Economic Hardship

Severe Economic Hardship Employment helps F-1 students who face economic hardship due to changes in their circumstances that could not be controlled or predicted. This 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 condition of the student's source of support, medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses." During fall and spring semesters, you are limited to part-time employment (a maximum of 20 hours per week) and you must maintain a full course of study. You can work full-time during the summer or officially recognized school breaks.


A student must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year before they are eligible to apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment.

How to apply for Severe Economic Hardship:

  1. Make an appointment with the International Student Office.
  2. Bring your current I-20, passport, and I-94 card.
  3. Completed form I-765 and $340 fee.
  4. A letter written by you to the Department of Homeland Security detailing the nature of your economic hardship and change in circumstances beyond your control or ability to predict.
  5. Bring supporting documents: medical bills, newspaper documents providing currency devaluation in home country, letter from the Office of Student Employment verifying lack of on-campus employment opportunities, proof of income loss from sponsor, etc.
  6. Two passport size photos.

In general, it takes approximately three months to receive your work authorization card. The card is valid for up to one year. You may apply for one additional year if the economic hardship continues beyond the initial year.