Employment Based on Economic Hardship

The US Citizenship and Immigration Cervices (USCIS) regulations governing off-campus employment based on economic hardship took effect July 20, 1992. These regulations apply to students in F-1 status who were in the U.S. on or before that date and those who enter the United States after that date.

In order to be eligible for economic hardship you must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months)
  • Be in good academic standing (2.0 average or above)
  • Be enrolled as a full time student (12 credits)
  • Provide evidence of economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances beyond your control

Examples of unforeseen circumstances, which may cause economic hardship:

  • The loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on your part.
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of the currency or exchange rates
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your sponsor
  • Medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Employment is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session, and full-time during holidays or vacation periods. You may work for any employer at any position, anywhere in the United States. A job offer is NOT required in advance of obtaining employment authorization.  Employment authorization is automatically terminated when you fail to maintain status. 


You will need to provide the following documents to the DSO to process your Form I-20 application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship:

  • completed I-765 form
  • current SEVIS I-20
  • written evidence of unforeseen circumstances causing economic hardship
  • completed hardship application form

Once the Form I-20 application for off-campus employment based on economic hardship is complete, the International Student Advisor will issue a new Form I-20 with the authorization for economic hardship. 


To receive your EAD card for economic hardship you will need to submit the following to the USCIS:

  • Form I-765
  • Copy of SEVIS I-20 listing the employment recommendation for economic hardship.
  • Copies of your Form I-94 card (both sides)
  • Copy of your Passport identification page
  • Copy of your F-1 visa
  • Written evidence of unforeseen circumstances causing economic hardship.
  • Two photos with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to USCIS.

$410.00 filing fee.  Pay the exact amount with a Check or Money Order ONLY, made payable to “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

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