Economic Hardship Work Authorization

The F-1 Economic Hardship Work Authorization is a type of work authorization granted for severe economic need. In order to be eligible for this work authorization, the student must prove that circumstances beyond his/her control have caused a severe economic hardship and these circumstances arose after he/she obtained F-1 status. Such circumstances might include the death or severe financial loss of the student's financial sponsor, devaluation of the currency in which the student's funding for study is held, etc. The student must currently be in good standing as a student and have been in status for at least one academic year.

Employment authorized under Economic Hardship may be used on- or off-campus, but is limited to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters (during official breaks, ex. winter break, spring break, and summer break, students may work full-time). Work does not have to be related to the student's field of study and does not affect eligibility for OPT or CPT.

The work authorization will be granted directly by Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and will come in the form of an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card from USCIS. The cost of application is $410.

Apply for an F-1 Economic Hardship Work Authorization
  1. Call 757-221-3590 to schedule an appointment with an immigration advisor at the Reves Center.
  2. Be prepared to discuss your financial situation at the appointment, including the circumstances of how the economic hardship arose, what efforts you have made to find other funding sources (including work on-campus), and your financial need. Bring evidence (e.g. newspaper article, letters from family, death notice, etc) to support your application. The advisor will make a determination as to whether or not the Reves Center will support your application.
  3. If the Reves Center will support your application, the advisor will write a supporting letter and issue you an I-20 recommending Economic Hardship Work Authorization. You will then mail this to USCIS along with the items from the required items checklist below.
  4. About 2 weeks after USCIS receives your application you will receive a receipt Notice from USCIS indicating that they have received your application.
  5. If the application is approved, about 6-10 weeks after the receipt notice arrives, you will receive an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card from USCIS. You may begin working once you reach the start date on the card.
Items Required to Apply for Work Authorization
  • a statement from the student (e.g. essay/letter - address it to "Dear Sir/Madam:") that describes:
    • your length of time enrolled as a full-time student in F-1 status
    • your current GPA
    • an explanation of unforeseen circumstances leading to application (e.g. currency devaluation, parents' loss of income, etc)
    • your attempts to locate other sources (e.g. on-campus work, on-campus funding, etc) and why they are not sufficient
  • supporting evidence of the circumstances (e.g. letter from parents, newspaper article citing disaster, etc)
  • a supporting statement from the DSO (at the Reves Center)
  • a supporting I-20 from the DSO
  • a completed and signed I-765
  • a check for $410 made payable to "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services" (I-765 fee). If you cannot afford this, you can apply for a fee waiver.
  • 2 photos of yourself (see photo guide)
  • copies of all previous I-20s, passport identity page, I-94 (front and back)