POMS Reference

RM 10211: Alien Evidence for an SSN

TN 2 (02-10)

All F1 students must submit evidence of nonimmigrant status per RM 10211.135 and the first page of Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) as evidence of immigration status. The first page of Form I-20 is the Primary Immigration Document for F-1 students. In addition, SSA requires F-1 students to submit verification of employment status.

NOTE: In the Enumeration system, select I-20 in the Primary DHS Document field, from the “Proof of Legal Alien Status” page. EXCEPTION: If the F-1 student has a currently valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) such as an I-766, the EAD is sufficient evidence of immigration status and employment authorization, even in the absence of an I-94 and an I-20. For additional information on EADs, see RM 10211.420.

A. Evidence of employment authorization, and employment status for an F1

In addition to the evidence of nonimmigrant status and I-20, an F1 must submit evidence of employment authorization by submitting evidence of “employment status”. Evidence of employment status varies depending on the type of employment. Refer to the following chart to determine what evidence of employment status is required and when evidence of employment authorization must be submitted.

Type of Employment

Evidence of Employment Status

General on-campus work (includes students receiving scholarships or reduced tuition)

For details on evidence of general on-campus work, see RM 10211.245.

Option 1:

  • A letter from the Designated School Official (DSO); and either:

  • A recent pay slip; or

  • A letter from the student’s employer.

Option 2:

  • A letter from the student’s employer signed off by the DSO.

For details on evidence of employment status, see RM 10211.270.

Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship

For details, see RM 10211.250.

Curricular practical training (CPT)

For details on evidence of CPT, see RM 10211.255.

Form I-20, page 2 completed showing employment information. For details, see RM 10211.255.

Any other type of employment, including:

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • Economic Hardship

  • International organization

For details, see RM 10211.240B, in this section.

An EAD (I-766).

EADs issued to foreign students will not reflect the approved type of work (e.g., OPT). A student submitting an EAD may or may not be identified as a foreign student (i.e., F1 or M1) on the EAD.

For additional information on EADs, follow, RM 10211.420.

B. Background information on employment authorization for an F1

1. General F1 status

The F-1 nonimmigrant alien classification is for foreign students pursuing a full course of study in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - approved academic institutions and language training programs in the U.S. F-1 students do not have DHS - granted general employment authorization but, when maintaining student status, may work in employment connected with their purpose for admission to the U.S. (i.e., as student). This employment can include

  • General on-campus jobs (includes graduate program teaching assistantships and fellowships) or

  • Curricular practical training (CPT).

F-1 students may also work in optional practical training (OPT), internships with an international organization or, in the general economy in cases of economic hardship (e.g., the currency of the student’s country has been devalued).

2. OPT

An F1 student must apply to DHS for authorization for temporary employment for OPT. If approved by DHS, the student will receive an EAD. The DSO sometimes completes page 2 of the I-20 showing approval for OPT, but an EAD from DHS is also required.

OPT may take place while school is in session, on the student’s annual vacation or other times when school is not in session, and after completion of the course of study or after completion of all degree requirements.

OPT may take place on OR off campus.

F-1 and M-1 English-language-program students are ineligible for optional practical training.

3. Severe economic hardship

An F-1 student must apply to DHS for employment authorization based upon “severe economic hardship” caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g., loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills). If approved by DHS, the student will receive an EAD.

Generally, work due to economic hardship would occur off campus.

4. Internship with an international organization

If offered employment by a recognized international organization, an F-1 student must apply for and be granted an EAD for such work by DHS.

C. Reference

  • RM 10211.135, Evidence of Non-immigrant Status for an SSN Card

  • RM 10211.245, Evidence of General On-Campus Employment for an F1 (Foreign Student) for an SSN Card

  • RM 10211.250, Evidence of On-Campus Employment for an F1 (Foreign Student) with a Scholarship, Reduced Tuition, Fellowship, or Graduate Assistantship for an SSN Card

  • RM 10211.255, Evidence of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for an F1 (Foreign Student) for an SSN Card

  • RM 10211.420, Employment Authorization for Non-immigrants