The information on this page pertains to international students in F-1 or J-1 status only. ISSS cannot advise on on-campus employment eligibility for other visa statuses.

On-campus employment refers to employment where a student is hired by a unit or department of the University of Colorado Boulder campus (CU Boulder) and paid by CU Boulder.

Students can find listings of on-campus jobs at the Student Employment Office.

If the employer is a private company that is physically located on the CU Boulder campus but provides direct services for students (e.g., Subway in the UMC), such employment would qualify as on-campus employment.

In some circumstances, on-campus employment can be located at an off-campus location when there is a documented affiliation with CU Boulder. ISSS needs to review each case before employment begins.

Some positions listed as on-campus jobs are for organizations that are NOT on-campus employers: the Graduate School of Banking, CU Foundation, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Students who have questions about whether a job is considered on-campus should consult ISSS.

Most international students are not eligible for on-campus jobs classified as “work study” as such positions are subsidized by federal financial aid for domestic students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents).


In order to be eligible for on-campus employment, international students in F-1 or J-1 status must:

  1. Be maintaining their nonimmigrant status;
  2. Be enrolled in a full-time course load or authorized equivalent in the current term or, in the case of summer or winter vacation, have not completed their degree and are enrolled full-time (or an authorized equivalent) in the next required term. 

Allowable Work Hours

International students can work on campus up to 20 hours a week while school is in session during the fall and spring semester. 

  • If a student has multiple on campus jobs, the total hours worked for all jobs cannot exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session.

The CU Boulder work week begins at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

No. Under no circumstances should an international student in F-1 or J-1 status exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session.

International students can work on campus full-time (more than 20 hours) during official school breaks (fall break, winter break, spring break) with approval from the university.

Note: During fall break, winter break, and spring break, if an international student in F-1 or J-1 status would like to work more than 50 hours in a bi-weekly pay period, Student Employment requires the student to submit an exception request form for approval.

Yes, international students can work full-time (more than 20 hours a week) during the Summer Term.

Note: The official Student Employment Summer Term does not require an Exception Request Form, but please see the Student Employment Summer calendar as Student Employment dates may differ from the academic calendar. Please consult the hiring department or Student Employment for more information.

Yes, international students can change from one on-campus employer to another without ISSS permission. Be aware that in the United States, there is an expectation of employment etiquette to make sure that you change employers appropriately and respectfully. Students should only accept a job offer if they plan to work for the offering department for at least 1 semester. Students should not accept on-campus employment offers for the sole purpose of obtaining an SSN.


On-campus employment is a benefit of maintaining F-1 and J-1 student status. International students are responsible for making sure employment does not violate immigration regulations and that they complete all necessary steps with the University.

  • J-1 Students: Prior to beginning any on-campus position, report your on-campus employer and the number of work hours you will work each week to ISSS.
  • All International Students: Complete required steps for being added to CU Boulder payroll.

Social Security Numbers and On-Campus Employment

International students working in the U.S. must obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). In order to apply for a SSN, a student must have a qualifying employment offer letter and a letter from ISSS.

The on-campus job offer letter must be printed on department letterhead and include the specific information below that is required by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Name of student (as listed on passport)
  • Description of the employment/ nature of the job
  • Anticipated or actual start date
    (no more than 30 days into the future)
  • Number of hours/ week student is expected to work
  • Name of employing CU Boulder department/ school
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Name of student’s immediate supervisor
  • Employer’s telephone number
  • Original signature with date (this must be an ink signature, not DocuSign)
  • Signatory’s title

Most CU Boulder departmental assistantship and fellowship letters work for SSA purposes if they contain an original signature.

In order to obtain an SSN, an international student in F-1/J-1 status needs a letter from ISSS verifying their eligibility. ISSS issues this letter when a student submits an appropriate request form, located in their MyISSS portal. There are two types of request forms:

  • Request for SSN Letter for On-Campus Employment (available in MyISSS portal)
  • Request for SSN Letter for Students with Fellowships & Assistantships (available in MyISSS portal)
  • After you received your SSN letter from the ISSS office, you can request a Social Security Number (SSN) card online and provide your documentation to the local Social Security (SSA) office.

  • An international student in F-1/J-1 status can start working prior to receiving the SSN!
  • A new international student in F-1 or J-1 status can start working on-campus as early as 30 days prior to the start date of classes in their first semester.

While it is possible to be paid initially without an SSN, all international students working on campus must receive an SSN as soon as possible in order to be properly reported in the CU Boulder employee system and to be able to properly file a tax return.

When students receive the SSN from the Social Security Administration, they should notify their employment Payroll Liaison. Please do not provide a copy of your SSN to ISSS as we do not keep records of SSNs.

Your Social Security Number is a piece of your personal identifiable information that you should keep in a safe place. You should be cautious about who you provide your SSN to. It is normal for employers, banks, and the Department of Motor Vehicles to ask for your SSN. In most cases, you should not provide your SSN over the phone or via email or text message. You could be victim of a scam if your SSN ends up in the wrong hands.

Students may think they need an SSN to get a bank account or driver’s license but this is not true. Certain banks do require an SSN in order to open a bank account, but most do not. ISSS recommends that students who do not have an SSN open a bank account with a bank that does not require an SSN. Chase, US Bank, and Wells Fargo are banks that do not require an SSN to open an account.

Meeting with CU International Tax Office

All new international employees, including student workers, who are not permanent residents of the United States are required to meet with a specialist from the CU International Tax Office to determine tax residency status and complete related paperwork.

Schedule Appointment

This meeting does not have to be completed prior to applying for an SSN but should be scheduled as soon as possible because appointment times are limited.

Helpful Handouts

Additional Resources