If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include a 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, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]

Eligibility Criteria

F-1 students are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • the student has been in F-1 status for one full academic year
  • the student is in good academic standing and is taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with the student's studies
  • the student can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond the student's control

Documentation Needed to Apply

To apply for employment based on severe economic hardship, the student must schedule an appointment with an ISA, and bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student’s home country, etc.
  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 20. Only date the form once ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Copies of the student’s current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of electronic Form I-94
  • Copy of a recent transcript
  • Copy of the student’s passport page showing the biographical information and the expiration date
  • Copy of the student’s F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • $410 check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If the student faces an inability to pay the $410 application fee, please visit http://www.uscis.gov/feewaiver for information regarding requesting a fee waiver.
  • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain white background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS.

Special Student Relief

Students in J-1 status whose means of financial support come from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines, and whose financial support has been disrupted, reduced, or eliminated due to economic crises in that country may be authorized for full- or part-time employment on- or off-campus.