J-1 On-Campus Employment Authorization

All J-1 students must obtain authorization for on-campus employment* before beginning any type of work. This includes assistantships (TA, GSR) and fellowships.

*The term “employment” encompasses both paid positions as well as unpaid internships. Volunteering (defined as donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation) does NOT require work authorization.

NOTE: J-1 students sponsored by another program (i.e. Fulbright, CONACYT, etc.) should contact their program sponsors directly regarding required on-campus employment authorization documents.


In general, students in J-1 status are eligible for on-campus employment, given the following conditions:

  • Student is in good academic standing;
  • Student continues to engage in a full course of study, except for official school breaks and the student's annual vacation;
  • Employment totals no more than 20 hours per week, except during official school breaks and the student's annual vacation; and
  • The student has applied for and received approval for the specific employment in advance and in writing. 

IMPORTANT: On-campus Assistantships or Fellowships: If your employment is pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship, you are required to obtain prior work authorization approval from ISPO. Please follow the application guidelines outlined below.  

Obtaining Authorization

Students who are offered on-campus employment must submit the following documents to ISPO at least 5 business days prior to beginning employment:

Authorization can be given for up to 12 months at a time maximum. However, if your employment offer letter specifies any time shorter than this, then it will only be granted for that specific length of time. Be sure to renew your work authorization if it expires on a quarterly basis!

NOTE: Our processing time is five business days from the receipt of your completed form and job offer letter. Authorization cannot be given retroactively, so please plan accordingly.

Social Security and Taxes

All persons must have a Social Security number to be employed in the USA. This is not the Campus ID number assigned by UCSD. To apply for a Social Security number, you will need to present a valid passport, I-94, DS-2019, employment authorization letter from the International Students & Programs Office, and a verification letter from the International Students & Programs Office to any local Social Security office. The nearest offices to UCSD are located in Kearny Mesa or downtown San Diego. Visit www.ssa.gov to find the nearest Social Security office to you.

Students in J-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA), however they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes. Tax forms are available from February through April of each year. Check the Internal Revenue Service website at www.irs.gov for federal tax information and the CA Franchise Tax Board at www.ftb.ca.gov for California tax information. The International Center also provides tax support information from February through April of each year.

Renewal of On-Campus Work Authorization

On-campus employment authorization can only be given for the specified dates on your job offer letter. If you need to extend beyond the end date of your current authorization, please do so at least 5 business days before your current authorization letter expires. On-campus employment renewals require a new authorization application.

Before your current on-campus work authorization expires, allow yourself enough time to:

  • Obtain an updated job offer letter from your employer
  • Obtain updated On-Campus Employment Authorization via the J-1 Letter Request Form

Do not procrastinate! On-campus work authorization cannot be backdated, and starting employment without receiving appropriate authorization could have a negative impact on your J-1 status.