Severe Economic Hardship

Off-Campus Work Authorization

This benefit is provided by USCIS, and allows the successful F-1 student applicant a year of off-campus work authorization. Severe Economic Hardship-based employment does not have to be in the student’s field of study, but is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. The student may work full-time however during all official school breaks. Full-time enrollment must be maintained during the fall and spring semesters.

This information is provided by the UT Tyler International Student Services and is not intended as legal advice. For legal issues, please consult an immigration attorney.

Severe Economic Hardship is a work authorization for students who are experiencing severe financial difficulties caused by circumstances beyond their control that occurred after obtaining F-1 status. Some examples of circumstances beyond the student’s control:

  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s sponsor.
  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment if the loss is not the student’s fault.
  • Unexpected medical bills in the U.S. not covered by insurance.
  • Large increases in tuition or living costs.
  • A substantial fluctuation of currency in the student’s home country.

  • Full-time enrolled in a Homeland Security-approved school for at least one academic year (fall + spring or spring + fall)
  • Valid F-1 status
  • Good academic standing
  • Unavailable or insufficient on-campus employment to meet the student’s financial needs
  • Sufficient evidence that employment is necessary due to a severe economic hardship
  • The student must remain enrolled in a full course of study while on Economic Hardship.

Submit to your international advisor (

Gather the following documents so they are ready to send once you have a recommendation from an ISS advisor.

  • Two passport photos
  • A check for the USCIS application fee ($410 ) or application for fee waiver (I-912 from
  • Original I-765 form
  • Copy of Economic Hardship I-20. The I-20 issue date must be less than 30 days old.
  • Student letter explaining the need for Economic Hardship work authorization
  • Copy of passport ID/data page
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Copy of previously issued EAD cards, if applicable.
  • Budget for the coming year, including the approximate amount of money needed to meet student‘s financial obligations
  • Optional additional evidence

  • Submit all required documents to your international advisor.
  • If the application is complete, your advisor will issue an Economic Hardship I-20
  • Mail the application to USCIS with a check for the USCIS application fee.
  • The student will receive a receipt notice from USCIS within 2-3 weeks after mailing the application.
  • Approval can take 2-4 months. If approved, the student will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

  • Approval of Economic Hardship allows the student to work off-campus in a job that is not related to the student’s course of study.
  • Work is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session but can be full-time during official school breaks.
  • The student is not authorized to work until the EAD card is received.

  • Economic Hardship is granted for one year or until the student’s program end date.
  • Approval for Economic Hardship can be renewed. If applying for a renewal, the student must repeat the same application process and show a new unforeseen circumstance or explain why the same unforeseen circumstance continues.
  • If the student transfers to another school, the Economic Hardship authorization ends on the SEVIS release date.