Center for International Programs

International Student Services

F-1 Economic Need Work Permission

Immigration regulations allow an F-1 student to apply for off-campus work permission if this individual has financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control.


Students are eligible to apply for economic hardship work permission if they can demonstrate: (1) they are in good academic standing and are registered for a full course of study; (2) employment is necessary to avoid economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control; (3) employment opportunities on-campus are either unavailable or insufficient to meet their needs; and (4) they have been in valid F-1 status at Saint Joseph's University for at least one academic year (two semesters).


The regulations offer examples of unforeseen circumstances which may cause economic hardship, including the loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rates, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of a student's sponsor, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.


If granted, employment is limited to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session, full-time during holidays or vacation periods. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status. Students may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States. A job offer is not required in advance of obtaining employment authorization. Employment may NOT commence until the student receives the work authorization (EAD) card from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Students seeking employment authorization based on economic hardship will need to apply by mail to the USCIS Vermont Service Center to obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), which will be valid for one-year intervals.

The following items must be submitted to the Center for International Programs to process an application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship:

  • cover letter from student explaining unforeseen circumstances causing economic hardship
  • statement of assets, income, and expenses and corresponding financial documentation

Once the application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship is complete, the Center for International Programs will provide you with an updated SEVIS I-20 with off-campus work authorization certification on page 3.

Items which must be submitted to the USCIS Vermont Service Center include the written evidence of unforeseen circumstances and supporting letter from student, Form I-765, photocopies of Form I-20 and I-94, 2 photographs, fee and photocopy of identity pages from passport. Detailed application instructions including the current fee and complete mailing information will be given to you from a CIP advisor.

It can take up to twelve weeks for the EAD card to be processed by the USCIS Vermont Service Center. Therefore, students are urged to allow sufficient processing time for this procedure by submitting their paperwork early. In person EAD processing at the district USCIS office in Philadelphia or at any other USCIS district office in the United States, is not available.

Employment may not begin until the student obtains the EAD.