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Economic Hardship Work Authorization

steps for applying for work authorization
  • The F-1 Economic Hardship Work Authorization is a type of work authorization granted by USCIS for severe economic need.
  • In order to be eligible for this work authorization, the student must prove that circumstances beyond the student's control have caused a severe economic hardship and these circumstances arose after the student 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, huge medical bills, etc.
  • The student must be in good academic standing and have been enrolled full-time for one year (two semesters).
  • The student has demonstrated that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student's carrying a full course of study.
  • The student has demonstrated that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control and has demonstrated that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.
  • 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 (eg., winter break, spring break, and summer break) students may work unlimited hours. 
  • Employment does not have to be related to the student's field of study and does not affect eligibility for OPT or CPT.
  • Offer of employment is not required as a condition of eligibility.
  • Granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the program end-date on I-20, whichever is shorter.
  • Authorization ends if a student transfers to a different school
Application Process
  • Draft your statement (see "Applicants Materials" below for instructions) and send it to Zabrina Williams. Zabrina will review your statement and make a determination as to whether or not the Office of International Students, Scholars & Programs (ISSP) will support your application.
  • If ISSP 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.
Application Materials
  • a statement from the student (e.g., letter - address it to "Dear Sir/Madam:") that includes:
    • 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.)
    • a description of attempts to locate other funding sources (e.g., on-campus work, on-campus funding, etc.) or funding is not sufficient to meet the needs that have arisen due to the unforeseen circumstances
    • an explanation that accepting employment will not interfere with your enrollment in a full course of study
  • supporting evidence of the circumstances (e.g., letter from parents, newspaper article citing disaster, etc.)
  • evidence you have been in valid F-1 status for one full academic year, are a student in good standing, and are enrolled in a full course of study. You can provide a copy of an unofficial transcript. Unofficial transcripts can be accessed via Banner Self-Service.
  • a supporting statement from the DSO (at the Reves Center)
  • a copy of the supporting I-20 from the DSO
  • a completed and signed form I-765, application for Employment Authorization
    • USCIS is currently only accepting paper applications for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
    • Under "Eligibility Category", enter (c) (3) (iii)
  • Check or money order made payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" or Form G-1450 if you wish to pay by credit card. When paying by credit card, international credit cards are typically rejected. For current Filing Fee amounts, see the USCIS I-765 site. If you cannot afford the fee, you can apply for a fee waiver.
  • 2 passport sized photos taken within the last 6 months (see photo guidelines)
  • a copy of your passport identification page
  • a copy of your current I-94 Record
  • a copy of your current visa in your passport if applicable
  • Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application Acceptance
Mailing your I-765 Application
  • Mail your application to the appropriate filing address for Form I-765. We recommend that you use express mail (e.g., UPS, FedEx) to mail your application so that you can track it.
  • About 2 weeks after USCIS receives your application, you will receive an I-797 Receipt Notice. If you included the Form G-1145 in your application, you will also receive a text and/or email message confirming the receipt of your application.
Decision on your Application
  • It is not unusual for USCIS to contact applicants with requests for future evidence (RFE) prior to making a final decision. If you received an RFE, you need to respond to the request by the deadline.
  • Once USCIS completes adjudication of your application, you will receive written confirmation of their decision (I-797 Approval Notice). 
  • 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. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you many apply for one based on your work authorization.