Economic Hardship

Economic Hardship

If you are suffering an economic hardship due to unforeseen financial circumstances, you may apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization to work off-campus.

Examples of unforeseen circumstances:

  • Loss of financial support or on-campus employment
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support, such a loss of a family business
  • Excessive medical bills


  • You have been in F-1 status, and enrolled full-time, for at least one academic year
  • You are in good academic standing 
  • You must document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable/insufficient to meet your financial needs
  • You must be able to provide documentation to prove your severe economic hardship 

Documents Required/How to Apply:

  • Request economic hardship support from International Services Advisor. The Advisor will then provide you with a new I-20 that will show proof of support for work authorization on page 2 of your I-20.
  • Complete the I-765. Please be sure to write "(c)(3)(iii)" in Section 16
  • Prepare a check or money order for $410 payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Obtain two passport quality color photographs (take within the last 30 days). Photos should be 2x2 inches
  • Print your most recent I-94
  • Write a detailed letter describing your financial difficulties and your efforts to secure employment. Supplemental documentation such a sponsor/parent letters explaining financial hardship, news articles describing financial state of home country, etc. are highly encouraged. 
  • Make a photocopy of passport ID page
  • Make a photocopy of visa
  • Make photocopies of previous I-20s
  • Prepare Financial Hardship Packet with all documentation listed above and mail to: 
    • USCIS
      P.O. Box 805373
      Chicago, IL 60680

Things to Remember:

  • Work authorization due to financial hardship is granted up to one calendar year at a time. 
  • If approved, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours/week while enrolled full-time.
  • If approved, you are allowed to work up to 40 hours/week while on an approved vacation term. 
  • Employment Authorization due to economic hardship is automatically terminated if you graduate, transfer to another university, or otherwise fail to maintain F-1 status, 
  • It typically takes 3-4 months for approval from DHS.