How to Hire an International Student

This information is designed for the prospective employer to clarify the legal obligations of both the employer and the international student. Hiring an international student is easier than you may expect.

The Office for International Student Services (OISS) at Portland Community College is available to assist you in this process. Should you have questions about the immigration regulations authorizing employment, the OISS staff will be glad to answer them.

Who is an international student?

International students enter the United States using one of two student visas. The majority of the students in our program are classified as F-1 students. A small number are J-1 students. The primary distinction between the two classifications is that F-1 students usually have private sources of funding, whereas J-1 students often have governmental or international agency funding. Although the primary purpose of F-1 and J-1 student status is to study in the United States, both classifications allow for off-campus employment. Verify if Student is International in Banner

How can an international student work on campus?

F-1 students can work on campus without any special permission from immigration as long as:

  • the work does not exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year
  • the student has maintained their F-1 immigration status

Since on-campus work does not require any special work authorization, students do not need an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), nor an authorization from an international student advisor. Students can be paid directly by the employer.

How can an international student work off campus?

The regulations allow for practical training for F-1 students. Practical training allows for paid employment in the student’s field of study at an off-campus location. There are two types of practical training: Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  Please see the links below for further information:

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

Do I withhold tax from the international student employee?

Yes, international students do have taxes withheld from income earned in the United States, with some notable exceptions. F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five calendar years, are nonresidents for tax purposes. Most PCC international students will be classified as such. A nonresident student is exempt from FICA/FUTA (social security/unemployment) withholding, if enrolled in 6 or more credit courses each term they work. Employers should refer to Internal Revenue Service publications 515 and 519 for further information.

Further, approximately 45 countries have tax treaties with the United States. Students from a tax treaty country may have part of their income exempt from federal taxation. Students who claim this exemption, they must be able to prove eligibility under the tax treaty. Summaries of these treaties can be found in IRS Publication 901, which is available at the IRS website. (If a student wishes to claim a tax treaty exemption, they must file IRS Form 8233 upon completing the I-9, along with a requisite statement as outlined in Appendix A of IRS Publication 519.)