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Students with F-1 visas are allowed to enter the United States for academic studies. They are required to show prior to entry that they will be able to afford the costs of school and living expenses and they should not plan on being allowed to work off-campus. Off-campus employment is authorized only in cases of Emergent Circumstances as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or due to Severe Economic Hardship occurring subsequent to a student’s enrollment in an academic program.

If you are suffering a severe economic hardship due to unforeseen problems with your finances, you may be eligible for off-campus employment. You must have been in F-1 status for one academic year, be in good academic standing, and document that on-campus employment opportunities or current scholarships are insufficient to meet your needs.

To apply for Severe Economic Hardship, send the following materials to USCIS:

  • Form I-765 (write (c)(3)(iii) in item 16)

  • $380 fee (make your check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

  • Photocopy of Form I-20, with a DSO’s recommendation for economic hardship employment

  • Two passport style photos

  • Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back)

  • A letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient (include supporting evidence)

  • Photocopy of passport identification page

  • Photocopy of visa page

  • Photocopies of any previously-issued EAD cards