J-1: Work Authorization

Authorization to Work

A Social Security Number. To put you on the payroll, your employer will need your Social Security number, which you can obtain by applying for a Social Security card. Take your passport (if you are Canadian you may use another form of photo-bearing identification), I-94 Departure Record card, the pink copy of your Form DS-2019, and a letter at the OISS to an office of the Social Security Administration.

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. When you begin work, you and your employer must complete Form I-9, which requires you to document your identity and work authorization according to directions on the back of the Form. Of the various items acceptable as documentation, you may find that the most convenient combination is your passport (or other photo-bearing identification if you are Canadian), I-94 Departure Record card, the pink copy of Form DS-2019, and your J-1 Responsible Officer's written work authorization. Your employer, who keeps Form I-9, will make copies of the documents you submit, and return the originals to you. Form I-9 must be updated any time that you receive a renewal of your permission for "Academic Training."

Social Security and Other Taxes

Social Security taxes. In general, as a J-1 student, you will be exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes for your first five years in the United States, as long as you continue to declare non-resident status for tax purposes. See Internal Revenue Service Publication 519, "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens."

Federal, state and local taxes. Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the United States and your home government, your earnings as a J-1 will be subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. By April 15 of each year you must file a federal income tax return covering the prior calendar year to determine whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming.

Never Work without PRIOR Authorization

As a J-1 student, you may be eligible for employment opportunities in the United States, but employment without proper authorization is a serious violation of your status. Remember that before you start any kind of employment, you must first consult your J-1 Responsible Officer, whose written approval is necessary in advance.