Off Campus Employment (Economic Hardship)

Off campus employment may be allowed for F-1 students only in cases of severe economic hardship or in emergent circumstances. Off campus employment may be granted – on a case-by-case basis – to an F-1 student who can prove that new, unexpected circumstances have created severe economic hardship, such as the following:

  • Loss of financial aid due to no fault of student

  • Large increase in tuition or living costs

  • Unexpected changes in financial condition of student’s sources of financial support

  • Unexpectedly large medical bills

An F-1 student must first receive a recommendation from the Designated School Official (DSO) in the Center for Global Health (CGH) for off campus employment due to economic hardship. Once the student has the Form I-20 recommending off campus employment, the student must then apply for employment authorization through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If USCIS approves the application, the student will receive an employment authorization document (EAD card).

The student is only eligible to work once he/she receives the EAD card from USCIS authorizing off campus employment. USCIS authorization is typically granted in one-year intervals. Students can work part-time while school is in session and full-time during official university holidays.


You are eligible to apply for off-campus employment for economic hardship if the following apply to you:

  • You have been enrolled for at least one academic year
  • You are in good academic standing
  • You are enrolled in a full course of study
  • The employment will not interfere with your academic program

You are able to demonstrate and provide documentation detailing your unforeseen economic circumstances and indicating that off-campus employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to these unforeseen circumstances

Required Documents

You will be required to submit the following documents to CGH with the Off-Campus Employment – Economic Hardship request in Terra Dotta:

  1. Copy of biographic page from valid passport
  2. Personal statement that includes the following:
    1. Detailed description of the unforeseen economic circumstances
    2. Reason that off campus employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship
    3. Reason that on-campus employment is unavailable or is not sufficient to meet the needs that have arisen from the unforeseen circumstances
  3. Supporting documentation regarding your unforeseen economic circumstances (example: letter from a financial institution)
  4. Letter of standing (on official letterhead) from your academic advisor or college administrator indicating the following:
    1. You are a student in good academic standing
    2. You are pursuing a full course of study
    3. The off-campus employment is permitted by your degree program and will not interfere with your studies

Please note that CGH may request additional documentation from you based on your individual circumstances, if additional information or evidence is needed.

You will also be required to submit certain documentation to USCIS along with the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. The Learning Content within the Off-Campus Employment request in Terra Dotta will provide further guidance on how to determine the USCIS supporting document requirements for your request.

Application Process

Part 1: Submit Off-Campus Employment Request to Center for Global Health

Before you can apply for employment authorization from USCIS, you must have a Form I-20 recommending off-campus employment due to economic hardship. To request this Form I-20, you must complete and submit the Off-Campus Employment – Economic Hardship request through your Terra Dotta portal. You will be required to submit the above-indicated supporting documents in the request in Terra Dotta. You will also be required to read content and complete questionnaires related to this request.

Your request will typically be processed by CGH within 7-10 business days from the date you submit the request in Terra Dotta. If your request is approved, an updated Form I-20 will be issued for you with the recommendation for off-campus employment authorizaztion due to economic hardship. This Form I-20 will be mailed to you at your home address.

We recommend that you submit the request in Terra Dotta as early as possible. Again, you will not be able to submit the I-765 employment authorization application to USCIS until you receive the Form I-20 from CGH with the off-campus employment recommendation. Since the USCIS adjudication of I-765 employment authorization applications for F-1 students can take 3-4 months, you should take this timeline into consideration when completing the Off-Campus Employment – Economic Hardship request in Terra Dotta. In other words, you should submit this request in Terra Dotta several months in advance of your desired employment start date.

Part 2: Submit I-765 Application to USCIS

Once you receive the Form I-20 recommending off-campus employment, you can proceed with the USCIS I-765 application. You are required to complete USCIS Form I-765 and gather supporting documentation to submit with the I-765 form. You are also required to pay the USCIS I-765 application fee.

The USCIS I-765 website is your primary source of information and instructions regarding the I-765 application process. You are required to review all information on this site regarding the I-765 form, fees and application submission procedures. You must read the Instructions for Form I-765 PDF available on the USCIS website. In addition to the I-765 website, you must also review the USCIS filing fees website.

IMPORTANT: If you are applying for employment authorization due to economic hardship, you will use the code (c)(3)(iii) in the Eligibility Category field on the Form I-765.

Pay special attention to the supporting documents required with your type of application. In addition to the actual Form I-765, you are required to submit several supporting documents along with the application to provide evidence of your request. Refer to the Instructions for Form I-765 document and your specific eligibility category (F-1 Student Seeking Off-Campus Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship (c)(3)(iii)) for more details.

Because USCIS form editions, filing fees and application submission addresses frequently change, we strongly encourage you to review the USCIS I-765 website and the USCIS fee calculator on the day that you are submitting your application to be certain you are using the correct form edition and submitting the correct fee.

F-1 students requesting off-campus employment due to economic hardship must submit the I-765 (with supporting documents and filing fee) to USCIS by mail or courier service. The online submission option is currently not available to F-1 students requesting off-campus employment authorization for economic hardship. Be sure that you are using the correct address (based on the service you are using to submit the application) and that you select a trackable mailing or shipping service so that you can get proof of delivery of your application.

Currently, there is no way to request expedited service for USCIS I-765 employment authorization applications. In the past, USCIS has processed I-765 for F-1 student applicants in approximately 3 to 4 months. However, USCIS processing times are subject to change at any time. We cannot guarantee any processing times for your application. We also cannot guarantee that USCIS will approve your application altogether.

If USCIS approves your I-765 application, you will receive an employment authorization document (EAD card). Once you receive your EAD card, you must upload a copy through the processed Off Campus Employment – Economic Hardship record within your Terra Dotta portal.

During Approved Off-Campus Employment

You cannot begin your employment until you have received the EAD card from USCIS and the ‘valid from’ date on the card has been reached.

While school is in session, you can work part-time (20 hours per week). During official school holidays, you can work full-time (40 hours per week).

The job does not have to be related to your field of study for off-campus employment pursuant to economic hardship. In addition, you are not required to report your employment details to the Center for Global Health.

USCIS will typically only grant employment authorization for off-campus employment due to economic hardship in one-year intervals. When the end date on your EAD card has passed, you are no longer authorized for off-campus employment.