Off Campus Employment due to Economic Hardship

Off Campus Employment due to Severe Economic Hardship

F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year. If your financial situation changes after the first academic year (two semesters), you may apply for employment authorization from USCIS if you establish that your changed financial situation is the result of the severe economic hardship. Employment Authorization due to Sever Economic Hardship is not available to students studying at language schools (ESL programs).


What is Severe Economic Hardship?

The term “severe economic hardship” is defined as a financial condition caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control that make it difficult for a student to continue education in the United States.

Examples include: unforeseen employment changes and loss of income, foreign currency devaluation, natural disasters in student's home country, unforeseen family matters such as death or divorce, sudden illness, disability or injury.


How do I prove Severe Economic Hardship?

In  most cases, you will write a personal statement or affidavit and you will include evidence of hardship. The evidence will depend on your circumstances and what caused the hardship.


How to Apply for Employment Authorization Due to Severe Economic Hardship?

You apply for your Employment Authorization based on Severe Economic Hardship by submitting a Form I-765 to USCIS. You must include:

  • Form I-765;
  • Properly endorsed Form I-20;
  • Evidence of your severe economic hardship;
  • 2 color photographs;
  • Correct USCIS fee; and
  • Other supporting documents. 


Limits on Employment due to Severe Economic Hardship:

  • F-1 students can only work during the dates written on their Employment Authorization Cards (EAD). 
  • When school is in session, F-1 students can work maximum 20 hours per week (part-time employment);
  • When school is not in session - vacations and holidays, F-1 students can work 40 hours per week (full-time employment).


Documents for employer that show employment eligibility:

  • Employment Authorization Card (EAD).

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