Severe economic hardship employment

F-1 students may apply for off-campus employment if s/he is able to provide evidence of severe, economic need caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.  When an F-1 student first enters a program of study, s/he must provide evidence of financial support in order to obtain an initial Form I-20.  However, if there are extenuating circumstances that arise later and are out of the control of the student, s/he may be eligible to apply to work off-campus for a period of one year.


In order to be eligible to apply for Employment based on Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship, a student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 student status
  • Have completed 1 full academic year (2 semesters or 3 terms)
  • Demonstrate that loss of funding is unforeseen beyond the student’s control and that off-campus work is necessary for the student to continue the academic program

Circumstances that may warrant a reason to apply for Severe Economic Hardship may include “loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, 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 the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)

Specifications of work

If a student is approved by the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services for Employment based on Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship, then s/he will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card for one year at a time (or until the end of the program). A student cannot begin work until he/she has been approved and receives the EAD card.

Once the student has the EAD card, then he/she can work:

  • Off-campus in a position that does not need to be related to his/her major
  • Up to 20 hours/week during the academic year, or full-time during a vacation period

How to apply

In order to discuss the possibility of applying for Employment due to Severe Unforeseen Economic Hardship, the student must first make an appointment with an advisor at the OGS. In this appointment, the student and advisor will discuss the student’s eligibility to apply for this work authorization and review the application process.

If it is determined that the student is eligible to apply for employment due to severe unforeseen economic need, the student should expect to:

  • Obtain a new Form I-20 from their OGS advisor with recommendation for work authorization
  • Write a statement for the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services describing the unforeseen hardship situation
  • Provide evidence/supporting documentation to demonstrate financial need that was unforeseen and beyond the student’s control
  • Complete Form I-765 and supporting documents and send them to the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Provide a check to the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services for $410
    • Note: If request is denied, this fee is non-refundable
  • Wait for approximately 90 days to hear a response from the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services