Hiring Process for International Students

All UofM departments seeking to employ an international student should follow the instructions below which outlines the steps needed to employ an F-1 student.

On Campus Employment Eligibility For F-1 Students

Definition of On-Campus Employment

  1. On-campus employment includes work performed on the University premises, employed by the I-20 issuing institution. This includes work for departments or administrative offices, graduate assistantships, as well as jobs at the University's library, recreational center and campus labs.
  2. On-campus also includes employment with on-campus commercial firms (Starbucks, Peer Power) which provide services for students on campus in a University owned building.
  3. Work done at an off-campus location, which is educationally affiliated with the U of M. The student must be paid by the U of M.

Conditions of On-Campus Employment for F-1 International students

  • Must be a current F-1 student maintaining legal F-1 status and pursuing a full course of study - 9 credit hours for graduate students and 12 credit hours for undergraduates during the fall and spring semesters.
  • An exception will be made to the full-time enrollment requirement for an international F-1 student if it is their last semester of enrollment or they are working on the final phase of their degree (dissertation, thesis or final project) and are enrolled at least part-time.
  • Work does not have to be related to course of study.
  • On-campus work is limited to 20 hours per work week while school is in session.
  • Work can be full-time during official university holidays and academic breaks if the F-1 student will be returning to classes the following term. 
  • F-1 students may not work on campus after completion of their studies.
  • F-1 students are not eligible for the federal work-study program.
  • F-1 students do not require any special authorization to work on campus.
  • Concurrent enrollment at the University of Memphis and a community college or another university is not acceptable for enrollment requirements for employment eligibility at this university.

Timeline to Hire (
International Student Appointment Guide)

  • Hiring new international students' for Graduate Assistantships should begin 90 days prior to their first day of work. 
  • Students who have entered the US in initial SEVIS status to begin a new program can begin on-campus employment no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes.
  • Transfer students whose SEVIS record has been released to the UofM and have been issued an I-20 by the International Student Services (ISS) unit may engage in on-campus employment

Paperwork and Documentation Required For Employment

  1. The hiring department/manager must determine what type of work (teaching, research, administration, etc.) needs to be accomplished by the Graduate Assistant and what tuition and stipend amounts have been budgeted for the position.
  2. The hiring manager should prepare and send an offer letter to all new Graduate Assistants. An offer letter must only be sent to students who have completed the entire admissions process with Graduate Admissions. The offer letter must include the following: 
    • stipend and tuition amount, weekly hours contracted, and the number of semesters the award is for; 
    • notice to complete an I-9 form before the first day of work; 
    • requirement for a social security card copy to be on file before student can receive first payroll check; 
    • requirement for student to accept Graduate Assistantship offer. 
  3. Once the student accepts the offer, the hiring manager must share a copy of the offer letter with the ISS office at theworld@memphis.edu. The ISS unit will use the information submitted as proof of financial support in preparing the Form I-20 for the student to use in applying for a Visa. 
  4. The International Student Services unit will prepare the Form I-20 after it has verified that the student has been fully admitted into a degree program and has received a copy of the student's passport, proof of funds and or financial certification form. ISS will mail the Form I-20 directly to the student's physical address.
  5. The hiring manager should contact the student to verify receipt of the Form I-20 within a reasonable timeframe of two weeks or more. If delivery problems are apparent, the hiring manager may request for a SEVIS number from ISS for the student. The student will be able to use the SEVIS number provided to schedule consular appointments in advance. A Form I-20 must be received by the student prior to their appointment with the Consulate.
  6. The hiring manager must prepare an eContract for the Graduate Assistant. International student eContracts will need to be completed at least one month prior to the student's arrival. This allows time for departmental approvals, student signatures and internal processing to meet payroll deadlines. Please note that International Graduate Assistants are subject to the same rules as domestic Graduate Assistants with respect to non-exempt (hourly paid) and exempt (monthly paid) status.

    Service dates posted on the eContract will be used for Form I-9 verification of first day of work. Work hours are limited to 20 hours per week while classes are in session during the academic year. International students can work up to 40 hours a week provided departmental budget is available during summer and academic breaks.

Federal Government Regulated Dates That May Impact Employment

  • The earliest date for new international students to arrive in the United States is thirty days (30) prior to the international student orientation session.
  • Orientation dates can be found on the International Student Services website. 
  • Students who are offered a Graduate Assistantship should be encouraged to arrive in the USA at least 20 days prior to their first day of work in order to apply for a social security number or card. This is necessary as students must be in the USA for 10 days before they are eligible to apply for a social security number or card and allow another 10 days after the application to receive a social security number or card.

Government Required Forms For International Student Employees

  • Form I-94 - The International student must present a Form I-94 to the International Student Services unit within 15 days of arrival in the United States 
  • Social Security Card – The international student is required to provide a proof of employment form in support of their application for a social security card. This form must be completed by the hiring department and given to the student to take with them to the Office of Social Security. 
  • Proof of Employment - Social Security Work Verification Letter.
  • Form I-9 - All employees must file a properly completed Form I-9. This form can be completed in room 143 of the Administration Building prior to the first day of work. To assist in preparing your students, review the appropriate documents needed as indicated on the Shared Services Center.
  • Form W-4 - Students will be required to complete their payroll direct deposit forms and their Form W-4 at the Finance office. 

Hiring Manager's Checklist for First Day of Work

  1. Send the international student to Room 143 of the Administration Building to complete their Form I-9. Without a Form I-9, an employee cannot do any work. Assist the student to determine how this can be resolved and reschedule their work.
  2. Verify in Banner, on the PEAEMPL screen that the I-9 field has been populated. This field will populate overnight and will not show the day it is entered.
  3. Update the eContract if there have been any changes to the original e-Contract after you have verified the I-9. Modify the eContract with all relevant service start dates to reflect the first day your Graduate Assistant is authorized to work (e.g. not the pay dates, but actual service work date).

Helpful Resources

Health Insurance for International Students
Graduate Assistantships
I-94 Form
I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form