Off-Campus Employment for F1 Students

October 6th, 2006 by Keith Clausen

Following our post explaining the rules for F1 students working on-campus, the next four posts will address the four general categories of off-campus employment opportunities for F1 students. As a general rule, off-campus employment is regulated more strictly, and employment requires prior authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Off-Campus Employment. International students in F-1 status have several off-campus employment options available to them, provided they are maintaining lawful student status and are doing well academically.

The four general categories of off-campus employment are:

Severe Economic Hardship
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Curriculur Optional Training (CPT)
Recognized International Institution

Severe Economic Hardship

Any F1 student suffering “severe economic hardship” as defined by USCIS is eligible to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full-time during breaks.

To be eligible, a student must:

* be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
* be in good academic standing
* provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control
* show that on-campus employment is neither available nor sufficient
* make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying

The rule gives examples of the types of things that could be considered “severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.” These circumstances may include:

• 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 rate
• inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
• unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support
• medical bills
• or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

You must apply for an “employment authorization document” (EAD) with the help and guidance of your International Student Office — you do not need a job offer before you apply for the EAD. But several forms and documents are required, together with fees and photos, etc., and processing can take up to 12 weeks or longer — and you cannot start work until you receive the EAD. The designated school official (DSO) at your school’s International Student Office — typically an international student advisor — must certify to USCIS that you meet all the requirements.

Once you receive the EAD, you may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain valid F1 status.

To see the text of the entire rules governing “severe economic hardship” off-campus employment by F1 students, click here and scroll down to paragraph (9)(ii)(C).

Links to posts in our international student employment rules series:

Canada Off-Campus Employment for International Students
On-Campus Employment in the US for F1 Students

Next Posts:

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Recognized International Institution

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

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