Severe Economic Hardship


Severe economic hardship employment provides students who have experienced a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship since obtaining F-1 status the opportunity to obtain off-campus employment authorization. What constitutes a legitimate and unforeseen economic hardship is debatable. Some examples include:

  • Loss of on-campus employment
  • Unexpected loss of a scholarship
  • Serious currency devaluation when the funds come from abroad
  • Unexpected tuition and fee increases
  • Medical bills
  • Burglary or robbery (with a police report)
  • Substantial increases in living costs
  • Disruption of a sponsor’s income
  • Death of a sponsor, etc.

The change in your financial situation must be unforeseen and through no fault of your own. All reasons must be verified with supporting documentation. For example, if you lost departmental funding, a letter must be supplied from the department describing what funding has been lost and that it was through no fault of your own.

You will need to document to International Student Services your “severe” and “unforeseen” economic hardship. If ISS determines the circumstances to be severe and unforeseen, we will recommend to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approval of your application for a work permit. Authorization is ultimately granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If granted, the work permit is valid for part-time employment (20 hours a week or less while school is in session) and full-time during scheduled breaks. Off-campus employment does not affect eligibility for Optional Practical Training.


  • Must have been in valid F-1 status and attended full-time for one academic year (a fall and spring semester).
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must sufficiently document that that the economic hardship is severe, unforeseen, and through no fault of your own.
  • Must sufficiently document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet financial needs.

How to Apply

  1. Submit the Severe Economic Hardship Request Form.
  2. Prepare application documents electronically (do not sign electronically – ISS will print original forms for your signature):
    • A letter written by the student describing the severe economic hardship and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient
    • Supporting evidence to document the economic hardship (i.e., department letter explaining loss of funding, medical bills, etc.)
    • Form G-1450, if paying the filing fee by credit card
    • Form G-1145
    • Form I-765 (#27 – Eligibility Category – (c)(3)(iii))
    • Copy of passport
    • Copy of visa
    • Copy of I-94 
    • Copies of any previous EAD cards, if applicable
    • Two passport sized photos
    • eShipGlobal shipping label to send documents to USCIS – See USCIS Shipping Instructions
  3. After submitting the Severe Economic Hardship Request Form, you will receive a Request for Information (RFI) email. Reply to the RFI email, attach all application documents, and send. PLEASE do not include additional email addresses when responding to the RFI. All RFI documentation should be submitted to
  4. Wait for a response from the Office of International Student Services. Review and processing times may vary from 3-7 days. If additional information or corrections to the submitted forms is needed, you will receive an additional RFI email stating the information needed. You will receive an email once a decision is made on your application.
  5. If your application is approved, the Office of International Student Services will print all application materials as well as 2 original I-20s recommending off-campus employment. You should arrange to pick-up your application materials from the Welcome Center or pay for shipping to receive your application materials (see UEMS Student Guide for instructions).
  6. Once you receive your application materials, you must:
    • Review all documents, forms, and I-20’s for accuracy and completeness
    • Sign letter, Forms G-1450 (if paying by credit card), I-765, and I-20’s
    • Include 2 original passport photos
    • If paying by cashier’s check, include with application materials
  7. Use the label to ship to the USCIS Lockbox.
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After You Apply to USCIS

Be sure to track your shipment to USCIS through your UEMS eShipGlobal account.  If the case is not delivered to USCIS in a timely manner, please notify the Office of International Student Services at

Within 7-10 days after delivery, you will receive an email or text message with a case number which can be used to Check the Status of Your Case Online. USCIS processing times may vary from 1.5 to 5 months. You must NOT begin working until the start date on the EAD card, if approved. If your case is denied, you will receive a denial notice.

Within 7-10 days after receiving the email or text message, you will be sent a paper receipt notice from USCIS via regular mail.  If you indicated the Office of International Student Services as your mailing address, we will email you once mail is received.  USCIS mail will not be forwarded and must be picked up in-person or received via shipping through UEMS eShip Global.

Additional Resources

We do encourage all students who are facing hardships to reach out to the Office of Student Affairs and The Office of Advocacy and Support  to provide additional support and resources, as available.  Students facing economic hardship are also strongly encouraged to reach out to the Counseling Center  as needed.


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