F-1 students may be authorized to work off-campus, but only after having been in F-1 status for one academic year, and only after meeting certain criteria. Students who are experiencing unforeseen economic hardship and students who have a job offer from an international organization may apply for work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.
Off-Campus Employment for F-1 Students
Severe Economic Hardship
Severe economic hardship employment was established to provide students who have experienced a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship after obtaining F-1 status with an opportunity to obtain employment authorization. Just what constitutes a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship is debatable. It is up to the Designated School Official (DSO) to initially determine the legitimacy of the request.Typically, a DSO will consider factors including:
- Loss of on-campus employment
- Unexpected loss of a scholarship
- Serious currency devaluation (when the funds come from abroad)
- Excessive tuition and fee increases
- Medical bills
- Burglary or robbery (with a police report)
- Substantial increases in living costs
- Disruption of a sponsor’s income
- Death of a sponsor
If determined by the DSO to be a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship, the DSO recommends to the DHS through a SEVIS endorsement that the student be granted employment authorization by attaching evidence of the hardship being claimed. If granted, the employment authorization is valid for part-time employment (20 hours a week or less while school is in session) and full time during scheduled breaks.
Employment with an International Organization
A special situation exists for F-1 students who have been offered employment under the sponsorship of an international organization, as defined by the International Organization Immunities Act. A student seeking permission to work for such an organization makes application to the DHS Service Center having jurisdiction over his or her residence by submitting the following:
- A written certification from the organization that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship.
- A Form I-20 ID endorsed for employment in SEVIS by the DSO within the last 30 days.
- A completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the fee required.