A student in F-1 status experiencing extreme financial difficulties which were unforeseen when beginning the academic program may be able to apply for off-campus work permission from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With DHS permission, it is possible to work up to twenty hours a week during the academic year and full-time during the summer and vacation periods.
To apply, you must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year and must be a degree candidate in good academic standing. In your application, you must establish and document the fact that unforeseen changes that severely affect your financial resources have occurred.
It is very important that you carefully consider any other options available to you, such as on-campus employment or loans. The DHS requires that you make a good faith attempt to obtain on-campus employment. Information is available on this site and at the International Students and Scholars Office regarding on-campus employment. You should also inquire at the ISSO about practical training. For information on loans, see your financial aid office.
You should be aware that your application for work permission may have an impact on your eligibility to obtain travel documents as these documents normally require that you show sufficient funds to cover your expenses. Before making plans to leave the country, be sure you discuss your situation with an ISSO advisor. Also, if you travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending, DHS will consider that you have abandoned your request for off-campus work permission and you will be required to reapply.
Procedure: The ISSO cannot authorize work permission - only the DHS can do so. The DHS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to authorize your work permission. You cannot begin employment until you receive this card. Your first step in obtaining an EAD is to qualify for a certification from the ISSO recommending you for work permission.
Step 1: Submit to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) the documentation listed below:
The International Students and Scholars Office will:
Step 2: You must mail your application for the DHS Service Center having jurisdiction over your place of residence. Be sure to include the following documents:
You should send your application by certified mail, return receipt request or by a courier service so that you have a proof of delivery. All applications must either be filed at the USCIS Dallas or USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facilities. Students who list a mailing address on the I-765 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania, must send the application to:
Keep copies of all documents sent with your application
The DHS will send you a Form I-797 Notice of Receipt with the case number assigned to your application. Processing time for your EAD issuance will vary. If your application is approved, the DHS will mail the card directly to you.
Once you receive the EAD you may work at any off-campus job up to twenty hours a week during the academic year and full-time during vacation periods. You may not assume that once DHS grants work permission based on unforseen economic hardship that they will approve it for subsequent years. The DHS grants this type of work authorization in one-year increments. In addition, authorization ends when the need for employment ceases, when you cease to be in F-1 status, or when you transfer from one school to another.
The USCIS can take from 6 to 12 weeks to process an EAD application. After you receive the "Notice of Action" with the 13-digit receipt number, you can check the status of your pending application online on the USCIS webpage. If your application has been pending for more than 90 days from the date of receipt on the "Notice of Action" form, contact the ISSO.
F-1 Financial Information
Please indicate your expenses and funding sources for the current academic year of nine months plus the three month vacation break. Remember to attach a written statement explaining your financial circumstances and copies of documents for any unusual expenses you have incurred.
Last Reviewed: 24 May 2011 Last modified: 24 May 2011