Students experiencing loss of financial support, devaluation of your country's currency or exchange rate, or unexpected change in financial conditions can discuss employment based on severe economic hardship with their Educational Advisor.

Who qualifies for Employment under Severe Economic Hardship?

An 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 support, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, or unexpected change in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected experiences.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Have been lawfully enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year
  • Are in good academic standing 
  • Must show proof that employment is necessary because of unforeseen economic hardship and circumstances are beyond the student's control

Required Documents

  • ISC’s Economic Hardship Request. This is only for ISC
  • Form I-765
    • Student must type and sign the form, and mail it in.
    • You cannot submit this form online if applying for off-campus work under severe economic hardship 
    • Instructions on how to complete the I-765 are listed here
  • Form G-1145
  • Recent I-94 admission record
  • Copy of all the I-20s you have received, including the last I-20 you will receive from ISC when submitting this request
    • Ensure all your I-20s are signed before making a copy
  • Copy of passport picture page
  • Copy of F-1 visa or I-797 Approval Notice for F-1 if you changed status in the U.S.
  • Copy of previously issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (if applicable)
  • Application fee to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Two identical U.S. passport-style color photos taken within 30 days of application
    • Write down your name and I-94 number in pencil on back of the photos
    • Put your application fee money order and passport photos in a plastic bag when mailing the application to USCIS
  • A personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship and why on-campus employment is unavailable or insufficient

Additional Recommended Documents

  • Evidence showing loss of financial assistance
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of your country’s currency or in the exchange rate
  • Unusually high medical bills
  • Unemployment claims
  • Death certificates

How to Apply

  1. Review the eligibility requirements
  2. Complete and collect all required documents 
  3. Schedule an appointment with your Educational Advisor to review your application and required documents 
    • If approved, your Educational Advisor will issue you a new I-20 with their recommendation for this request
  4. Mail application and all required and supporting documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    • Make copies of all documents before you mail them
    • USCIS's mailing address will be different depending on which mail carrier you choose
    • View the correct mailing address here. Click on the "Foreign Students" tab
    • Request tracking when you mail your documents as evidence that you submitted them

After you Apply

  • You will receive the I-797 Receipt Notice via mail approximately one month after you mail your application. Keep as evidence of submission
  • Check your application status online at Click on "Check your Case Status"
  • If after 3 months have passed without an update on your case, submit an e-Request Case Inquiry to USCIS or call the USCIS Contact Center

After You Receive Approval from USCIS

  • You will receive, by mail, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    • Review your EAD for your employment authorization period and for any errors
    • You can begin work from the start date listed on your EAD 
  • Provide a copy of your EAD to the ISC via email at 
  • Need help finding work off-campus? Schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor at the Freeman Center for Career and Completion
  • Keep in contact with your Educational Advisor for updates and/or ask questions