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Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of International Services

F-1 Visa Employment > Other F-1 Off-Campus Employment Options

Other F-1 Off-Campus Employment Options

In addition to on-campus employment and practical training (CPT and OPT), F-1 students have two other kinds of employment options. These options are rarely used because they have special conditions and requirements.  If you are interested in learning more about these options, speak to an OIS advisor.
  • Severe Economic Hardship Employment
  • Internship with an International Organization

"Severe Economic Hardship" Employment

F-1 students may apply for employment authorization based on "severe economic hardship" caused by unforeseen financial difficulties beyond the student's control. Typical examples of unforeseen financial difficulties include the unexpected loss of financial aid or support from the student's family or personal sponsor, a substantial fluctuation in the value of the student's home country currency, an inordinate increase in tuition and/or living costs, and unexpected bills due to a medical or dental emergency.

To qualify for this type of employment authorization, you:

  1. Must document that your need is genuinely unforeseen or unexpected.
  2. Must make a good faith effort to locate on-campus employment. The authorization is given only if on-campus employment is unavailable or insufficient to meet your unforeseen financial need.
  3. Must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year

If you wish to apply for this type of employment authorization, you must speak to an OIS advisor first and present documentation establishing the circumstances of your economic hardship. Required documentation includes:

  • A budget listing expected tuition, fees, and living costs for the upcoming year, as well as confirmed and anticipated financial resources. Note that the amount of need cannot be so significant that you cannot continue your studies - even if you are granted severe economic hardship employment, you must be able to continue full-time studies.
  • A detailed, descriptive statement explaining the reasons for your economic hardship
  • A letter from your financial sponsor or other relevant documentation verifying the information provided in your statement

The OIS will review your materials and determine your eligibility for severe economic hardship employment. If the OIS determines that you meet the requirements for this type of employment, you will receive a new I-20 with a recommendation for employment based on severe economic hardship. You will then need to apply to the USCIS (detailed instructions will be provided after the OIS reviews your application) for an Employment Authorization (EAD) card. 

Note that authorization from the USCIS for this type of employment is not guaranteed: the USCIS scrutinizes these applications and it may take them several months to process your request.

If you are granted authorization, you can work on a part-time basis (a maximum of 20 hours per week) during the fall and spring semesters, and full-time during summer and school vacations, including any on-campus employment. Employment does not need to be related to your field of study. Authorization for employment under the Severe Economic Hardship Provision is given in one-year intervals. You must be able to continue full-time studies while on severe economic hardship employment.  

International Organization Employment

If you are offered employment, such as a paid internship, by a recognized international organization (as specified by the International Organization Immunities Act), you may be eligible to apply for authorization to accept this employment. In order to qualify, you must have an offer of employment from such an organization. Once you have an offer, you are required to apply to the USCIS to get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You must have an EAD from the USCIS before you can begin working.

If you receive an offer for an internship or employment from an international organization, please speak to the OIS for further details regarding application procedures. Please note that the application process can take 2 months or longer. You should also consult with your international organization employer to determine if they have special employment restrictions, requirements, and procedures.

You are required to maintained full-time registration while engaged in this type of employment, although registration during the summer vacation period is not required.

Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: