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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 off-campus work authorization granted by USCIS for severe economic need.
  • 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 in F-1 status 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 these circumstances arose after the student obtained F-1 status.
  • The student 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 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
  • Contact Eva Wong to discuss your situation. An advisor will review your situation 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.
  • While we are available to discuss the application process with you, you are ultimately responsible for what you submit to USCIS, and the results.
Application Materials

Refer to the I-765, application for Employment Authorization and form instructions for specific instructions.

  • a statement from the student (e.g., letter - address it to "To Whom it May Concern:") 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 sponsor, newspaper article citing disaster, etc.)
  • you 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 (an ISSP advisor)
  • a copy of the supporting I-20 from the DSO (an ISSP advisor)
  • 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)
    • The Form I-765 must be signed in ink.
      • The signature should not cross the line in the space where you are supposed to sign for the signature that appears on the EAD card is scanned directly from the I-765. 
  • 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 online I-94 Record or card
  • 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, 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 may apply for one based on your work authorization.