There are specific rules governing employment for F-1 and J-1 statuses. Working without proper authorization is a serious violation of status and can impact future visa applications. Therefore, it is very important that you understand what employment is allowed for your status before beginning a new job or internship.
The definition of "employment" is not just limited to working for a paycheck. Employment can be considered any kind of remuneration for services. In addition to immigration law, when dealing with employment issues, you must also consider complex U.S. labor laws.
Please refer to the pages in this section for more information about employment options, as well as information regarding Social Security and taxes.
F/J Students Employment
J Scholars/Interns Employment
Employment at Illinois State
J-1 scholars are not allowed to work at ISU without prior authorization. Some scholars work at ISU as part of their program. Never work at ISU before first having it approved by your department and International Advisor.
Some J-1 visiting scholars are also employed at the University. All employees of the University must fill out paperwork with Human Resources and apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Human Resources will need a copy of your DS-2019 to prove your employment eligibility. The employment must have already be pre-approved as part of your J-1 program.
All visiting scholars who are ISU employees must be in contact with ISSS, Human Resources, and the Payroll Office upon arrival to campus.
Scholars who do not receive prior written permission before participating in employment are engaging in illegal and unauthorized employment. This is a serious violation of your visa status and may result in termination of your SEVIS record.
J-1 scholars are not allowed to work off campus without prior authorization. In addition, off-campus work authorization cannot be approved unless the scholar is maintaining status and making progress in their program at ISU. Never work off campus before first speaking with your department and an International Advisor.
While you are a J-1 scholar, you may be invited to give guest lectures or consultations about your research or teaching program at Illinois State. In the immigration world, incidental employment is the only option for J-1 scholars who wish to engage in such activities for which they might receive something in return or a benefit.
What Constitutes Payment and Employment?
If a J-1 scholar provides a service (such as giving a presentation or a consultation) and receives anything in return (like cash in hand, an honorarium, free lodging, free car rental, free meals, free airfare, repayment of expenses, etc.), this can be seen as payment for services rendered.
Scholars who receive funding or payment can be seen as independent contractors and must be aware of tax reporting and laws. Completing an I-9 or other forms may be necessary. For more information, please contact ISU’s International Tax Specialist at taxoffice@IllinoisState.edu or (309) 438-7677.
What Does Incidental Mean?
Employment that is incidental embodies the concept of occasional, single, infrequent events. Scholars may take part in lectures and consultations as long as they do not happen in an ongoing manner or interfere with their Illinois State program, and are pre-approved by their department and ISSS.
To meet the criteria set by federal law, occasional lectures or short-term consultations must:
- Be directly related to the objectives of the exchange visitor’s original program;
- Be incidental to the scholar’s primary program activities;
- Not interrupt or delay the completion date of the visitor’s program;
- Be approved by the scholar's host department;
- Be Approved by ISSS before engaging in the activity; and
- Be documented in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).
How to Apply
To apply, you must first provide your ISU faculty host with a letter from the inviting organization. Once the letter is on file, your faculty host should login to the ISSS Scholar Portal to initiate and submit an Incidental Employment request. They can find the request on the Requests tab within your scholar profile.
Scholars who do not receive prior written permission before participating in incidental employment can be seen as engaging in illegal and unauthorized employment. This is a serious violation of a scholar's visa status and is a deportable offense. Since employment opportunities are very limited for J-1 scholars, it is important for departments and scholars to know the rules around employment.