F-1 Student Off-Campus Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship

If you are a University of Chicago F-1 international student, these instructions will tell you how to apply for off-campus employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by circumstances that were unforeseen and beyond your control. The application procedure involves a recommendation from the Office of International Affairs, and authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Note: You must apply to USCIS by mail and the process will probably take three to four months.

General Guideline

  • For this type of work permission, only your financial need is a factor in the application. The value to you of the work experience does not count, nor does the employer's need for someone with your abilities.
  • You may be employed up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during breaks and your annual vacation quarter. This limitation is strict, and if your need appears too great to be met by employment for the number of hours you can work, USCIS will probably not grant you this type of work permission.
  • To apply to USCIS for this type of employment authorization, you must be a full-time student in good academic standing at the University of Chicago, and you must have held valid F-1 student status for at least one full academic year, i.e., three academic quarters.
  • Your employment may not interfere with you carrying a full course of study.
  • You may apply for this type of employment authorization without a job offer. Even if you have a job offer, no letter from your employer is required for the application.
  • USCIS authorizes this type of employment for one year at a time.
  • You may begin work only when you have received Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, known as the EAD, from USCIS. The EAD is a small card with your photograph and the beginning and ending dates of your employment authorization.
  • Use of this type of work authorization does not affect your eligibility, later on, for F-1 OPT or CPT permission based on your program of study.

Apply for Severe Economic Hardship