Severe Economic Hardship


If you are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen changes in your financial circumstances, you may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus.

Examples of unforeseen circumstances:

  • Loss of financial support or on-campus employment
  • 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 your source of support, such a loss of a family business
  • Excessive medical bills

About authorized employment:

  • The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time.
  • The authorization allows you to work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while you are registered full-time.
  • It also allows you to work more than 20 hours per week during quarter breaks and your annual vacation quarter.
  • This employment does not affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Employment authorization is automatically terminated if you graduate, fail to maintain status, or transfer to another school.


(1) You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year;

(2)  You are in good standing as a student;

(3)  You are carrying a full course of study;

(4)  Acceptance of employment will not interfere with your carrying a full course of study;

(5)  The employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control; and

(6)  On-campus employment is unavailable or is not sufficient to meet the needs that have arisen due to the unforeseen circumstances.

How to apply

Schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor by calling 541-346-3206. After your ISSS appointment, submit a Severe Economic Hardship request at

Gather the application documents to mail to USCIS:

  • Form I-765 (write (c)(3)(iii) in item 16)
  • Form I-765 filing fee paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Photocopy of Form I-20, with your ISSS advisor’s recommendation for economic hardship employment
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back)
  • A letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient; include supporting evidence
  • Photocopy of passport identification page
  • Photocopy of visa page
  • Photocopies of any previously-issued EAD cards

After you receive your updated I-20 from ISSS, make a copy. Include the copy of your new I-20 along with the other documents listed above.

Review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct filing location.

Application processing times vary between two to four months. Do not begin working until you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Additional Filing Information

Filing Fee and Fee Waivers

The I-765 application for Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization requires a filing fee made payable by check or money order to the “US Department of Homeland Security”.

If the student is unable to pay the filing fee, the student can request a fee waiver on the basis of financial hardship. However, USCIS examines fee waivers closely and fee waivers may not be approved. If USCIS rejects a request for a fee waiver, the I-765 application packet will be returned to the student and the student will be required to re-file the application with the appropriate filing fee.

To request a fee waiver, go to and download USCIS Form I-912. Follow USCIS’s instructions for completing Form I-912. Include the completed Form I-912 instead of the filing fee with your I-765 application packet.

Documenting Severe Economic Hardship

To document unforeseen circumstances, the student must write a letter that explains

  • The nature of the unforeseen circumstances and how they led to severe financial hardship
  • The student’s good-faith efforts to find on-campus employment or other resources to assist with educational costs
  • The student’s commitment and ability to continue full-time studies

The student is also strongly recommended to attach supporting documents. Supporting documents will vary depending on the nature of the student’s financial hardship. Examples include:

  • Evidence of currency fluctuations or home country economic, civil, or political crisis (printouts from currency web sites, news articles, etc.)
  • Evidence that the student lost financial aid or on-campus employment due to no fault on the part of the student (e.g., letters, copies of emails or communications from supervisor / scholarship provider)
  • Evidence of financial sponsor’s or student’s unexpected medical bills (e.g., a letter from the financial sponsor, copies of medical or doctor bills)
  • Evidence of other events negatively affecting the student’s ability to pay for educational costs

Maintaining F-1 Status While Engaged in Severe Economic Hardship Employment

If you are approved for Severe Economic Hardship employment, you may work off-campus for any employer for the time period indicating on your Employment Authorization (EAD) card. However, during this time, you must also maintain F-1 student status.

  • Continue to enroll full-time and make normal progress toward degree completion
  • Do not work until you have received your Employment Authorization (EAD) card and until the EAD card start date has been reached.
  • Stop work once your EAD card expires, you transfer to another school, or your F-1 status ends, whichever comes first.

Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization is typically granted for up to one year or until the end of your program, whichever comes first. You may apply for renewal of this type of authorization as long as you can demonstrate that you continue to suffer from economic hardship.

Once approved for Severe Economic Hardship employment, you are not required to report your employment information to the Office of International Affairs. However, we recommend that you check in with an international student advisor to discuss your employment and work plans to ensure that you can use your benefit effectively to help you with your economic hardship.