Economic Hardship Work Authorization

If you are an F-1 student experiencing severe and unexpected financial hardship while studying in the US, you may be able to obtain off-campus employment authorization from USCIS.  This authorization allows you to work to meet some of your living expenses. Keep in mind that economic hardship employment will probably not sustain all your financial needs during your difficult time and you should not rely on this to solve your situation for the reminder of your stay at UMBC as a student.  Please note, Economic Hardship work authorization is extremely difficult to get approved, and the application should only be compiled for those in truly dire need.



To qualify for economic hardship employment, you meet the following conditions:

  • You must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year (two semesters)
  • You must be able to document the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unforeseen, unexpected and beyond your control.
  • You must maintain your status by being enrolled in school full time during the spring and fall semesters when school is in session.

Conditions & Restrictions

  • Economic hardship employment authorization cards are issued in increments of one year at a time until your date of graduation (end date on I-20).
  • If you transfer from one school to another, the work authorization expires immediately.
  • Employment is limited to 20 hours a week when school is in session (spring and fall) and full time (more than 20 hours) during official school breaks (spring break, summer session, winter break and session).
  • You are still required to maintain full-time enrollment during the semesters
  • You can seek any job and the employment does not have to be related to your course of study.
  • Economic hardship does not affect your ability to be eligible for optional practical training (OPT).

Examples of unforeseen circumstances beyond your control include:

  • Death or severe illness of the financial sponsor
  • Loss of scholarship by no fault of the student
  • Substantial inflation of home currency rate
  • Natural disaster in home country that shows family has been directly affected
  • Unexpected and severe increase in tuition, fees or living expenses
  • Unforeseen and unexpected medical expenses of a family member, such as emergency surgery

Application Process

Meet with an international student advisor to discuss whether you are eligible to apply for this benefit. Please bring any and all documentation showing proof that your financial situation necessitates applying for the economic hardship. If we determine you to be eligible to apply for economic hardship, the advisor will request a new I-20 with a recommendation for economic hardship.

Please note, the application can take up to 3 months to process.

Checklist of documents to be mailed to USCIS

  • Completed USCIS Form G-1145, to receive electronic updates on your application status
  • Completed USCIS Form I-765: Write “(c) (3) (iii)” in item 16 of Form I-765 and use an address where you can receive mail over the next three months. See link for form.
  • Copy of new I-20 issued by international advisor recommending economic hardship.
  • Check/money order for $410 only made out to the Department of Homeland Security. (Do not abbreviate)
  • 2 passport size photographs.
  • Copy of your I-94 (front and back of card, or printed record from CBP website).
  • Copy of your passport biography page (include pages of passport extensions showing passport validity).
  • Copy of your F-1 visa (even if expired).
  • Copies of ALL previous I-20’s (including previous schools).
  • Any previous EAD cards that have been issued to you.
  •  A letter written by you addressed to USCIS in which you describe in detail the circumstances that support your request for employment authorization and explaining why other employment options on campus are unavailable or insufficient.
  • Supporting documentation confirming these circumstances (for example, a letter from doctors showing that family member has undergone surgery or exchange rate data showing currency devaluation, or documentation showing a significant disaster in your country eg: newspaper clippings as well as documentation from family and letter indicating how they have been affected).  If the circumstances involve a sponsor, please also include documentation of the specific person acting as your sponsor, such as the initial letter of financial support and bank statement provided to ISSS when your I-20 was first made.

Once you have prepared all the items listed above, make a complete copy of the application for your records. Mail your application to:

For regular mail:                                        
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail, courier or tracked shipments:

Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067