Severe Economic Hardship Employment for F-1 Students​​


If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control. These circumstances may include a 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, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]


Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible to apply for employment based on severe economic hardship if:

  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year, at least nine months
  • You are in good academic standing and are taking a full course load
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies
  • You can demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control

Documentation Needed to Apply

  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, attach backup documentation; for example, news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc.
  • Completed Form I​-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • Copy of your unofficial transcript ​

How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship Employment

  1. Schedule an appointment with the Asst. Director of Immigration, and bring the documents listed in to your appointment.
  2. Your documents will be reviewed within 3-5 business days.
  3. If you are deemed eligible to apply for severe economic hardship, the economic hardship request will be made in SEVIS electronically, and a new SEVIS I-20 will be generated. The recommendation will be written on page 2 of the new I-20.
  4. You will be notified by email you when your new I-20 is available.
  5. Bring your UF ID to pick up your new I-20 from the office of International Admissions.
  6. Sign your name on the I-20 immediately.
  7. Send your application packet to USCIS. Refer to Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Request Application to USCIS below.​


Submitting Your Severe Economic Hardship Application to USCIS

Once you have requested a Severe Economic Hardship Employment recommendation and received your new I-20, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

  • A copy of the new I-20 with employment recommendation
  • Copies of your previous I-20(s)
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions)
  • Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • Form I-765
  • Processing fee (personal check or money order made out to USCIS); for the most current fee information visit and scroll to “Forms and E-Filing" Information is also found in Part 4, Fee of Form I-765
  • Two full-face passport style photos. The photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed to USCIS. Put photos in an envelope. You should attach the fee and the photo envelope on top of the entire application (on the upper left-hand corner). Please do not staple the fee and the photos.
  • The personal statement along with any other supporting documents, if available.
  • If applying for renewal of work authorization, the student must include photocopies of all previous issued EADs.


Mailing to USCIS

Make a copy of all documents for your records and mail the application pack to USCIS Lockbox for Ohio packet by FedEx, UPS or DHL. Do not send any original documents to USCIS, only copies. See address below:

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034


Employment Authorization Card (EAD)

If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing.  The adjudication process can take 90-120 days or longer to complete.

You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD and the dates are valid. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You may work part time while school is in session and full time during official university holidays.


Employment Guidelines

  • This authorization allows students to work off-campus up to 20 hours per week when classes are in session, and over 20 hours per week (full-time) during semester breaks.
  • The employment is not required to be related to their course of study.
  • An offer of employment is not required to apply.
  • Use of this category of employment does not count towards the 20-hour on-campus maximum, nor does it affect eligibility for practical training.
  • Students using this authorization must still be registered as full-time.
  • Work authorization will end if a student transfers schools.​​