Severe Economic Hardship Guide

Students may apply for work authorization through USCIS due to severe economic hardship.
  • Is designed for off-campus employment but can be done on-campus.
  • Granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter.
  • Authorization ends when a student transfers his or her SEVIS record to another institution.
  • Can be in any job - does not have to be related to course of study.
  • Students are limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session. Student may work full time during break periods (summer).
  • Must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS with the assistance of the Designated School Official (DSO).
  • Student cannot begin employment until he or she receives the EAD from USCIS.
  • Have been in F-1 status for one full academic year and currently in good standing as a student.
  • Must prove that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances unforeseen, unexpected, and beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. For example, devaluation of the currency in your home country, loss of family/sponsor income, etc. (retirement of your sponsor is not a valid reason to apply).


To Apply:
  1. Make an appointment to see an international student advisor at ISSS during appointment times. You will need to request an updated I-20 during the appointment to submit for your application to USCIS.
  2. Mail your application to USCIS with the following completed forms and items listed below:
    1. An I-20 with the recommendation for the Economic Hardship Employment Authorization on the 2nd page.
    2. Completed I-765, follow instructions on completing form at this link. #16 eligibility category is (c)(3)(iii).
    3. Two (2)-2" x 2" passport-sized photos (must be different photos than your passport/visa)
    4. A copy of your paper I-94. If you entered the U.S. after May 2013, go to this link. If you entered the U.S. before May 2013, you should have a paper card in your passport.
    5. Copy of your passport picture page and visa page
    6. Application fee: Verify the current filing fee under "Filing Fees"; check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Alternatively, you can submit an I-912 Request for Fee Waiver. You will need to complete this form following these directions.
    7. Letter in English from your sponsor explaining why promised funds are no longer available (if applicable)
    8. Letter from student describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, should attach supporting documentation; for example, a copy of the sponsor’s death certificate or proof of a currency devaluation in the student’s country. This letter should also mention why other employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient.
    9. Create a budget form comparing income (sponsorship money, on-campus job) versus expenditures (tuition, fees, rent, etc.).
    10. Bring all past EAD/work permit cards (if applicable).