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).
- 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.
- Mail your application to USCIS with the following completed forms and items listed below:
- An I-20 with the recommendation for the Economic Hardship Employment Authorization on the 2nd page.
- Completed I-765, follow instructions on completing form at this link. #16 eligibility category is (c)(3)(iii).
- Two (2)-2" x 2" passport-sized photos (must be different photos than your passport/visa)
- 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.
- Copy of your passport picture page and visa page
- 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.
- Letter in English from your sponsor explaining why promised funds are no longer available (if applicable)
- 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.
- Create a budget form comparing income (sponsorship money, on-campus job) versus expenditures (tuition, fees, rent, etc.).
- Bring all past EAD/work permit cards (if applicable).