Economic Hardship

If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include a 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, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.


  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control


  1. Schedule an appointment with ISSS to evaluate your eligibility for economic hardship.

  2. If it is decided that you are eligible to apply for economic hardship, you will need to prepare the following documentation:

    1. Copy of I-20 issued for economic hardship

    2. •A personal statement. Statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc.

    3. •Completed Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization (available from

    4. •Completed Form I-912: Request for Fee Waiver (available from

    5. •Check/money order for Form I-765 processing fee

    6. •Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Photos can be obtained at Powerhouse. Put photos in an envelope. Attach the fee and the photo envelope on top of the entire application (on the upper left-hand corner). Do not staple the fee and the photos.

    7. •Copy of I-94

    8. •Copy of your current class schedule

    9. •Copy of transcripts from all schools

    10. •Copy of passport photo page

    11. •Copy of financial documentation

  3.  Once you have prepared all these materials, schedule a meeting with ISSS. At the meeting, an ISSS advisor will review your application materials. On average, students meet with ISSS at least twice before submitting their application. After the review process is complete, the student will submit the materials directly to USCIS.

On average, USCIS requires 3-4 months to make a decision. If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You are allowed to work part time with the EAD when school is in session but you must be enrolled as a full time student. You may work full time with the EAD during vacations. The employment does not have to be related to course of study and it does not count towards the 20-hour on campus maximum. The EAD may be renewed only if you are maintaining status and are in good academic standing. The employment authorization is automatically terminated if you transfer from one school to another one or if you fail to maintain status.