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Severe Economic Hardship

Overview

Students who suffer from severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in their financial circumstances may apply to United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for special authorization to work off-campus. In order to apply, students must have been on F-1 status for at least one academic year, they must hold good academic standing, and must prove that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet the student's financial needs. 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.

Contact a DSO in the Registration Office to discuss your situation before you complete the required documentation. Your advisor will determine your eligibility and assist you in completing the application and submitting it to USCIS.

 

Application Procedure
  • Receive permission to apply through a DSO in the Registration Office.
  • 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 a 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

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. If approved, you may work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while enrolled in a full course of study and full-time during quarter breaks and your annual vacation quarter. 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.