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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 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 offer not required to apply

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 to dicsuss your eligibility.
  2. Email the following documents to ISSS:
    • A personal statement letter describing the unforseen hardship situation, explaining why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient and describing the steps taken to reduce costs. Attach supporting documetation.
    • An income and expenses worksheet indicating the estimated financial amount that will be needed to cover for their tuition and living expenses until graduation.
    • Completed Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Pettition Acceptance
    • Completed Form I-765
    • Passport with F-1 visa
    • Most current I-94 admission record
    • Current and all previous I-20s
    • Copies of previous employment authorization documents (if applicable)

      While ISSS is reviewing your applicatin, please prepare 2 new passport sized photos and a Cashier's Check, Personal Check, or Monay Order for $520.00 (payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Here is a guide.
  3. ISSS will review your request within 2 weeks and contact you back if more information is needed. 

    ISSS will issue a new I-20 with the economic hardship employment authorization recommendation and will instruct you on the next steps to mail your application packet to USCIS. 
  4. Mail your complete application to USCIS within 30 days. 

    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.