F-1 Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship

On rare occasions students who have been granted F-1 status and have begun their studies are faced with a sudden change to their financial situations completely beyond their control such as the outbreak of war, a large and unexpected devaluation of the currency in their home countries, or the death or loss of employment of their primary supporter. In some of these cases an opportunity for part-time off-campus employment may allow the student to continue to study. In these cases, the Federal Code of Regulations allow the student to apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based upon severe economic hardship in order to address the unexpected financial crisis.


To qualify, you must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year, must prove to USCIS that off-campus employment is necessary due to the severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control, and must demonstrate that these circumstances arose after you were granted F-1 status. Authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year until the program end date. Employment in this category need not relate to your field of study. Work is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session but may be full-time during official school breaks. This 20-hour limit includes any on-campus employment.


Make an appointment with your international student advisor and bring to the appointment the following:

1. A written statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and an explanation of why other (on-campus) employment options are insufficient to meet this need
2. Documentation of the economic circumstances (for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation)
3. A completed I-765 Form [For block 16 enter (c) (3) (iii)]
4. A check in the amount of $380 made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
5. A copy of any previous EAD cards
6. A copy of your I-94
7. A copy of the biographic page of your passport and any extension pages
8. Two recent passport photos

Your international student advisor will review the documentation and discuss your eligibility for the benefit. ISSS will notify you via email when the new I-20 is ready to be signed. ISSS requires five business days for processing. Once the new I-20 is signed, ISSS will mail the application to USCIS. If the application is approved, an EAD will be mailed to ISSS, and ISSS will again notify the student that it is ready for pickup.