Unlawful Employment Consequences for F-1, H-4, J-1, M-1 Visa Holders


The Serious Consequences of Unlawful Employment

Students and their families need to be aware of what constitutes unlawful employment and the seriousness of the consequences. Students also need to be aware that even if they are working unlawfully, they are still required to file a U.S. tax return for their earnings. Below are the most common examples of unlawful employment.

Some of the examples of unlawful employment for F-1 students are listed below:

  • Commencing CPT employment before receiving approval in writing on page three (3) of your I-20.
  • Working under CPT authorization, for an employer other than that specified on your I-20.
  • Working after the CPT authorization end date noted on your I-20.
  • Working off campus without CPT or OPT authorization or an EAD card.
  • Working more than twenty (20) hours off campus while authorized for pre-completion OPT.
  • Working after the end date noted on your EAD card before being approved for some other employment eligibility.

Some of the examples of unlawful employment for M-1 students are listed below:

  • Working on campus.
  • Working off campus without an EAD.
  • Working after the end date noted on your EAD card before being approved for some other employment eligibility.

Some of the examples of unlawful employment for students in the process of changing status to F-1 are listed below:

  • J-1 visa holders; working after your DS-2019 program end date and before F-1 approval for change of status.
  • H-4 visa holders; working anytime while under H-4 status.

Departure and Re-Entry to the U.S. with New I-20 Required

F-1, M-1 and J-1 visa holders who have worked unlawfully are not eligible to apply for reinstatement from within the United States. If you are out of status for unlawful employment, you will need to submit required documentation to be issued a new I-20 (DS-2019 if you are a J-1 visa holder) then depart the United States and re-enter with the new I-20 to resume valid F-1, M-1 or J-1 status.

Filing a U.S. Tax Return is Required

Students who have worked unlawfully who are required to file a U.S. tax return should attend the tax workshop sponsored by the IISS office or consult with their tax prepare.