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

Inform your ISS advisor that you will be completing the Off-Campus Employment application.

Off-Campus Employment Application


Required documentation includes:

  • Form I-765 ( https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-765.pdf )
  • $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