EmploymentBased on Severe Economic Hardship

This F-1 employment benefit is intended to address situations where a financial need arises beyond the student's control, which was unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he or she is currently attending and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.
Off-campus employment is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond the student’s control have created severe economic hardship. These may include:
  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment​if it is not the student’s fault
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs
  • Substantial decrease in the relative value of currency the student depends upon to pay expenses
  • Unexpected changes in the financial conditions for his or her sources of financial support
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Other substantial, unexpected expenses
  1. Preconditions
  2. Must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year. Must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.
  3. Location
    • Is designed for off-campus employment but can be done on-campus
  4. Duration
    • Granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter;
      Authorization ends if a student transfers schools
  5. Hours per week
    • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school breaks
  6. Field/level of work
    • Can be in any job. Does not have to be related to course of study.
  7. Offer of employment
    • Not required as a condition of eligibility
  8. Effect on other work
    • Use of this category of employment does not count towards the 20-hour on-campus maximum, nor does it affect eligibility for practical training.
  9. Approval process
    • Must apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS after Designated School Official (DSO) updates SEVIS with recommendation

Limitations of the EAD process

The student cannot begin employment until he or she receives the EAD from USCIS. Processing times for EAD issuance vary greatly from Service Center to Service Center, and a student applying for economic necessity work authorization must often wait several weeks or even months before the EAD actually arrives.
Authorization is granted in one-year intervals, up to the expected date of completion of studies. Students must reapply to USCIS each year to renew this work authorization. If a student needs uninterrupted work authorization, he or she must apply early enough so that the EAD is received before the expiration date of the prior one, since continued employment during the pendency of an EAD extension request is not authorized.

Limits on the terms of employment

Off-campus employment authorization in this category is terminated when the student transfers from one school to another, or when the need for employment ceases.

Procedures for applying for economic hardship work authorization

The student must:
  1. Document the circumstances causing the economic need
  2. The student can write a statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, should attach backup documentation; for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student's country.
  3. Explain why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient (a simple statement might suffice).
  4. Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the code: "(C)(3)(iii)" at item 16. Instructions for Completing Form I-765
  5. Obtain two passport-style photos (Write your Name and Date Of Birth on the backside of each photo)
  6. Make a request to the ISP office for a new I-20 with DSO recommendation for economic hardship employment
What to send where:
  • Form I-765, completed by the student, marked with the code "(c)(3)(iii)" at item 16
  • I-765 processing fee in a check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
  • Copy of the newly issued student's Form I-20 with page 3 including the DSO recommendation for economic hardship employment
  • Two passport-style photos (write your name and date of birth on the backside of each photo)
  • Copy of the student's I-94, front and back
  • A letter from the student (and an optional letter from the DSO), explaining the circumstances of the hardship. Some USCIS Service Centers also require the student to submit supporting materials documenting the unforeseen nature of the economic hardship and, to the extent possible, the unavailability of on-campus employment to meet the need
  • Copy of the ID pages from the student's passport, or, for applications for renewal of work authorization, a photocopy of the previously issued EAD
  • Certified translations for foreign language documents (if any)


Please submit certified translations for all foreign language documents. The translator must certify that she/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.  The certification format should include the certifier's name, signature, address, and date of certification.  A suggested format is:
Certification by Translator
I _typed name_ , certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the _English_ and _________ languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled ____________.
Signature__________________Date Typed Name, Address____________


Where to File?

Please visit the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov/I-765


Application Fee Waiver Information


If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility,complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

USCIS adjudication

If employment is authorized, USCIS will issue the student an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If the application is denied, USCIS will indicate the reason for the denial in writing. A denial may not be appealed, although if the circumstances warrant, a motion to reopen or reconsider could be filed.
USCIS Case Search USCIS Processing Time Information
  1. Basic Guidelines
  2. Approval Process
  3. Work Hours
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