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Severe Economic Hardship Employment F-1 Students

Under certain circumstances, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may grant employment authorization to F-1 students who show clear evidence of the need for financial assistance. This employment benefit is very difficult to receive, and is reserved by USCIS as a last resort for those students requiring financial assistance to complete their academic program.


  • Must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year (Fall and Spring)
  • Must be in good academic standing
  • Must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship cause by circumstances beyond your control
  • Must have explored all other options of employment
  • Must demonstrate that employment will not interfere with your studies
  • Job does not have to be in your field of study

Hours Per Week

  • Part-time while school is in session: 20 hours or less
  • Full-time during breaks: No limit

Authorization is granted in increments of one year at a time, or until your program end date, whichever is shorter. Authorization ends if you transfer schools.


  1. Speak to an ISSS advisor for approval before applying.
  2. After the advisor approves, submit the following documents to ISSS:
    • Personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and why other employment options are unavailable. Attach supporting documentation, such as proof of currency devaluation in your country
    • Completed form I-765 (PDF)
    • Passport with F-1 visa
    • Current I-94 record indicating F-1 status
    • Current and all previous I-20s 
    • $410 check, cashier's check or money order, payable to US Department of Homeland Security (verify fee in case of increases on the I-765 instructions)
    • Two passport style photos
    • Copies of previous employment authorization documents (if applicable)
  3. ISSS will notify you within 3 - 5 business days when your application is ready for you to pick-up with your new I-20 recommending severe economic hardship employment.
  4. Mail your complete application to USCIS within 30 days.