International Students and Scholars Office

Severe Economic Hardship


If you are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus.

Examples of Unforeseen Circumstances:

  • 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, such a loss of a family business
  • Excessive medical bills

Employment Authorization:

  • The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time.
  • The authorization allows you to work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while you are registered full-time.
  • It also allows you to work more than 20 hours per week during semester breaks. This employment does not affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Employment authorization is automatically terminated if you graduate, fail to maintain status, or transfer to another school.


  • You must have been in F-1 status for one academic year
  • You must be in good academic standing
  • You must document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your financial needs.

How to Apply

Make an appointment with your International Student Advisor.

  • Form I-765 (write (c)(3)(iii) in item 16)
  • Form I-765 filing fee paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card
  • Photocopy of Form I-20, with your ISSO advisor’s recommendation for economic hardship employment
  • Two passport style photos
  • Photocopy of I-94
  • 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

  • Keep a copy of the application materials for you record
  • Application processing times at USCIS vary between two to four months. Do not begin working until you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct filing location.

Other Resources

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