Tufts departments and hiring units are encouraged to hire international students to eligible positions and job opportunities at Tufts. This guide is to provide a basic overview to certain immigration considerations in hiring international students.
Hiring and Payroll Procedures
All hiring procedures involving student workers, including international students, are managed through Tufts Support Services. However, the International Center provides guidance on immigration-related factors involved in the hiring process.
International Students Defined
For the purposes of this section, 'international students' refer to students at Tufts or at another US-based institution of higher education who have a non-immigrant student visa status. They include:
currently-enrolled students working toward their educational objectives
students who have recently completed, and who are approved for post-completion student visa work benefits, such as Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT)
Depending on the student's visa sponsor (Tufts or another college / university) as well as the student's academic status (currently-enrolled versus recently graduated), work benefit options and limitations may vary. Please read through the bottom section for more details. If you have any questions, please contact the International Center.
Immigration Compliance Responsibility
A major consideration for international students is immigration compliance responsibility. Under student visa regulations, the individual student has the primary responsibility for understanding and complying with any restrictions governing their eligibility to work, including restrictions on allowed employers, employment types, and hourly limitations. Students who fail to comply with appropriate employment regulations, even inadvertently and unintentionally, may be deemed to have engaged in unauthorized employment, leading to a loss of valid immigration status. Departments are responsible for following any applicable University hiring policies and procedures and for supporting international student compliance with immigration restrictions.
Currently Enrolled Tufts International Students Offered Employment at Tufts
International students currently attending Tufts are permitted to work for any campus unit or department on a part-time basis (up to 20 hours / week) while school is in session, and full-time (over 20 hours / week) during school breaks and vacations. The hourly limitations are inclusive of all on-campus jobs. Currently enrolled students in good standing do not require special work authorization to accept on-campus employment, but may need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if they do not already have one. A SSN is not needed to be offered, or to start, employment; however, students who need to apply for a SSN will need to have an Evidence of Employment form completed and signed by their hiring manager, and directed to the International Center for further instructions on how to apply for a SSN.
Recently Completed International Students Offered Employment at Tufts
Tufts students who have completed their programs are no longer eligible for on-campus employment without specific work authorization. The most common form of authorization is post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is a benefit that allows F-1 student visa holders to accept employment related to their major field of study. "General" employment not related to their major field of study is not permitted. OPT is valid for up to one year; however, students in certain STEM fields may be able to extend their authorization up to three years. Students cannot accept any work until they receive an Employment Authorization (EAD) work permit card from USCIS, indicating that their OPT is approved, and the start date of their OPT period has been reached.
International Students from Other Institutions Offered Employment at Tufts
Any international student under the student visa sponsorship of another higher education institution is eligible to work at Tufts only if they have received valid US work authorization through their home institution. They would then present this work authorization when completing their I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form with TSS. Most student visa-based work benefits are subject to certain restrictions such as hourly limitations and limitations on duration. Departments seeking to hire students who principally attend other institutions should refer the student back to their home institution's international office, or to the International Center for additional guidance and direction. Such students may not commence working at Tufts until they are able to present valid US work authorization.
Immigration Sponsorship beyond Student Visa Benefits
Tufts departments interested in retaining an employee beyond the expiration of any student visa-based work benefit should contact the International Center for a review of work visa options available through Tufts, or as described in this section of our web site. Ideally, this discussion should take place well in advance of the termination of student visa benefits, as work visa sponsorship procedures may take 6 months or longer to complete.
Tufts international students who are currently enrolled and who hold valid F-1 or J-1 student visa status under Tufts's visa sponsorship are permitted to work for any Tufts University department, office, or unit. Employment is subject to hourly limitations as indicated:
20 hours per week during the academic year, while registered for classes
20+ hours permitted during summer vacation and official school breaks
Departments should work with TSS to process new student employment.
Social Security Numbers
If the student worker is on a F-1 student visa and does not already have a Social Security Number, the hiring manager should assist the student with completion of an Evidence of Employment form (F-1 students) and direct the student to the International Center for additional information regarding the Social Security application process.
International students attending other institutions of higher education who are offered employment with a Tufts department must secure employment authorization through their home institutions before commencing employment at Tufts. In most cases, students should consult with the international office at their home university. Students may not start employment with Tufts until they have secured valid US employment authorization.
Depending on the employment situation and the student's specific immigration and academic history, non-Tufts students may or may not be eligible to work at Tufts. Eligiblity will vary according to each student's situation. In certain cases, the Tufts department may be asked to provide a tentative job offer or job description so that the student's home institution can assess the student's eligibility for different employment authorization options. The home institution will work with the student to identify work options available to that student under the terms and limitations of their student visa.
Post-completion Employment (F-1 OPT or J-1 Academic Training)
International students on F-1 and J-1 visas may be given opportunities for employment at Tufts after completion of degree requirements. However, once degree requirements are completed, students must secure employment authorization through their home institution prior to commencing or continuing any employment. In most cases, students would need to secure post-completion Optional Practical Training (for F-1 students) or Academic Training (for J-1 students). These employment authorization / work benefit categories limit students to engaging in employment related to their majors.
Tufts students interested in employment options after completion of degree requirements should contact the International Center for information about options. Tufts students may not continue on-campus jobs after completing degree requirements, unless such jobs qualify as post-completion practical training.
International students who are graduating or who have graduated from other universities should work with the international offices at their home institutions to secure valid US employment authorization. Authorization must be secured prior to commencing employment at Tufts. Tufts departments interested in hiring such students may be asked to issue an offer letter to assist the student in applying for work benefits, but otherwise have no role in assisting further with post-completion OPT or Academic Training (see, however, the next section on the STEM Extension of OPT).
Post-completion Employment (F-1 STEM Extension of OPT)
Certain international students holding F-1 student visas may be eligible for a two-year extension of their one year post-completion OPT employment benefits, allowing continued employment in certain circumstances. Under this benefit - called the 24-month STEM Extension of post-completion Optional Practical Training ("STEM Extension OPT") - students may qualify for this additional employment authorization if they meet certain eligibility requirements, including:
They completed a US degree in certain STEM fields specifically designated by the Department of Homeland Security as eligible for the extension
They currently have authorization to engage in post-completion Optional Practical Training based on recent completion of a US degree
International students who completed their most recent US degree at Tufts should consult with the International Center to determine eligibility. Students who completed their most recent degree at another institution should consult with the international office at their degree-granting institution.
To qualify for this benefit, the Tufts hiring department must fulfill several obligations:
Agree to provide adequate training, supervision and resources connected to a training opportunity related to the student's STEM eligible degree
Assist the student in completing a Form I-983 Training Plan, which must also be signed by the student's department supervisor or hiring manager in Sections 4 and 6 of the I-983 form
Department supervisors and managers can use this Tip Sheet to assist in completing the Department's sections of Form I-983
Notify the student's school in the event the student departs or is terminated from the position
Review and sign the student's evaluation of progress (midpoint and final) in meeting training goals, which is page 5 of the Form I-983 Training Plan
The Form I-983 Training Plan should be signed by a department supervisor who is best positioned to monitor the student's training experience and program. For more information about the STEM Extension option, please contact the International Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.