Employment Based on Economic Hardship for Students in F-1 Status

According to immigration regulations if other employment opportunities are not available or otherwise insufficient, F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work authorization if economic hardship has been caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the student (parent or sponsor) that arose only after arriving in the U.S.  These 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 condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.


  • Have been in legal F-1 status for a minimum of one full academic year
  • Have evidence to demonstrate the economic hardship has been caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control
  • Have a GPA of 2.0 or better for undergraduates or 3.0 or better for graduates
  • Demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with carrying a full course load
  • Be currently registered full time (12 credits for undergraduates, full time by department standards for graduates) during the spring and fall semesters or pre-registered (full time for the following term) during vacations


  • Passport must be valid and must have a validity period of at least 6 months prior to filing for economic hardship application
  • If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply at your consulate for a renewal before filing for economic hardship application


  • At the time of filing, your I-20 must be valid
  • The remaining validity period should be at least one semester

Application Procedure
Students must apply to USCIS on form I-765 for permission to accept employment.  Download the entire application and bring the completed items to the International Student Services at time of appointment.  An International Student Advisor will review your application and recommend it in SEVIS if all are in order.

Bring to the International Student Services located on the Garden level of the Wahlstrom Library, G133:

  • Form I-765, complete fully and sign in BLUE ink. | Sample I-765 Form (PDF)
  • Two passport style color photos with your name, date of birth and SEVIS ID printed in a pencil on the back; See examples here
  • $380 filing fee, make a check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.  Date on check must be current!!! | Check Sample (PDF) .
  • If you cannot pay the fee, please fill out the Form I912 for a fee waiver | Sample Form I-912
  • Write a letter addressed to USCIS detailing the unforeseen circumstances causing the economic hardship.  Include original source of financial support. | Sample Letter
  • Expense/Income Worksheet
  • On-Campus Employment Verification Form
  • Copy of ALL I-20 forms (page 1 and 3)
  • Copy of I-94 card (front and back) if you have a paper I-94 card. Stamp must be clearly legible. Electronic I-94 is available here.
  • Copy of passport: information page with expiration date and stamp of first entry into the US in F status
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Copy of form I-797 (approval notice for change of status) if you had a change of status to F-1

Please Note:

  • DO NOT work until you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and until the date on the EAD is current
  • Working without authorization is a serious violation of your status and is a deportable offense
  • Work NO MORE than 20 hours per week while school is in session. This limit INCLUDES any other form of employment you may already have, such as
    • Assistantship
    • Other on-campus employment
    • Internship/co-op
  • Must be enrolled and attend school while school is in session
  • Employment may be full time during vacations
  • Employment terminates if you fail to maintain legal F-1 status or if you transfer schools
  • Employment is renewable if you continue to experience hardship but you must apply for it
  • Try not to travel outside of the U.S. for non-emergencies.  Vacation travel and the associated expenses might have a negative impact on your economic hardship application or renewal
  • If you change your address while your application is pending with immigration, within 10 days you must notify:
    • ISS through MyUB, and
    • USCIS by calling the phone number on your receipt notice