Severe Economic Hardship

Severe Economic Hardship is new, unexpected circumstances beyond your control creating severe economic hardship. These may include: 

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if you are not at fault) 
  • Devaluation of the currency you depend upon to pay expenses 
  • Unexpected changes to your sources of financial support 
  • Unexpected large medical bills  
  • Other substantial, unexpected expenses 

The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time. The authorization allows you to work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while you are registered full-time. You may work more than 20 hours per week during breaks and summer. Economic Hardship employment authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, fall out of status, or transfer to a new school. This employment will not affect your OPT.  

Eligibility Requirements: 

You must have remained enrolled for at least one academic year. You must be in valid F-1 status, in good academic standing, and enrolled in a full course of study. You must be able to show that working will not adversely impact your ability to attend school full-time and maintain academic standing. You must show evidence that severed economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances is beyond your control. 

Required Application Documents: 

STEP ONE: Complete the Severe Economic Hardship FORM and prepare the documents listed below before meeting with your immigration adviser.  

  1. Form G-1145
  2. Form I-765 
    • Please note some new changes with the new I-765 form. You need to complete the page 7 and list all of your previous CPTs, OPTs, Economic Hardships and SEVIS numbers (if prior SEVIS numbers). Please see the Form I-765 FAQ: Severe Economic Hardship guide. 
  3. Filing Fee payable to US Department of Homeland Security
  4. Two (2) new passport style photographs, in color, with I-94 and full name written on back
  5. Copy of valid passport page 
  6. Copy of visa
  7. Copy of your I-94 record
  8. Copy of any previous EAD's (front and back)
  9. A 1-page letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient; including supporting evident

STEP TWO: Set up a meeting with your immigration advisor. Bring documents 1-9 with you to the appointment. Your immigration advisor will prepare the following documents for you:

  1. SEVIS event history print out
  2. DSO statement of support
  3. I-20 with Severe Economic Hardship work authorization recommendation
    • You will sign and date it. 
    • You will send a copy of the I-20 and keep the original.
STEP THREE: After going through the entire Severe Economic Hardship work authorization packet with your immigration advisor, package the following documents into a legal-sized envelop:
  • Step 1 documents 1-9
  • Step 2 documents 1-3

STEP FOUR: Send the package to USCIS. REMEMBER:

  • You are responsible for sending all items of your OPT application to the USCIS. 
  • Find the appropriate Lockbox to send your OPT application on the USCIS website.
  • You MUST send the package within 30 days of the processing date on your I-20 with DSO recommendation.

NOTE: Application processing average time is 90 days. Do not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).