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J-1: Employment Authorization

There are strict rules defining when employment is prohibited for a student in J-1 status and when that student is permitted to accept employment. These rules are categorized in various ways:, including whether it will be on or off-campus employment, whether the employment will occur before or after graduation, and whether it is related to the student's major or not. Below you will find the rules related to most employment scenarios. Please contact ISSS for any questions you may have before accepting employment.

On-campus during school

International students holding J-1 visas are eligible for any on-campus employment while they remain full-time students in good status, provided their program sponsor approves this employment. Any employment must be limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but you may be permitted to work full-time during all school breaks. The rules apply equally to both undergraduate and graduate students and for all types of campus employment, from dining hall services to graduate assistant positions.

The three main employers of on-campus jobs are JMU, Aramark (dining services) and Follet Higher Education Group (bookstore.) JMU on-campus jobs listing can be found on the Student Work Experience Center's homepage. International Students holding F-1 visas are restricted to Institutional Employment jobs only (marked with an IE). Application information for Aramark to work for Dining Services and employment information for Follet to work for the Bookstore.

Following are the steps needed once you have secured employment on campus:

For individuals without a social security number:

  • Download the Social Security Number Letter
  • Have the supervisor complete the blank spaces found in the letter to the Social Security Office and sign it
  • Bring the completed and signed letter to the ISSS Office (JMAC6 Suite 23)
  • Go to the Social Security Office to apply for a social security number which will then typically be sent 7 to 10 business days to the applicant's address. The following documents should be taken to the Social Security Office when you apply for your number:

For everyone:

  • Bring passport and immigration documents to the ISSS office to update SEVIS records
  • If your program sponsor is someone other than JMU, bring written confirmation that they approve the employment
  • Complete an I-9 Form with your employer (ISSS completes these forms if JMU if the employer)
  • Meet with the payroll office of your employer (For JMU, the contact person is Sherry Willis in Payroll Services Office, Massanutten Hall 241 - Tel: 568-8034)