Severe Economic Hardship

Individuals who obtain an F-1 visa to study in the United States are expected to be able to support themselves financially. F-1 visa holders will need to prove their financial ability in order to get the I-20 and approval for the F-1 visa. 

 F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for a minimum of one year and who experience unexpected, uncontrollable changes in their economic situation can apply for a temporary, part-time work permit for off-campus employment during their studies. This application is through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and, if approved, will result in a special work permit based on severe economic hardship. 

This work permit allows the student to accept off-campus employment. The student will be limited to working 20 hours a week while school is in session, but the student can work over 20 hours a week during the summer term and official campus holidays. 


In order to qualify for a work permit based on severe economic hardship, you will need to show USCIS that you:

  • Have already completed a full academic year of study in F-1 status
  • Are in good academic standing
  • Have experienced unforeseen changes in your financial situation that were out of your control 
  • Cannot obtain suitable or on-campus employment to meet your new need.

How to Apply

Schedule an appointment with an ISS advisor by emailing You will then need to complete the application and required documentation to send to USCIS. Required documentation includes:

  • Form I-765 (
  • $410 Application Fee (this fee will not be refunded if you are rejected)
  • Photocopy of the I-20
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Photocopy of the I-94 card
  • A statement outlining your financial troubles and an explanation for why on-campus employment opportunities are insufficient
  • Photocopy of the passport identification page
  • Photocopy of the visa page
  • Photocopies of previous EAD cards that you were issued