Tips for Hiring Departments:
Completing the I-9
It is the policy of the University of South Carolina to recruit, hire, train, promote, tenure, and otherwise make educational and personnel decisions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, genetics or veteran status. The University of South Carolina is intent upon avoiding discriminatory practices in the hiring process.
The information below is a selection of helpful tips when hiring an international student.
How to Complete the I-9 for an International Student
- F-1 and J-1 international students should select #4 "alien authorized to work" in
- They should write their program end date (found on the I-20 or DS-2019) as the work until date. Note that they will need to provide their hiring department with an updated I-20 or DS-2019 if they receive an extension during the time of their on-campus employment.
- They typically provide either the I-94 number or the foreign passport number and country of issuance. Social security cards should not be utilized for internaitonal student I-9 completion, as their social security cards will state "valid for work with DHS authorization only."
- Students who receive a "Tentative Nonconfirmation" from E-Verify can typically resolve the issue by calling the phone number that is provided in the tentative nonconfirmation letter. While receiving a TNC seems alarming, it's typically not difficult to resolve and is usually due to an error on the I-9.
Common Documents Used for the I-9
Most F-1/J-1 international students provide their hiring departments with the following for I-9 verification:
- An unexpired foreign passport
- The student's most recent I-94 (which can be printed from the CBP website. Select "Get Most Recent I-94." If the student has changed status since entering the U.S. last, then they would provide the I-797 Change of Status Approval instead.)
- I-20 or DS-2019 (which will reflect the end date of allowable work authorization)
- F-1 and J-1 student social security cards typically say "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION." Therefore these social security cards cannot be used for I-9 verification. (Source: USCIS website)
The Social Security Number and How it Relates to the I-9
Students can begin work prior to receiving their social security card. Students should not be prevented from starting work if they have applied for the social security card and are waiting for it to arrive. While the E-Verify is typically required to be completed within 3 days of the student's start date, the system will allow you to submit the E-Verify later if you are waiting for the student's SSN.
An E-Verify case is considered late if you create it later than the third business day after the employee first started work for pay. If the case you create is late, E-Verify will ask why, and you can either select one of the reasons provided or enter you own. One of the reasons provided is "Awaiting Social Security Number."
(Source: E-Verify User Manual)
Tips for Students:
Failing to follow regulations regarding on-campus employment can lead to immediate termination of the F-1 or J-1 immigration status. Not adhering to employment restrictions is a serious violation of the student visa category. You should specifically be aware of the following:
- You are responsible for tracking how many hours you work. ISS does not monitor this for each student. Your department likely will not be fully aware of international student regulations. It is your responsibility. If you work more than 20 hours/week (or 40 hours/week during an official school break), then you are at risk of having your immigration record terminated. (Hourly employees: the hours you report are on record and can be audited by the Department of Homeland Security.)
- You are not permitted to work after the end date on your I-20/DS-2019. You should always be aware of your I-20/DS-2019 end date and take steps to extend your document if you will not be graduating and wish to continue work on-campus. For more information on how to locate your I-20/DS-2019 end date, see this section of our website.
- Your passport should remain valid while you are employed on-campus. If your passport will expire, then you need to take the steps to renew it well before the expiration.
J-1 students must obtain a permission letter from International Student Services before beginning work. They should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information about the employment.
- Department where they are employed (i.e. Department of Mechanical Engineering; Campus Recreation, etc.)
- Number of hours/week
- Employment Begin and End Date
- Position title (i.e. graduate research assistant; cashier, etc.)
Obtaining the Social Security Number
A student employee without a social security number (which will include the majority of new international students as well as international students who have not worked in the U.S. before) will need to obtain an employment verification letter from your department and send it to email@example.com so that it can be signed by an international student advisor. A sample employment verification letter can be found as a part of the Social Security Card Application, which can be found on the ISS Forms Library. For more information about obtaining a social security number, see the Social Security section of the ISS website.
A graduate assistantship (which includes instructional, teaching, research, and staff assistantships) is a common type of on-campus employment that typically involves a tuition supplement and stipend in return for on-campus work. You can learn more about assistantships here.
International teaching assistants typically need to take the International Teaching Assessment upon arrival to the U.S. All graduate assistants should consult with their departments to determine requirements for report dates, stipend information, etc.
Students Who Are Enrolled from Outside the U.S.
The University Controller's Office has specified that international students who are enrolling in classes from outside the U.S. are not permitted to be employed at the University of South Carolina. This decision is not an immigration-related matter and ISS has no purview over whether or not work for the University is acceptable while outside the U.S.