Employment Resources for International Students

 

What is Employment?

"Employment" is any type of work performed, or services provided, in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, lodging, or for any other benefit.  The U.S. government has a wide definition of 'employment', so it is very important to understand your work authorization options and have any necessary approvals/documentation before work begins. 

Unpaid Internships and Volunteer Positions

Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns without additional authorization, where this practice does not violate U.S. labor law. Refusing or delaying payment to make a position "unpaid" is considered a violation of your F-1 or J-1 student status.

Unpaid internships are a very specific type of opportunity in labor law that is of benefit to the intern and not necessarily the company.  With bona fide unpaid internships, no one would get paid—international or domestic, it is advertised as unpaid, the position is usually called ‘unpaid intern’, you are not refusing or delaying payment to make it ‘unpaid’ etc), and it does not violate any labor laws.

As it is not considered ‘employment’ you do not need work authorization for it.   It is recommended that you keep thorough documentation, such as a copy of the original position posting and/or a letter from the organization, showing that the position is a true unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity. 

If you are changing anything about the opportunity to “make” it an unpaid internship, or if you will eventually get paid for doing the same job, then it is most likely not a bona fide unpaid internship and you would need approved work authorization to do it.

See the Department of Labor Unpaid Internship Factsheet for more information.

Starting Your Own Business/Entrepreneurs

With some F-1 and J-1 Student work authorization options, you can start your own business, as long as you are operating legally and have any required business licenses.   Remember than you will require work authorization for any work that you do. 

USCIS has created an Entrepreneur Pathways website to provide information and guidance in operating your own in business in the U.S. You can review this website to answer questions and see your work authorization options. If you plan on starting a business or are thinking about ways you can continue your business after your student work authorization ends, you may want to consult an immigration attorney.     

Helpful Links

Campus Career Offices

In addition to Career Advancement and UChicago Grad, many divisions and programs have their own career offices.  Did we miss something? Please send an email to international-affairs@uchicago.edu.

Booth School of Business

http://career.chicagobooth.edu/

Chicago Booth Career Services
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Suite 212
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Tel:773.702.7405
Fax: 773.702.9252
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Harris School of Public Policy

http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/career-development

Phone 773.834.9082

Fax 773.834.1162

Email career-development@uchicago.edu

Law

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/students/careerservices

Telephone: 773-702-9625

Fax: 773-702-3154

Email: career_services@law.uchicago.edu

Physical Sciences Division

Computer Science Professional Program

Financial Math: Edonna Larkins

Statistics: Laura Rigazzi

SSA http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/career-services
Social Sciences Division

MAPSS: Will Gossin-Wilson

Priztker

http://pritzker.uchicago.edu/current/students/advising/cap.shtml

During the third and fourth year of medical school, Pritzker Students attend one on one meetings with their advisors. Pritzker Students are assigned a career advisor based on their participation in the Pritzker Societies.

Do's and Don'ts for International Job Applicants

Do's and Don'ts for Employers

Tax Withholding and Other New Employee Forms

I received a blank I-9, W-4, or other tax form from my employer.  What is this and what do I need to do with it?

When you get hired, employees and employers are required to fill out a few forms that establish the employee's legal right to work in the U.S. and their tax withholding elections.  'Tax withholding' means the amount of money that is withheld from each paycheck for federal, state, and/or local taxes. You will typically need to complete these forms within 2-3 days of beginning employment.

Can OIA help me fill out or review these tax or new employee forms?

OIA can assist with your F-1/J-1 immigration questions, but we are not Human Resources, Payroll, or tax experts. As such, we are unable to help you complete or review your employment on-boarding forms or tax documents.  However, there are several resources available where you can find more information.  Many of these are listed in the section below.

I have questions about filling these forms out.  Where can I get help?

There are several resources available for you to get help with filling out your I-9 and W-4 forms:

  •  Contact your employer's Payroll or HR representative. If you're not sure who to contact, start with the person who instructed you to fill out the forms
  • Review University’s Payroll workshop on Tax Withholdings and forms for a basic overview of the process and filling out the forms
  • Review the IRS information for 'Aliens Employed in the U.S.'. This will give you detailed instructions and links to other resources
  • Learn about determining your tax residency on our tax filing page. You will likley need to determine your tax residency status** to complete these forms.
  • USCIS I-9 Resources, including the USCIS I-9 Handbook for Employers help orient you to the form and your rights as an employee.  The I-9 handbook also explains how to complete these forms for employers.

**Your tax residency status is for tax purposes only and is NOT related to your immigration status. It is possible be in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status and be considered a 'resident for tax purposes'. Visit the link above for more information.

 

Get a New Job? Resources for New Employees

You've been offered the job; now what?  Here is a selection of resources to help you navigate the next steps.