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Immigration Law

F-1 and J-1 students, by virtue of the I-20 or the DS 2019, have a contractual relationship with TCU and the US Government to study full time in their program, to make progress towards their degree and to follow US laws and regulations related to employment, travel and otherwise participate fully in US culture.

The specifics of these regulations are non-negotiable and apply across the board.  During your international workshop, we will cover the basics of the law, and during the year host a series of workshops supporting our students.  Within the guidelines of federal regulations, International Services will do everything possible to give you the same opportunities as your US counterparts.



International students are eligible to work in two basic forms, depending upon their degree.  Undergraduates and Graduates can work on campus only during their first year, with the exception being students in “performance” degrees within the School of Music.  These matters are covered extensively during your international workshop but as time and your academic experience mature, many programs offer a secondary form of employment through Curricular Practical Training.  The following are the basic types of employment available to TCU students.

On-Campus Employment

All international students are eligible for a total of 20 hours per week of on-campus employment.  Grad students should pay particular attention to their assistantship, as the number of hours is cumulative.  That is, 20 hours includes all forms of employment and 1 hour over is a violation of your status.

Curricular Practical Training

Students in programs that REQUIRE an internship may participate in CPT, which is employment based off-campus, directly connected to their degree and class.  This program is only available to specific degrees and participation must be required for graduation or successful completion of the class.

Optional Practical Training

OPT is a 1-year (extendable for STEM majors) program designed to provide employment-based training related to a student’s degree upon graduation.  Many students, after completing their degree at TCU, use this program as a platform to file for H visas or to transit to another university or degree level.

Academic Training

For J-1 students in degree-seeking programs, Academic Training is a 1 year to 18-month opportunity to get work/training in your field of student.  AT requires graduation for eligibility and, like OPT, can only be in your major field of study.

All forms of employment require the filing of federal paperwork in the Office of International Services as a component of eligibility.  No employment for F and J visa holders is possible without taking this step.


Filing for Social Security

In order to be employed as an international student, you must be in valid status, eligible for the type of employment you are seeking, in possession of a Social Security number.  Obtaining the Social Security number requires the following:

  • Letter of Employment in hand
  • Letter of employment eligibility from International Services
  • I-94 Proof of Legal admission to the US
  • I-20 or DS 2019 Certificate of Eligibility
  • Valid Passport
  • Valid Visa


I-9 and Electronic Verification

The final step in the process is to complete the I-9 form.  Upon completion of the I-9 form—which is dependent upon the Social Security number—you will make an appointment with the Office of International Services to have your employment electronically verified by USCIS.  At the completion of that process, you are eligible for employment and in possession of a Social Security number, one which stays with you through your time in the US.