Employment is defined as any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other compensation.
The F and J student visas are intended for full-time study. Employment options under these visas are strictly regulated, and in many cases, prohibited. Students should not assume they are automatically eligible to work in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security considers unauthorized employment to be the most serious violation of a student visa status. In securing a visa, students have to prove to the satisfaction of Harvard and the U.S. embassy that their primary purpose is to pursue a full-time course of study in the United States and that they have sufficient funding to do so.
Student visas do normally allow for some on-campus work while the student is enrolled full-time at Harvard. On-campus employment is limited to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session. Both F and J visas allow for limited post-graduation work permission that must be applied for in advance. Click on the links above for detailed student visa information.
Most scholar visas that allow work permission are employer specific, allowing employment only with the specific department at Harvard. The J-1 scholar visa allows for some occasional employment outside Harvard under certain circumstances, which must be authorized in advance by the HIO. The H, TN, O and E-3 visas normally prohibit employment that is not specifically defined in the original visa application. There are a few exceptions to these regulations; for details, please review the visa categories above and contact the HIO.
It is advisable to plan your finances carefully before leaving home because work permission for students, scholars, and spouses is restricted by U.S. government regulations. You should not rely on being able to earn extra money to cope with financial difficulties. Accompanying family members of the principal visa holder should note that employment is not permitted on the F-2, H-4, O-3, TD, or B-2 visa under any circumstances. Individuals in J-2 visa status may apply to the USCIS for permission to work. Individuals in F-1, J-1, O-1, TN, or H-1B visa status should be aware that, although they might have permission to work in the United States with these visa categories, that permission is usually job specific and does not usually permit work in another field or with a different employer while being employed at Harvard.
Anyone earning money in the United States is required to have a U.S. Social Security Number. You can apply for a Social Security Number only after arriving in the United States. F-1 students must have either a job or a job offer in order to apply for a Social Security Number. It may take up to six weeks to obtain the Social Security Number. More detailed information will be available at the HIO after you arrive at Harvard.