J-1 Off-Campus Employment Based on Economic Hardship

A J-1 student may be authorized to work off-campus if “serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances” have arisen since acquiring exchange visitor status. Source: 22 C.F.R. § 62.23 (g) (1) (iii). This type of authorization must be granted in writing by International Student & Scholar Services before employment begins.

Source: 22 C.F.R. § 62.23 (g) (1) (i) - (ii)

Eligibility Criteria

As a J-1 exchange visitor student, you may engage in part-time, off-campus employment while school is in session (full-time during vacation periods) if you meet these criteria set by the State Department:

  • You must have serious, urgent, and unforeseen economic circumstances that have arisen since you acquired exchange visitor status;
  • You must be in good academic standing;
  • You must continue to carry a full course of study, except for official school breaks and your annual vacation; and
  • You must have a written offer of employment.

The employment may not exceed 20 hours per week (for both on-campus and off-campus employment) while school is in session, and full-time during summer and official University holiday breaks. Off-campus employment authorization may be valid for up to twelve months or until the expiration date listed on the DS-2019. New authorization must be requested if employment extends beyond the authorization period. Authorization is automatically withdrawn if student’s program is completed.

You are eligible to work only after obtaining written approval from ISSS or your J-1 sponsor. The job does not need to be related to the student's field of study. There is no time limit associated with the Unforeseen Economic Hardship work authorization; if a student can demonstrate financial need due to unexpected change in their funding, they are eligible to apply. Economic Hardship work authorization does not affect a student's J-1 Academic Training eligibility. 

Documentation Needed to Apply

To apply for employment based on severe economic hardship, you must schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor and bring the following documents to your appointment:

  • An employment offer letter from employer. The letter must contain:
    • The type of employment (student worker/hourly position or graduate assistantship)
    • The exact start and end date of the employment (month/day/year)
    • Number of hours per week
  • A statement explaining the nature of your economic situation and how it is serious, urgent, and unforeseen.

How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment

  1. Schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor and bring the documents listed above to your appointment.
  2. The ISSS advisor will review your documents and issue a letter authorizing the employment for a period of time up to twelve months
  3. This letter will serve as your proof of employment authorization. You will present it to your employer along with your paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94, passport, and DS-2019 to prove that you have received authorization to work off campus with that employer.

NOTE: You are responsible for complying with the terms of the regulations specified in the authorization letter. If you are employed without ISSS authorization, you will have violated your J-1 status, which may result in losing benefits of the J-1 program and jeopardize your permission to stay in or reenter the U.S.