If you are an F-1 student who is experiencing unforeseen, serious financial hardship while studying in the U.S., you may be able to obtain off-campus employment authorization. USCIS authorizes economic hardship employment for F-1 Students.
Economic hardship employment authorization:
- May provide help in difficult circumstances by allowing you to supplement your income enough to meet living expenses.
- Will not enable you to earn enough to bear the cost of full-time course of study required to maintain student status.
- Is not a solution for serious financial difficulties.
The requirements and limitations of economic hardship employment authorization are determined by immigration status. The below information applies to F-1 visa holders.
F-1 Economic Hardship
F-1 Eligibility & Application Process
To qualify for economic hardship employment, immigration regulations require that you meet the following conditions:
- You are a full-time student in good standing and have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
- You must document that the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unexpected and beyond your control.
- You must be capable of continuing full-time studies and maintaining F-1 status while engaged in economic hardship work permission.
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.”
Only unforeseen problems can be the basis for hardship employment since students must first demonstrate that all of the financial resources needed for their program of study are available before they are able to obtain an I-20 and enter the US in F-1 status.
- Read and print the Application Instructions
- Use the instructions to complete and mail the application to USCIS
Conditions & Restrictions of Employment
If USCIS authorizes your hardship employment application, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS granting you permission to work off-campus. Typically, permission is granted for one year or for the remainder of your academic program, whichever period is less. Please also note the following:
- You may work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full time during vacation periods.
- You may work in any job, related or not related to your studies.
- You may not start employment until you have received an EAD or before the start date indicated on the EAD.
- Hardship employment does not count towards your ability to work on-campus or affect your eligibility for practical training.
- If you transfer to another institution, your EAD becomes invalid.
- You must be physically present in the U.S. until after USCIS receives your application for processing. Keep delivery confirmation whenever possible. We strongly recommend you to discuss your travel plans in advance of the filing with USCIS to avoid any rejection or denial.
- If you later decide not to mail your Economic Hardship application (I-765 plus supporting documentation) to USCIS for any reason, you must notify P/DSO immediately so that we may timely cancel your recommendation in SEVIS. Failure to inform a P/DSO that you are not applying for Economic Hardship can cause problems in the future.
- Please notify ISO if you have not received an I-797 Receipt Notice with a case number from USCIS within 2-6 weeks from the date that your application was received at USCIS. Please attach a copy of delivery confirmation.
- Please submit a copy of your employment authorization card to ISO immediately upon receipt.
- When the application is pending, we strongly advise against changing the address listed on the 1-765
- USCIS has not been able to process change of address notifications properly.
- Changing your address while still pending may result in your being required to file a new Economic Hardship application with a new fee if your documents are lost.
- We suggest you use the address of someone who can receive mail on your behalf. Remember, put “c/o”, followed by the person’s name and address, on Line 3 of the I-765. The US Postal Service will not forward USCIS mail.
- Your Economic Hardship will be automatically terminated when you begin study at another educational level or transfer to another school.
- If you find any errors by USCIS on your EAD card, please inform ISO immediately.
- Immediately inform ISO of any immigration status change.
If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), please submit it to ISO immediately.
How to submit your RFE document:
- Submit a copy of all pages of the RFE HERE
If you do not have a Social Security Number, you should apply for a Social Security Number based on the economic hardship employment authorization. For more information, please see Social Security section on this site.
- You may be exempt from social security taxes.
- You are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local.
- More detailed information can be found in Tax Information.