Economic Hardship

Severe Economic Hardship

If you are an F-1 student who is experiencing unforeseen, serious financial hardship while studying in the U.S., you may be able to obtain off-campus employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under certain conditions.

In order to apply, you must have been in F-1 status for one academic year, be in good academic standing, be able to document the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unexpected and beyond your control, must be capable of continuing full-time studies and maintaining F-1 status while engaged in economic hardship work permission

Examples of unforeseen circumstances include loss of financial support or on-campus employment, 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 your source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Visit the International Student Office to discuss your situation before you complete the required documentation. Your adviser will determine your eligibility and assist you in completing the application and submitting it to USCIS. Required documentation includes:

  • Form I-765 (write (c)(3)(iii) in item 16)
  • $380 fee (make your check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
  • Photocopy of Form I-20, with the DSO recommendation for economic hardship employment
  • Two passport style photos
  • Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back)
  • A letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient; include supporting evidence
  • Photocopy of passport identification page
  • Photocopy of visa page
  • Photocopies of any previously-issued EAD cards

Please keep in mind that economic hardship employment authorization will not enable you to earn enough to bear the cost of full-time course of study required to maintain F-1 student status.

Application processing times vary between two to four months. If approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for a maximum of one year. Do not begin working until you receive the EAD.

Typically, permission is granted for one year or for the remainder of your academic program, whichever period is less. Please also note the following:

  • You may work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during vacation periods.
  • You may work in any job, related or not related to your studies.
  • You may not start employment until you have received an EAD or before the start date indicated on the EAD.
  • Hardship employment does not count towards your ability to work on-campus or affect your eligibility for practical training.
  • If you transfer to another institution, your EAD becomes invalid.

This employment does not affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Employment authorization is automatically terminated if you fail to maintain status or transfer to another school.