Off-Campus Employment Regulations Based on Economic Hardship for Students in F-1 Status

Current immigration regulations governing off-campus employment based on economic hardship took effect Jan. 1, 2003. These regulations apply to all students in F-1 status.

To be eligible, the student must:

  • be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (two semesters)
  • be in good academic standing and registered for a full-time course load
  • provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control
  • demonstrate that on-campus employment is either unavailable or insufficient to meet needs

The regulations require that students make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying for employment authorization based on economic hardship.

The regulations offer examples of unforeseen circumstances which may cause economic hardship, including the loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of a student's sponsor, medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session, full-time during holidays or vacation periods. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status. Students may work for an employer at any job anywhere in the United States. A job offer is NOT required in advance of obtaining employment authorization. Employment may not commence until the student receives the work authorization (EAD) card from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Students seeking employment authorization based on economic hardship need to apply by mail to the USCIS Vermont Service Center to obtain an EAD, which will be valid for one-year intervals. There is an application fee for the EAD. Students interested in this type of work authorization MUST schedule an appointment to meet with Karen Keefe-Guzikowski, ISSS assistant director.

The following items must be submitted to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to process an application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship:

  • cover letter from student explaining unforeseen circumstances causing economic hardship
  • statement of assets, income, and expenses and corresponding financial documentation.

Once the application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship is complete, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will provide you with an updated SEVIS I-20 with off-campus work authorization certification on page 3. The SEVIS I-20, and the written evidence of unforeseen circumstances will be returned to the student along with a supporting letter from the ISSS.

Items which must be submitted to the USCIS Vermont Service Center include the written evidence of unforeseen circumstances and a supporting letter from the student, Form I-765, photocopies of Form I-20 and I-94, two photographs, fee and photocopy of identity pages from passport. Students will be given a check sheet and complete mailing information from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

It can take up to 12 weeks for the EAD card to be processed by the USCIS Vermont Service Center. Students are urged to allow sufficient processing time for this procedure by submitting their paperwork early. In person EAD processing at the district USCIS office in Latham, New York, or at any other USCIS district office in the United States, is not available.

Employment may not commence until the student obtains the EAD.

Last Updated: 8/21/16