What are the Immigration guidelines regarding student employment?

The Immigration guidelines state “a student may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session; full time during those periods when school is not in session or during the annual break”.

How is full time employment defined?

The IRS defines full time on-campus employment as 40 hours per work week.

How is a work week defined?

At WVU, a work week begins at 12am on Sunday morning and ends at 11:59pm the following Saturday night.

How is a semester term defined?

Immigration guidelines state "when school is in session."  For the purposes of this process, school will be considered in session during the semester term which begins with the first day of classes and ends the last day of final exams.

How many hours are International Student Employees (ISEs) permitted to work during periods of break?

Under Immigration guidelines, ISEs are permitted to work full time during a period of break. Forty (40) hours is considered to be full time in a work week, therefore ISEs are permitted to work up to but not exceed 40 hours in a work week during a period of break.

How is a period of break defined?

A period of break is defined as any week (Monday through Friday) in which there are no scheduled classes or final exams.

Note: A period of break is considered to be from Monday through Friday by definition based on the normal academic class schedule week. In contract, a work week is considered to be from Sunday through Saturday by definition as the work week includes weekends, therefore an ISE would be permitted to work up to 40 hours over the course of the work week (Sunday through Saturday) during a period of break.

What are the recognized periods of break at WVU?

A recognized period of break is generally at least one full week in duration and includes the Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks. Summer is also considered a period of break.

If summer is recognized as a period of break in which an ISE is permitted to work up to 40 hours during the work week, what are the rules if the ISE is enrolled at any point during the summer term?

Summer is a recognized period of break in which the ISE is permitted to work on a full-time basis regardless of credit hours enrolled. The ISE can be enrolled full-time, part-time or not at all during the summer term and still work up to 40 hours per work week.

How will periods of break that are less than one week be treated?

If the period of break (which excludes weekends as defined above) is limited to one or two days in a work week, then the week will not be considered a period of break for this process. In this situation, ISEs will be limited to working a 20 hour work week.

If the period of break is three or more days (excluding weekends as defined above), then the week will be considered a period of break for this process and the ISE will be permitted to work up to 40 hours per work week during that week.

How does WVU handle non-compliance with Immigration employment guidelines?

WVU has implemented a monthly compliance program maintained by ISSS and the Tax Services unit which provides ISEs with a three strikes warning process.

How does the monthly compliance process work?

Tax Services reviews the time cards on a monthly basis and tracks non-compliance.

Tax Services provides ISSS with a file of ISEs that are in non-compliance with the 20 hour work rule (40 hours during a period of break).

ISSS contacts and counsels each ISE who is in non-compliance.

Tax Services sends non-compliance notices to the ISE’s immediate supervisor and EBO. Each notice provides the ISE’s name, supervisor, work week of non-compliance and hours worked during that week. Each notice also documents if it is the first, second, or third non-compliance period for the ISE.

Upon receipt of the non-compliance notice, supervisors should counsel the ISE regarding the 20 hour work week guidelines including time cards, the definition of a work week and the definition of a period of break to ensure the ISE understands the rules.

All ISEs are now being advised of the Immigration guidelines as part of the on-boarding process for payroll when they process with Tax Services. They are required to sign a statement that they are aware of the Immigration guidelines and the 20 hour rule.

What are the “Three Strikes” and how do they impact the ISE?

Upon the First Notice of non-compliance the ISE will be contacted and counseled by ISSS. The ISE’s supervisor and EBO will be notified of non-compliance via a letter from the Tax Services unit.

Upon the Second Notice of non-compliance, the ISE’s employment will be immediately suspended from payroll for a period of not less than four pay cycles. During this suspension, the ISE will not be permitted to work. The ISE will be contacted and counseled by ISSS. The ISE’s supervisor and EBO will be notified of the non-compliance and suspension from employment by the Tax Services unit and should enforce the suspension.

Upon the Third Notice the ISE’s employment will be immediately terminated. The ISE’s supervisor and EBO will be notified of the non-compliance and termination from employment at WVU. The ISE will not be eligible for rehire.

Should all ISEs limit their work hours to 20 hours per work week when school is in session or only ISEs that are hourly employees?

All ISEs on a student VISA should limit their hours to 20 hours per week when school is in session whether they are an hourly (clocked) employee or a salaried employee such as a GRA, GTA, or GA.

What are the student VISAs that are impacted?

All ISEs on an “F” VISA or a “J” student VISA are impacted and required to follow the 20 hour work week Immigration guidelines.

Foreign Nationals on a “J” VISA under one of the following programs are not considered to be on a student VISA and therefore are not required to follow the 20 hour work week Immigration guidelines:

What is the process when the ISE has more than one assignment and/or supervisor?

Regardless of the number of work assignments that an ISE has the total number of hours that they can work is limited to 20 hours per work week when school is in session. EBOs and supervisors should work together with ISEs who have multiple assignments to ensure that the ISE does not exceed the total hours permitted.

What is the impact to ISEs as per Immigration guidelines for employment violations?

Immigration guidelines provide that any ISE who works as little as 15 minutes over the 20 hours permitted during a work week when school is in session is in non-compliance of the Immigration guidelines and subject to disciplinary action including termination of their SEVIS record for unauthorized employment. The three strikes warning process implemented by ISSS and Tax Services is focused on compliance of the University with the Immigration guidelines by providing the ISE with three warnings which impact their employment only without jeopardizing their SEVIS record for unauthorized employment. It is at the discretion of ISSS office, dependent upon the nature and severity of the employment violation, whether or not the University will pursue further disciplinary action such as termination of an ISE’s SEVIS record.

What is the impact to the student if their SEVIS record is terminated?

When a student’s SEVIS record is terminated for any reason including unauthorized employment, they are considered to be “out of status” and must reapply for their VISA within 5 months. If they either fail to reapply or their request is denied then they must return home. A proven incident of unauthorized employment can lead to the individual being found to be unlawfully present in the United States which can lead to a ban of up to 10 years from returning to the US.

What is the impact to the University for failure to comply with the Immigration guidelines?

Failure by the University to comply with the Immigration guidelines can jeopardize our international programs for all Foreign National students in that we can lose our Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification. If WVU would lose this certification we would not be allowed to offer programs of study to any Foreign National student.

What is the process if the ISE, Supervisor or EBO disagrees with non-compliance notice?

If the ISE disagrees with the non-compliance notice they should be directed to contact ISSS.

If the supervisor disagrees with the non-compliance notice they should contact their (1) EBO first and then (2) ISSS.

If the EBO disagrees with the non-compliance notice they should contact ISSS.

ISSS can be contacted at (304) 293-3519 or at isss-students@mail.wvu.edu.

If there is an error on the ISE’s time card what should I do?

All time card errors should first be processed through the EBO by following the chain of command. (1) ISE reports error to their immediate supervisor; (2) Supervisor reports error to their EBO.

If the EBO is unable to correct the error, the EBO should contact Tax Services at (304) 293-3379 extension 3 or at tax@mail.wvu.edu.

Note: Tax Services should be contacted only if there is an error or issue with the timecard. Please direct all other concerns by the ISE to ISSS office. Supervisors should direct concerns to their EBO office and then ISSS.