Office of International Affairs International Student & Scholar Services

F-1 Student Employment based on Economic Hardship

F-1 students in financial distress may be able to apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for off-campus employment authorization under certain economic circumstances.  Such employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session (students must continue to be enrolled full-time) but can be full-time during other periods.  Authorization is granted for up to one year at a time.  Extensions require a new application.
To be eligible the economic hardship must be caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control and must occur after the student obtained F-1 status.  Examples of possible situations include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in currency exchange rates, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living expenses, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, or substantial and unexpected expenses which are beyond the control of the student.  Extensive documentation is required.  The student must have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year.  
Although the Economic Hardship program is intended to assist students in financial distress, the time involved in processing requests makes it ineffective in dealing with immediate financial emergencies.  Applicants should expect DHS processing to take at least 60 to 120 days or more.  If granted, employment authorization is given on an EAD card, DHS form I-766.  Employment cannot begin until the card is received from DHS.  Employment authorization is automatically terminated if the student fails to maintain F-1 status, completes the degree program, or transfers to another University. 

Application Procedures:
1) Complete a form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization” showing “(c)(3)(iii)” in item 16. (Form available on USCIS web page)
2) Provide a copy of any previously issued EAD cards.
3) Two color passport photos taken within the last thirty days.  Photo standards are available from the U.S. Department of State at
4) Copy of front and back of form I-94, “Departure Record.”
5) Obtain an International Student Counselor’s recommendation on your I-20
6) Document the circumstances causing the economic need and the fact that cause was beyond the control of the student.  This should include a written statement from the student describing the unforeseen hardship and explaining why other employment options are unavailable or insufficient.  The statement should include the initial arrival date in the U.S. in F-1 status, and affirmation that you have properly maintained F-1 status, that you have not worked without authorization and that employment will not interfere with enrollment as a full-time student.    
7) A $340 check or money order payable to “Department of Homeland Security”

Revised: 6/2011

Texas Tech University Office of International Affairs, MS 5004, 742-2974, fax 742-1286