Overview

Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining F-1 Student Status at Columbia

Important Information for Students Fully Funded
by Columbia University


Transfer of F-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Message for Canadian Students

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance

Dependents

Student Tax Information

Maintaining F-1 Status

I-20 Recertification

Academic Certification for Travel

F-1 Travel Information

Govt Q & A for F-1 Travel

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

F-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

F-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program

F-1 Reinstatement

F-1 Work Opportunities

F-1 Practical Training (PT) Overview

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Optional PT Before Degree Completion

F-1 Optional PT After Degree Completion

STEM 17-month OPT extension

F-1 Internship with an International Organization

F-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

F-1 Last Term Authorization

Inviting Relatives/Friends to Visit You

Address Change Form


Applying for a Social Security Number

OFF-CAMPUS WORK BASED ON FINANCIAL NEED FOR STUDENTS IN F-1 STATUS

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:

  1. Completed financial worksheet (see below)
  2. A letter explaining:
    a) the unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances that arose since your entry into the United States. It is also very important that you explain why your parent, relative, organization, or other sponsor listed on your I-20 is unable to furnish the additional funds needed to cover your expenses. Please be specific.
    b) how you have tried to obtain work through all other available work options. DHS requires that you make a good faith effort to obtain work on campus.
  3. Documentation of the unforeseen changes explained above (e.g., medical bills, letter revoking scholarship, drastic drop in your currency's exchange rate, etc.)

The International Students and Scholars Office will:

  1. Review your application for eligibility
  2. If you are eligible, update your SEVIS record with a recommendation for employment
  3. Provide you with the Form I-765 application for the EAD

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:

  1. Complete the fillable I-765 Form in PDF format online and print it. Use a laser printer only. Sign the print out, making sure not to write outside the allotted area. If you choose not to type, please make sure you use BLUE ink. USCIS has some helpful form completion and filing tips on their website at http://www.uscis.gov/lockboxtips.
    Question 16 on the I-765 asks for eligibility categories. Enter (c)(3)(iii).
  2. Required $380 fee - a bank check or money order made payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A personal check is acceptable only if your name and address are preprinted on the front. The DHS does not accept cash.
  3. Two recent photos The USCIS requires that the photos meet the specifications for the full frontal/passport type of photos and not be more than 30 days old when the applications is filed. For more information on photo standards, visit the Department of State website.
  4. Letter of explanation and documentation of your financial circumstances
  5. Photocopies of both sides of the current I-20 and all previously issued I-20s
  6. Photocopies of the identification pages of your passport and your I-94 (Do not send your passport or your original I-94 card)

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:

U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

Courier service (FedEx, UPS)

USCIS USCIS
PO Box 660867 Attn: AOS
Dallas, TX 75266 2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business
  Suite 400
  Lewisville, TX 75067

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.

 CURRENT ACADEMIC YEAR:

EXPENSES 

  Type of Expense

 Yourself (F-1)

 Your F-2 dependents
(if any)

 
 Tuition & Fees    
 Rent    
 Insurance    
 Utilities (gas, electric, phone)    
 Child Care    
 Food    
 Clothing    
 Books & Supplies    
 Travel    
 Cultural/Recreational    
 Medical/Dental    
 Transportation    
 Automobile    
 Laundry/Cleaning, Personal    
 Other (Please specify):    
 
 Expense Totals    
 

 FUNDING/MEANS OF SUPPORT

 
 Student's Personal Funds  
 Family Funds from Abroad  
 University Funding  
 Employment, if applicable  
 Other Sources (Please specify):  
 
 Funding Totals  
Minus Combined Expense Totals  
 
 Difference  

Last Reviewed: 24 May 2011 Last modified: 24 May 2011
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office