You are here: American University Campus Life International Student & Scholar Services Severe Economic Hardship Employment

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 caused 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, email 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
    • Passport with F-1 visa
    • Current I-94 record indicating F-1 status
    • Current and all previous I-20s 
    • Copies of previous employment authorization documents (if applicable)

      While ISSS is reviewing your application, please prepare 2 new passport sized photos and a Cashier's Check, Personal Check or Money Order for $410.00 (payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Here is a guide
  3. ISSS will review your request within 3-5 business days and contact you back if more information is needed.

    When your new I-20 is ready, ISSS will email it to your official AU email address along with mailing instructions to send your complete packet to USCIS.  

    USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of your new I-20 issuance date. If not received within 30 days, your application will be denied and appeal is not possible.Please include a Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, in your Severe Economic Hardship packet to receive a text or email message from USCIS after they accept your application for processing.

  4. Mail your complete application to USCIS within 30 days.