Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of immigration status and can result in termination of your record. It is important to understand what constitutes employment and what sort of employment your particular immigration status allows.
Employment is any activity for which you receive compensation. Compensation does not only refer to receiving money. For example, babysitting or housekeeping in exchange for room and board would be considered compensation for services and therefore unauthorized off-campus employment.
Self-employment (for example, offering personal services, making and selling products, or otherwise engaging in income-producing activity in the US) is generally prohibited.
Income from investments, interest on bank accounts, and similar funds do not constitute employment because there is no direct service/compensation relationship. Similarly, income from foreign employers does not necessarily constitute employment in the US if that money is paid abroad.
F-1 Employment Options
Before accepting any kind of employment, be sure it is allowed by the F-1 regulations. Note that the off-campus employment opportunities generally require you to have completed one academic year (three quarters) to be eligible to apply for authorization. Consult your ISSS advisor with any questions related to F-1 status and employment.
F-1 status allows the following five categories of employment:
- On-campus Employment
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Severe Economic Hardship
- International Organizations
J-1 and J-2 Employment Options
The following employment options are available provided you are in good academic standing and are enrolled in a full course of study except for official school breaks and the annual vacation quarter. You must receive employment authorization in advance by notifying your ISSS advisor of your job offer. If your program sponsor is not WWU, but an outside agency (like ISEP), you will need to obtain employment authorization from that agency.
Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from USCIS. Income from the J-2's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1. Employment may be authorized up to twelve months, and may be renewed annually.
The application for employment authorization may take up to 90 days to be processed. If approved, the J-2 will be issued an employment authorization document (EAD). The card will have an expiration date, and may be renewed annually. During the period of authorized employment the J-2 may accept any kind of employment, full-time or part-time. The J-2's employment authorization is valid only while the J-1 is maintaining status.
To apply for an EAD, contact your ISSS advisor for more details.