. That said, as long as you have a valid US student visa and are in good academic standing, the process should go smoothly. We at Chryscard will do our best to support you at each stage of the journey as you transition into the US!.