F1 students can only work off-campus due to economic hardship. This requires an application to USCIS.
Few applications for economic hardship get approved.
- You must prove that the change in your financial situation was beyond your control and occurred after you arrived on campus.
- You must explain that on-campus work options are insufficient.
- You must have maintained valid F1 status for at least one academic year before you can apply for economic hardship.
How to apply for economic hardship work authorization
1. Submit the required forms and documents to the International Center:
- Completed USCIS Form I-765
- Two passport-sized photos with your name, I-94 and SEVIS numbers written on the back of each photo with soft felt-tip pen
- Money order for the I-765 fee made out to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
- Two sets of copies of each of these: your passport ID page, I-94 card front and back, F1 visa stamp, and all I-20s issued to you, including I-20s from U.S. institutions you may have attended before coming to NLC
- Letter from you explaining your economic hardship and requesting work authorization
- Copies of financial statements or other financial documents that indicate unexpected financial problems. For example, you may provide bank statements showing a sudden loss of finances.
- Any other documentation that may support your case or prove financial hardship. This might include letters from home, news articles, or anything else that supports your case.
2. If your application is complete, the International Center will provide you with instructions for mailing your application to USCIS.
3. It takes about three months for USCIS to process economic hardship applications. Our office will notify you of the decision as soon as we know it. Approval is not guaranteed. Applications can be denied if they are incomplete or the student failed to sufficiently prove an economic hardship beyond the student’s control.
4. If USCIS approves the work authorization, an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) will be issued. You can only work for the specified dates on the EAD card. You can work at any job anywhere, whether related to your degree program or not. Authorization is granted for a maximum of one year.
If the government approves your request, there are rules to be followed. You are still expected to enroll in classes at NLC, and during class sessions you can only work up to 20 hours per week. You can work full time during summer and school breaks.
If you lose your F1 status, work authorization is immediately terminated.