Severe Economic Hardship

F-1 students, who have been enrolled full-time, are in good academic standing, and holding an active F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year are eligible to apply for employment authorization due to economic hardship.

Remember that eligibility only refers to the ability to apply and does not mean qualification for approval. To qualify under this provision you must demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control and that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your needs.

Please speak with a Designated School Official if you would like to file for employment authorization due to severe economic hardship.

To apply for employment authorization you will need to gather the following documents:

  • Letter explaining severe economic hardship. In this letter, you should discuss the hardship situation, your effort to find on campus employment, and include a list of all income, assets, and expenses.
  • Copies of current passport, visa and I-94 card or print-out (www.cbp.gov/i94);
  • Current I-20;
  • Form I-765 (www.uscis.gov/forms);
  • 2 passport-style photos;
  • Check or money order made out to “Department of Homeland Security” for $410.00 USD;
  • A Designated School Official will review your documentation of economic hardship and, if appropriate, will recommend authorization for a period of up to one year;
  • It can take USCIS approximately 90 days to process an application for work authorization based on economic hardship. Many times economic hardship cases are not approved.  If your case is denied, you DO NOT get your money back.

Duration of Employment

  • Employment may be authorized for up to a maximum of one year.
  • Similar to on-campus employment regulations, employment is limited to 20 hours per week during academic semesters and engagement in full-time employment only during vacation periods.