ISSS - Work Authorization - Economic Hardship

Economic Hardship

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits lawful F-1 students who have suffered severe economic hardship due to unforeseen and unexpected economic circumstances to apply for work authorization.

Eligibility Requirements

You must:

  • Have valid F-1 status.
  • Have been lawfully enrolled full-time for at least one academic year.
  • Be able to continue full-time studies and maintain F-1 status while engaged in Economic Hardship Work Authorization.
  • Be able to document circumstances which led to unforeseen situation.

Documents Required by USCIS

  • Legible copies of

    • Passport ID pages
    • Latest Admission Stamp (red stamp inside passport)
    • Latest Visa
    • Front and back of I-94 (or Approval Notice with new I-94)
    • Front page and signature page of all previous Form I-20's from all schools
    • Any previously-issued Employment Authorization Documents
    • Form I-765 (Application For Work Authorization)
    • 2 passport size photos
    • $410 fee: check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security
    • A letter of explanation detailing your present situation
    • Documents to substantiate your present situation

  • Authorization

    • A new Form I-20 will be issued to you; this will be given to you and a copy should be mailed with your application to USCIS.
    • If your application is approved, you will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by USCIS.

  • Note

    • Approval is not guaranteed.
    • Economic Hardship application process is not complete until you have signed a new Form I-20.
    • It can take up to 4 months for the USCIS to process your request for Economic Hardship.
    • You are limited to 20 hours of work during the school session and 40 hours during vacation. It is illegal to begin employment until you receive an EAD, can only work within the dates specified, and can work in an area other than your field of study.
    • It is possible to re-apply for Economic Hardship after the expiration date. While on Economic Hardship, you are still in F-1 status and subject to F-1 regulations. You must remain a full time student and making good academic progress.
    • Transferring to another school voids out your EAD card.