Off-Campus Employment

Severe Economic Hardship

If you, as a student, are in an unforeseen severe economic hardship situation, then you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus for 20 hours per week while school is in session. You must prove that unforeseen economic circumstances have caused a need for employment that cannot be met through on-campus work opportunities.

If you are also working on-campus, you may only work 20 hours total between the two jobs. If you have authorization, you may work full-time during official school breaks.

Work positions, under this work authorization category, are not required to be related to your field of study.

  • Definition
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Limitations
  • Process
  • Documents Required for Economic Hardship
  • Job Opportunities
  • U.S. Taxes

Definition

Regulations regarding off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship may be found under 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A), (C), (D), (F).

  • You must prove that unforeseen economic circumstances have caused a need for employment that cannot be met through on-campus work opportunities. If off-campus employment is approved, work authorization will end when you complete your program or transfer to another school.
  • Severe economic hardship is defined as “circumstances which may include 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 rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.” 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C).

Eligibility Requirements

You must be able to prove that off-campus employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control. The economic hardship must have occurred after you obtained J-1 status. You are not required to have a job offer when applying for this type of work authorization.

You must meet the following requirements to be eligible to apply:

  • You must be in valid J-1 status for at least one full academic year (fall and spring semesters).
  • You must be in good academic standing and carry a full course of study.
  • You must demonstrate that employment will not interfere with your full course of study.
  • You must demonstrate that the off-campus employment is necessary to assist you in alleviating your severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances. You must also document that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen financial circumstances.

Limitations

  • All J-1 employment, whether on or off campus, cannot be more than 20 hours a week during an academic semester (fall/spring). Employment can exceed 20 hours a week during official school breaks and the student’s annual vacation.
  • The J-1 student must continue to be enrolled full-time during the entire duration of the employment authorization during an academic semester (fall/spring).
  • The J-1 students may begin employment only after his/her International Student Advisor has approved the specific employment from the student's offer letter and has issued the employment authorization letter.
  • Employment authorization letters are only valid for one academic semester (fall/spring). Extensions for severe economic hardships may be filed by completing another application with USCIS.

Process

  • Meet with your International Student Advisor to discuss your need and eligibility for off-campus employment due to economic hardship and to learn which documents will be required for applying for work authorization based on economic hardship.
  • Prepare and submit the following documents to your International Student Advisor:
    • Letter requesting off-campus work authorization due to economic necessity. Explain and document the serious, urgent, and unforeseen circumstances that have arisen since obtaining J-1 status.
    • A budget showing expenses and income before and after the unforeseen condition which caused the severe economic hardship.
    • Last month bank statements.
    • Copies of your biographical and visa pages.
  • If your International Student Advisor determines according to immigration regulations that you have satisfied the requirements to apply for J-1 severe economic hardship employment authorization, then you must provide an offer letter from your prospective employer. The letter should include the following:
    • Job title.
    • Job location.
    • Salary.
    • A brief description of the proposed job duties.
    • The letter should also include the employer's desired begin date and end date for your employment, and the number of hours per week you will be working.
  • Submit the offer letter to your International Student Advisor.
  • If your International Student Advisor approves the J-1 off-campus work authorization according to immigration regulation requirements, the advisor will issue a J-1 student employment authorization letter stating the dates and conditions of your employment. The authorization letter signed by the International Student Advisor is your official work authorization document, and you should keep the original. Your employer will require a copy of the letter for his/her records.
  • The International Student Advisor will enter the J-1 severe hardship employment to the J-1 student's SEVIS record.
  • The J-1 severe economic hardship employment authorization is automatically terminated if the student's program is terminated, the J-1 student is no longer in valid S&T academic status, or no longer maintains valid J-1 immigration status.
  • If you are a sponsored student, there may be other documentation required. Please check with Sponsored Student Services.

 

Documents Required for Economic Hardship

  • A letter of explanation to your International Student Advisor requesting off-campus work authorization due to economic necessity.
  • A budget showing expenses and income before and after the unforeseen condition which caused the severe economic hardship.
  • Last month bank statements.
  • An offer letter from your prospective employer. The letter should include the following:
    • Job title.
    • Job location.
    • Salary.
    • A brief description of the proposed job duties.
    • The letter should also include the employer's desired begin date and end date for your employment, and the number of hours per week that you will be working.

 

Job Opportunities

  • The Career Opportunities and Employer Relations Office (COER) is dedicated to helping students and alumni find part-time and full-time employment.
  • To learn more about available off-campus employment opportunities, please visit: http://career.mst.edu/ or visit the COER office on the third floor of Norwood Hall.

U.S. Taxes

  • When you are employed in an off-campus job, you will be required to pay taxes on your earnings.
  • You will also be required to file a federal and a state income tax return.
  • However, you may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the United States.