Work in the USA

So you’re planning on studying abroad in the U.S. Unfortunately, these days that is an expensive proposition. Of course, you’ve already got your international student loans and you’ve applied for as many scholarships as possible, but still, you’re not quite sure if you can make ends meet.

You’re not alone. Many international students struggle with expenses while studying abroad in the U.S and gainful employment is at times the only way to fill the gap. Finding that employment may be more difficult than you imagine however, as the U.S government has taken a hard stance against working illegally in the country(especially in recent years).

Thankfully, if you’re looking for help finding a job to pay the bills—or just to gain experience–then you’ve come to the right place. Here are a couple of tips to help get you started.

Can International Students Work Without A Green Card?

First off, it’s important to understand what is legal work and what isn’t as an international student.

When you were accepted into an American university, you were given an F1 student visa. That visa allows you to work for up to 20 hours per week during regular, full-time quarters or semesters and up to 40 hours between quarters or semesters and during breaks.

However, you can only work on campus, for your university or a contractually obligated private, fully on-campus entity. For example, you can work for a bookstore on campus or a coffee shop, but you can’t work for a construction company even if the current construction site is on campus.  

Furthermore, unlike U.S students who can just apply online to positions on campus, international students must apply for a work authorization release through their designated school official(DSO) which can take up to 30 days. 

As far as off-campus work goes, international students on F1 visas are only allowed to work off-campus ‘in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student’s enrollment’ or because of ‘emergent circumstances’ like military conflict or international financial crises.

Finally, as far as internships go, international students are allowed to be full or part-time interns, as long as they intern for an ‘international organization’ and remain enrolled at a U.S university.

All of these restrictions and requirements can seem daunting, but there are plenty of resources on campus to help clarify things. If you ever have questions you should always look to your DSO or go to the source, for more information. 

Create Your New American Resume

Now that you know where you can and can’t work it’s time to prepare for U.S interviews and job applications. The first thing you’ll need to do is create an American resume. 

Every country has its own form of a resume, sometimes called a CV. In the U.S resumes are concise and self-promotional. This may be a big change from your country of origin. It’s important to make sure your resume is in the right format and contains all the necessary information, without any additional fluff, before applying to jobs. 

There are a number of differences between American resumes and international resumes you should be aware of. For example, in Denmark, it is common to include your marital status, number of children, and even a headshot in your CV. In the U.S this would be seen as too much personal information.

U.S employers don’t need to know anything about your personal life other than maybe your hobbies. In fact, they try and avoid that information as much as possible for fear of a discrimination lawsuit. 

Thankfully, getting through the potential faux pas of American resumes in 2020 is easier than ever. There are a number of resources online to help international students discover the differences between countries’ resume formats and requirements and formulate their new American versions for use in applications. 

Prepare For The Interview Process

Once again, interviews in the U.S can be very different from interviews in other parts of the world and it’s important to know how to conduct yourself during the process. 

For example, in Japan, it is common for interviews to stretch on well past an hour, while in the U.S they usually last only 30 minutes or less. Also, Japanese interviewees don’t read your resume until they are sitting down with you for the interview. In the U.S it’s very different. The hiring manager will most likely have already read your resume and done an online search to verify your qualifications. 

Also, in U.S interviews, as opposed to many other countries, your age and gender are not a part of the process. In fact, if they are, employers can be sued from discrimination. Avoiding interview pitfalls like the above can be difficult as an international student from a completely different culture. That’s why it pays to do your research ahead of time if you want to land a job while studying abroad.

Try A Temporary Or Interim Job To Gain Experience

In the U.S job experience is probably the most important quality employers are looking for. So it pays to gain experience in any way possible while studying abroad. 

But what if you have been applying for job after job in the U.S and are unable to land anything? Well, it may be time to try getting a temp job. Temporary staffing firms and hr staffing firms often offer temporary employment to recent graduates or those looking to gain experience while they study. 

At times these jobs can even count as internships or they may take place through campus affiliated companies which means they are legal options for international students.


Finally, in the U.S networking is vital to landing any job. The fact is according to a recent Linkedin survey, some 85% of U.S jobs are filled through networking. That means when you come to the U.S to study, one of the first things you should be doing is creating a Linkedin account to start networking.

You are far more likely to land a job because of someone you know in a class, or through a hobby, than you are by simply applying online all day. So remember, don’t be afraid to network.

Whether you’re struggling to pay the bills or if you’re just looking to gain some work experience, finding a job in the U.S can be a challenge. International student have more hurdles to jump than most. Still, with the right research and enough patience, you can put your F1 visa to good use earning money in the States while you gain your degree.


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