By Alex Orlando
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – International students face many hardships and challenges as they attempt to complete their academic programs and transfer on to four-year schools. One condition placed on them by immigration law is the fact that they have extremely limited opportunities to work and earn money to support themselves. This information is disclosed to the student in the International Student Application.
“Restrictions placed on international students on almost any type of student employment are very severe, and most students have preconceived notions of working and going to school before they even leave their home countries,” said Jesse Orlando, director of ESL/international student services at Camden County College.
When faced with the reality that on-campus employment (the only work opportunity afforded them by immigration law) is so scarce at CCC, students often feel they have no choice but to work under-the-table in jobs that Americans won’t do, such as driving a cab, delivering pizza, working in restaurants and cleaning houses. By engaging in unlawful employment, these students place themselves and their academic careers in jeopardy.
What makes matters worse is that their parents fully expect students to work and support themselves, and in many cases, to send money home to help them. Therefore, “the internal and external pressure on international students increases their level of anxiety and ultimately their ability to focus on their stated objective: to improve their English language skills and earn a degree,” Orlando said.
The restrictions placed on international students do not only affect the students and their families, but it effectively increases the level of service needed to support them at school. Since Social Security cards are now only issued to non-immigrants who are authorized for employment, the International Office of Camden County College must help the student do workarounds for any benefit that requires a Social Security number. For example, an SS card is one requirement for being issued a driver’s license. Since most international students cannot work, the International Office must give the student letters verifying attendance and requesting an official letter of ineligibility from Social Security that will satisfy that particular Motor Vehicle Services requirement.
Unless the regulations that affect employment opportunities for international students change, the cycle of unlawful employment for international students will continue to be an issue for the 600 students at CCC and students elsewhere.