Big Data

F-1 Economic Hardship

Approved by USCIS based on unforeseen severe economic hardship

Under approved, economic hardship, employment can be in any job off-campus and does not have to be related to your major course of study.

Employment under F-1 economic hardship


Off-campus employment that is approved by USCIS based on unforeseen severe economic hardship.

  • Employment can be in any job and does not have to be related to your major
  • Granted by USCIS in 1-year increments or up to the I-20 program end date whichever is shorter
  • Students must reapply at least 90 days but not more than 6 months before their current authorization expires each year to renew work authorization
  • Work authorization ends if you transfer schools
  • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session
  • Can work full-time during official school breaks
  • Do not need an offer of employment to apply
  • Must receive EAD before you start work


  • Must have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year (equivalent of 3 quarters)
  • Good academic standing
  • Must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control that arose after obtaining F-1 status


Document the circumstances causing economic need.

  • Write a statement describing your unforeseen hardship situation
  • State that you have looked for on-campus employment and it is not available or sufficient to solve your financial hardship
  • Attach as much back-up documentation to strengthen your application
  • Examples:
    1. Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support
    2. Proof of your home country currency devaluation or exchange rate
    3. Loss of on-campus employment
    4. Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
    5. Medical bills
    6. Other substantial and unexpected expenses
    7. Include a sample budget of your expenses and funding to show the gap
    8. The gap should not be so large that even working off campus would not help

How to Apply

  1. Complete I-765 Form
    • Download Form I-765. (Save it so you can fill it in on your computer. This is preferable to completing it by hand.)
    • Additional Form I-765 instructions
    • Sign with black ink. If filling out by hand, be sure to use black ink.
    • Check the box indicating that you are applying for permission to accept employment, and complete items 1-16.
    • The address on line 3 should be a permanent residence where you want the EAD mailed. Keep in mind it will be mailed in 3-5 months. If you want it to be mailed outside California be sure to mention this at your OPT appointment as this determines the application mailing address.
    • On line 16, fill in (c) (3) (iii)
    • If you have any questions when filling out the form email Judy Mitchell for assistance.
  2. Complete G-1145 Form
  3. Attach documentation of economic need (described above)
  4. Attach two photos (follow photo instructions)
  5. Attach check for $410* made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” See Note below
  6. Bring the above items to your appointment with Judy
  7. Mail to USCIS California Service Center (ask Judy for address)

Note: USCIS had planned a fee increase to $550 effective October 2nd, 2020. On September 29th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing the fee change. Before making your payment, be sure to visit USCIS for the current fee information.

Email Judy Mitchell for assistance in applying.