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Severe Economic Hardship Employment for F-1 students

If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request off-campus employment work authorization based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances 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.


  • You must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control.
  • You must be a full time student.
  • OPT is a benefit granted by the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Applying for Economic Hardship Employment

  • Make an appointment with Andrew Meade in OIS.
  • Prepare a package containing the following:
    • Evidence that:
      • You have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year;
      • You are currently in good standing (request a copy of your transcript from the Registrar);
      • Acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student carrying a full course of study (Request a letter from your advisor that verifies your good standing and speaks to this);
      • The employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. Write a statement and, if possible, attach supporting documentation. Eg a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of currency devaluation in your home country. Explain in the statement why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient.;
      • On-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the student's needs that arose because of the unforeseen circumstances
    • Complete Form I-765
      • Use code (c)(3)(iii) in the Eligibility Category field (currently item 27).
    • Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)
    • Make photocopies of ALL your I-20s
    • Request a copy of your transcript from the Registrar
    • Obtain two immigration-style photos, 2” x 2”
    • Photocopy your I-94 arrival/departure record (available online here)
    • Photocopy the visa and information pages of your passport.
    • Provide a check or money order payable to “DHS.” Find this amount on the I-765 “Filing Fee” link. You also have the option of requesting a fee waiver, in which case you would also include a properly completed and documented Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Review USCIS guidance on fee waivers before completing Form I-912.
  • During your appointment with OIS
    • We will review your documents
    • We will produce a new I-20 which will include a recommendation for economic hardship employment
    • Make and keep a full photocopy of these documents in case any or all are lost in the mail.
  • Economic Hardship FAQs
    • For what time period is the Economic Hardship employment granted?
      • It is granted in one year increments, and must be re-applied for each year.
    • What happens if the application is approved?
      • You will receive an Employment Authorization Document (a laminated card with your photo and start and end dates.)
    • What happens if the application is denied?
      • You will be notified by USCIS in writing.
    • I got the card! When can I start working?
      • You can start as of the start date on your EAD card.
    • Can I work full time?
      • You may work up to 20 hours in total, on campus employment included, while classes are in session. There is no restriction to hours worked during academic breaks.