Severe Economic Hardship Employment

Under rare circumstances, 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, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. 


 F-1 students are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • the student has been in active F-1 status after one full academic year has been completed; and
  • the student is in good academic standing and is taking a full course load; and
  • Employment will not interfere with the student's studies; and 
  • the student can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control 

Requesting Economic Hardship Employment 

To request authorization for employment based on severe economic hardship, please email the following documents to

  • Application for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
  • Completed Form I-765
    • If this is your first time seeking employment under Economic Hardship, you will choose that you are applying for: "Inital permission to accept employment"
    • When you get to the “Eligibility Category” for Severe Economic Hardship, you will input:  ( C ) (3) (iii) 

*Please allow 5-7 business days for processing. All requests are processed in the order they are received. Please plan accordingly. 

How to Apply 

Once your request is processed by ISSS, you will receive an updated I-20, along with a checklist on how to put together your Economic Hardship Application Packet. You must mail your application packet to USCIS within 30 days from the date that your I-20 was signed by ISSS.  At this time, Economic Hardship is not able to be applied for online.

Processing Time

Once USCIS receives your application, they will send you a receipt notice. Please note that this is not an approval notice. It usually takes about 3 months to receive a decision from USCIS. You will receive a notice in the mail whether your application was approved or denied. 


  • During the academic year, you must be registered as a full-time student. Failure to register appropriately may lead to termination of your immigration status and work authorization. 
  • You cannot apply until you have been in F-1 status for one full academic year; that year must be completed and you must be in good academic standing
  • You cannot work until you receive your Employment Authorization Card. 
  • After you receive your Employment Authorization Card, you must scan a copy of the card to You will then receive an updated I-20 which will show your approved work authorization on page 2. 
  • Your card will have a start and end date; you can only work between those dates. 
  • You are only able to work part-time during the semester, but you can work full time during breaks. 
  • Work authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, transfer universities, or if you violate your F-1 status in any way.
  • Economic Hardship can be renewed annually up to date of graduation; see information above titled Requesting Economic Hardship. If you are renewing you would choose "Renewal of permission to accept employment" on form I-765.
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