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Alternative Employment Options: Severe Economic Hardship & International Organizations

F-1 students may be eligible for two additional employment options, Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization or International Organization employment authorization.

Click each of the below sections to access and review pertinent information.

Severe Economic Hardship

If you are suffering severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you may be eligible to apply to USCIS for Severe Economic Hardship authorization to work off-campus.

  • Loss of financial support or on-campus employment
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your financial sponsors, such as the loss of a family business
  • Excessive medical bills
  • You must have been in F-1 status for one academic year
  • You must be in good academic standing
  • You must be able to document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your financial needs
  • You must be able to document the nature of your financial problems, as well as be able to provide evidence
  • The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time
  • The authorization allows you to work for any employment part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during your regular full-time semesters (semester dates can be verified on Registration and Records Academic Calendars webpage and include finals week).
    • Note: your total hours of employment between all jobs you have cannot exceed 20 hours per week
    • It also allows you to work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during vacation and breaks
  • The authorization does not affect your eligibility for OPT
  • The authorization is automatically terminated if you complete your program, fail to maintain your status, or transfer to another school
  • Discuss your economic hardship with your DSO/PDSO and bring any evidence of the hardship. The DSO/PDSO will then recommend economic hardship employment on your I-20 as necessary.
  • Gather the required materials:
    • Completed Form I-765
      • Write “(c)(3)(iii)” in item 16
    • Appropriate I-765 filing fee paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
    • Copy of your signed I-20 showing STEM OPT Extension recommendation with your DSO/PDSO’s recommendation for economic hardship employment
    • Two identical passport style photographs
    • Copy of your current I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    • A letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient; include supporting evidence
    • Copy of your Passport
    • Copy of your F-1 Visa
    • Copies of any previously issued EAD cards and corresponding I-20s (if applicable)
  • Schedule a meeting with your DSO/PDSO to review your Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization application prior to submission
  • Make a copy of your new I-20 and application materials
  • Review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct filing location
  • Mail your application
  • Application processing times vary between two to four months. Do not begin working until you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • If approved, please provide a copy of the approval and EAD card to your DSO/PDSO

International Organizations

As an F-1 student, you may work for a qualified international organization, as defined by the International Organization Immunities Act of December 29, 1945. If you have an offer from an employer on the List of International Organizations you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Contact DSO/PDSO to discuss your situation before you complete the required documentation. Your DSO/PDSO will determine your eligibility and assist you in completing and submitting the application to USCIS.

Required documentation includes:

  • The employment authorization is granted by USCIS for a maximum of one year
  • The authorization allows you to work for any employment part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (20 hours or more per week), but you must maintain a full-course of study in F-1 status as required by Elmhurst during your employment
  • The authorization does not affect your eligibility for OPT
  • The authorization is automatically terminated if you fail to maintain your status or transfer to another school
  • Discuss your offer with your DSO/PDSO and bring any evidence that shows the offer is from a qualified international organization. The DSO/PDSO will then recommend employment with an international organization on your I-20.
  • Gather the required materials:
    • Form I-765
      • Write “(c)(3)(ii)” in item 16
    • Appropriate I-765 filing fee paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
    • Copy of your signed I-20 showing your DSO/PDSO’s recommendation for employment with an international organization
    • Two identical passport style photographs
    • Copy of your current I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    • Written certification from the international organization that your employment is within the scope of their sponsorship
    • Photocopy of passport identification page
    • Photocopy of visa page
    • Copies of any previously issued EAD cards and corresponding I-20s (if applicable)
  • Schedule a meeting with your DSO/PDSO to review your Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization application prior to submission
  • Make a copy of your new I-20 and application materials
  • Review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct filing location
  • Mail your application
  • Application processing times vary between two to four months. Do not begin working until you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • If approved, please provide a copy of the approval and EAD card to your DSO/PDSO

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