There is a procedure available for F-1 students to obtain authorization to be employed off-campus due to unforeseen economic necessity in accordance with 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(9)(ii).
In order to qualify for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization, students must fit the following criteria:
- Student has been in F-1 status for one full academic year
- Student is in good academic standing
- Student must demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with their full course of study
- Student must demonstrate that employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control
- Student must demonstrate that other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient
- Student must apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS, and receive EAD before employment begins
What is “severe economic hardship”?
To qualify for receiving off-campus work authorization for economic hardship, a student must demonstrate that employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.
According to 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(9)(ii) these circumstances may include, “loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.”
Conditions of Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
Hours Per Week
While school is in session, students may work up to 20 hours per week. Students may work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) during holidays or school vacation.
Although this type of work authorization was designed for off-campus work, there is no restriction for on-campus work.
Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization is granted in increments of one year at a time, or until the student’s program end date. The student may not start working until they receive the EAD. Authorization ends if student transfers to another school. Students may reapply every year until their program end date.
Field/Level of Work
Students with Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization may work in any job. It does not need to be related to their course of study.
Effect on other Work
As long as the work does not exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session, Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization does not affect other types of work authorization, including CPT and OPT.
How to apply for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization
- Notify Designated School Official (International Student Advisor) about applying for economic hardship work authorization, including a request for the desired start date for work authorization
- Documentation needed to apply:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the code: “(c)(3)(iii)” under item 16.
- Letter from the student, which explains the circumstances causing economic necessity as well as an explanation of why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient (see sample letter)
- Supporting documentation, such as a letter from home which explains the change in financial circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student’s country.
- Copy of student’s Form I-94 (printed from I-94 website)
- Copy of the ID pages from the student’s passport
- Copy of any previously issued EAD (If applicable)
- Two (2) passport photos, which have been taken no more than 30 days prior to filing the Form I-765 (these photos can be taken at The Connection)
- Check or money order for the $410 I-765 fee (see USCIS guidance for fee payment or waiver)
- Updated Form I-20 from DSO/ISA, which includes a recommendation for off-campus work authorization on Page 2.
- (Optional) Letter from the DSO, which summarizes and verifies student’s financial situation, and supports the application
Submitting your Economic Hardship Employment Authorization application to USCIS
Mail applications with Form I-765 and all other materials mentioned above to the USCIS Lockbox Facility with jurisdiction over the student’s place of residence.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
Overnight/Courier Deliveries (non-USPS, FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.)
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034