How to apply for an off-campus EAD (F1 students)

Updated on: 2020-03-27 - 5 mins read

Official USCIS Link: USCIS Special Situation

If you’re an eligible F-1 student with severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, then you can apply for “Severe Economic Hardship Employment”. The circumstances may include a loss of financial aid or on-campus employment, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and /or living costs, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Eligibility criteria:

  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control

Documentation Needed:

  • A completed and signed Severe Economic Hardship Request Form
  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc
  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • Copy of your unofficial transcript available

How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment:

  • Schedule an appointment with your university’s International Student Centre Advisor, and bring the documents listed in Documentation Needed to Apply to your appointment
  • Your documents will be reviewed
  • The university’s International Student Centre Advisor will send your request to SEVIS electronically, and generate a new SEVIS I-20. The recommendation will be written on page 2 of the new I-20
  • You will be notified when your new I-20 is available
  • Pick up your new I-20
  • Sign your name on the I-20 immediately
  • Send your request to USCIS. Refer to Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Request Application to USCIS below

Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Application to USCIS:

Once you have requested a Severe Economic Hardship Employment recommendation and received your new I-20 from the university’s International Student Centre Advisor, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

  • Copy of the new I-20 with employment recommendation
  • Copies of your previous I-20(s)
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
  • Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • Form I-765 and the base fee
  • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in colour with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Put photos in an envelope. You should attach the fee and the photo envelope on top of the entire application (on the upper left-hand corner). Please do not staple the fee and the photos
  • The personal statement along with any other supporting documents, if available

Mailing to USCIS:

Send your complete request to USCIS at the following location (or location provided by your university’s International Student Centre Advisor):

USCIS Service Center
P.O. Box 87765
Lincoln, NE 68501-7765

NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service is the only service that delivers to a P.O. Box address. You may want to send your application via express (next day) mail.

Application Processing Time:

Form I-797C, Notice of Action from the USCIS will arrive in about 2-4 weeks. Your permission to begin employment is not finalized until you have received an “Employment Authorization Document” EAD from the USCIS. After you send all the documents to the USCIS, you will receive your EAD in about 2-4 weeks. The EAD will your photograph and authorized dates from when you can start your employment.

Similarly, if you’re an intern in one of the companies in the US that falls within the International Organization Immunities Act, as defined in 22 U.S.C. § 288 59 Stat. 669, the you can add an off-campus employment if you’re facing economic hardships.

Follow the steps below:

1. Go to the official website of the homeland security:

Link: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-off-campus-employment-and-international-organization-internship

2. Go to the student information page:

3. Click Off-Campus Employment under the Employment/Training section:

4. Click New Off-Campus Employment:

5. Enter the following information in the Add Off-Campus Employment fields:

  • Employment Start Date: Required field
  • Employment End Date: Required field
  • Off-Campus Employment Type: Click drop-down arrow to select Economic Hardship, International Organization [Internship], or Special Student Relief [due to emergent circumstances]
  • Recommendation: Optional field. Text prints on the Form I-20, Page 2
  • Student Remarks: Optional field. Text prints on the Form I-20, Page 2

6. Click Add Employment:

7. Click either:

  • Return to Employment List: Returns the user to the Off-Campus Employment page without printing the Form I-20
  • Print I-20: Prints the Form I-20 with the DSO’s employment recommendation

Note: The Student must send a copy of the form I-20, along with the form I-765, to USCIS

After you send all the documents to the USCIS, you will receive your EAD in about 2-4 weeks. The EAD will your photograph and authorized dates from when you can start your employment

Drawbacks:

  • There are downsides for these kind of employment. Sometimes, it’ll take months for the USCIS to process your application and give you the EAD. You might not be able to meet your financial needs due to the waiting time
  • Another drawback is the application fee. While you’re trying to get new employment opportunities to meet your needs, you may not have the resources to apply for this as the application fee is quite high

Benefits:

  • After you receive your EAD, your employment chances will be high as you can take up a job anywhere in the US and gain more income.
  • Hardship employment does not affect your future eligibility for employment authorizations like Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) meaning you can continue to work and receive income after the end of your hardship employment.
  • With the Hardship employment you are allowed to work for 20 hours per week during school and full time that is 40 hours per week during vacations and holidays. Your employment will be authorized for one year, but you can renew them until you finish your studies.