F-1 students who are experiencing unforeseen financial hardship while studying in the US, may be able to obtain off-campus employment authorization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under certain conditions.
This authorization may provide real help in difficult circumstances by allowing the student to supplement his or her income enough to meet some living expenses. Economic hardship employment authorization will not, however, enable students to earn enough to bear the cost of full-time course of study required to maintain F-1 student status. Therefore, it should not be seen as a solution for serious financial difficulties.
To qualify for economic hardship employment, immigration regulations require that the student meet the following conditions:
Immigration regulations state that unforeseen 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 conditions of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses 8CFR§214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C ). Only unforeseen problems can be the basis for hardship employment since, in order to obtain a Form I-20 and enter the United States in F-1 status initially, students had to first demonstrate that all of the financial resources needed for their program of study were available.
Students who wish to apply for economic hardship employment authorization should meet with an ISSS advisor to confirm their eligibility and review the conditions and procedures for applying. The following forms should be reviewed: