hiring guidelines for international employees

The following information is provided to assist University of Illinois departments in determining employment eligibility for potential international hires.

Unauthorized Employment Risks

Unauthorized employment is a violation of the terms of nonimmigrant status.  International employees who violate this status put themselves at risk now and in the future.  Employment outside the terms of their nonimmigrant status can result in a termination of F-1 or J-1 status, the potential for being barred from being in the United States for a period of time, or future problems in applying for permanent residency.  The University is also placed at risk for federal fines or sanctions.   Individuals with questions about their employment authorization should contact the Office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) at 333-1303.

General Employee Information

Federal Law (The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and University policy do not allow work to be performed without a valid I-9 on file. All employees, regardless of nationality, must complete a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). In the case of international hires the I-9 allows the department to verify that the person has the proper work authorization. Form I-9 is a three-part document. The law requires that the employee complete Section 1 on or before the close of business of the first day of work. The employer must complete Section 2 by no later than the close of business on the employee’s third day of work or by the close of business on the first day of work if the employment is for less than three days. The employer must certify that the employee’s original documents of identity and employment eligibility appear to be genuine and belong to the employee. Section 3 is completed by the employer when it is necessary to update or reverify an employee’s work authorization. The University uses the Tracker Electronic I-9 system for completion of I-9s. 

Further details about I-9s are posted at:

Guidelines for F-1 and J-1 International Students (undergraduate and graduate)


In order to work, students (undergraduate and graduate) must have an I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1).  Students in J-1 status  also need written permission for each job from ISSS or their program sponsor. Enrolled students (undergraduates and graduates) in F-1 or J-1 status may work for the University of Illinois for a maximum 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during school vacation periods. However F-1 students can only work 20 hours per week in summer if summer is their first or last semester of enrollment at the University. Vacation periods include the break between fall and spring semesters and the entire summer as well as Thanksgiving and Spring break weeks but not other individual holidays. Consult the official University of Illinois Calendar for exact dates.  (Note:  University rules concerning eligibility for tuition waivers also apply.  Graduate assistants are ineligible for tuition waiver if % appointment is less than 25% or exceeds 67% for a semester period including summer.) 

Further details on F-1 work are posted at: here

Further details on  J-1 work are posted at: here

Questions to Ask the Student:

1. What is your current immigration status, and does it allow you to work at the University of Illinois?

Refer to the Foreign Nationals Payment Eligibility Grid on the OBFS Payroll website in order to determine what types of compensation, if any, the student can receive.  You will be asked to login with your enterprise ID and password.


2. Are you currently enrolled as a full-time student in your academic program?

Students in F-1 and J-1 status must enroll for a full course of study and be making normal progress in their academic program in order to work.  In certain cases students may enroll for less than 12 hours and still be considered full-time for immigration purposes.

Click Here for more information on full course load requirements.

3. Are you currently working at the University of Illinois or elsewhere?

F-1 and J-1 students should not exceed the 20-hour per week cumulative maximum without special work permission.  You must factor in current work obligations before hiring an international student.

4. Are you a student in F-1 status with Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Most students in F-1 status with OPT are not limited to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week and must provide an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that does not specify “part-time employment not to exceed 20 hours per week.”  Students in OPT and departments with students in OPT should consult with ISSS regarding the specific parameters of their employment.

5. Are you a student in J-1 status on Academic Training (AT)?

Students in J-1 status on AT are not limited to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week and must have written permission if not sponsored by the University of Illinois.

Guidelines for J-1 Research Scholars, Short-Term Scholars or Visiting Professors

Employment opportunities for J-1 scholars are very restricted.  Unless special arrangements have been made, scholars may only be employed by the University of Illinois, by the sponsoring department, AND in the specialized field described on the DS-2019.

J-1 scholars may not change departments or accept additional employment in another department, even if it is in their field, without permission from the ISSS office.

If your department did not obtain the J-1 status for the individual, the department must consult with ISSS before offering employment.

Guidelines for H-1B Temporary Workers

The H-1B status is for individuals sponsored by a specific University department for professional employment.  Individuals in H-1B status may not receive payment from any source other than the University of Illinois sponsoring department unless under concurrent H-1B from another employer.  University-sponsored H-1B employees are only eligible for specific employment, reimbursements, and per diem.  They are not eligible for awards, honorariums, royalties, prizes, or human subject payments.  Very specific rules and regulations have been put in place by our federal government for what H-1B temporary workers can and cannot receive in terms of payments.  ISSS must grant approval prior to implementation of any changes to the terms of employment such as percentage, title, salary, duties, home organization, location, etc. Some changes may require a new H-1 petition to be filed with USCIS.  Please consult with your departmental human resource contact before offering or allowing any services for payment to be performed by an H-1B visa holder.

If your department did not obtain the H1-B status for the individual, the department must consult with ISSS before offering employment.

For Further Information

Summaries of immigration types and payments allowed can be found on the Foreign Nationals Payment Eligibility Grid on the OBFS website.

General information about international student, scholar and faculty immigration matters can be found on the ISSS web site homepage.


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