Economic Hardship

F-1 student may request off-campus work authorization based on unforeseen and severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control if other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient.  This work authorization is issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  

Applicants must complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and request an I-20 with Economic Hardship recommendation.  The standard processing time for Form I-765 is 90 - 120 days or longer. There is also a filling fee.

These unforeseen and severe circumstances may include:

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student;
  • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or in the exchange rate;
  • Unusually high increases in tuition and/or living expenses;
  • Unusually high medical bills;
  • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

You are eligible to apply for employment based on unforeseen and severe economic hardship if you:

  • Have been in F-1 status for one full academic year;
  • In good academic standing (2.0 GPA for undergraduates/3.0 GPA for graduates) and demonstrate that the employment will not interfere with you carrying a full course of study;
  • Make a good faith effort to locate employment on-campus before applying for employment based on economic hardship.

The student is not required to have a job offer before applying for this type of employment authorization, and the job is not restricted to student's field of study/major. 

Economic hardship permission does not affect OPT.  The application fee for Economic Hardship is $410.

Application Procedures

Step 1

Please contact OIP so an advisor may evaluate your situation to make certain that you meet the eligibility requirements for this type of employment authorization. To apply, call the OIP front desk to schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor.  Please remember to bring ALL of the following documents with you to your appointment:

  1. Completed & Signed Form I-765 (We strongly advise students to type I-765 instead of filling out by hand);
  2. Original or photocopy of your most current I-20;
  3. Photocopy of the identification page(s) in your passport (must include name, current expiration date, and photo);
  4. I-94 admissions verification printout from;
  5. Two 2" by 2" US Passport Style Photographs. Write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo;
  6. Your letter of Explanation;
  7. Official transcripts verifying that you are currently carrying a full course of study;
  8. Evidence/supporting documentation which prove:
    a. Acceptance of employment will not interfere with you carrying a full course of study;
    b. The employment is necessary to avoid sever economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstance beyond your control, and
    c. On-campus employment unavailable or is not sufficient to meet the needs that have arisen due to the unforeseen circumstances.
  9. Photocopies of your previous EAD(s) if any.
  10. Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance if you would like to receive a receipt notification of your application electronically either via email or text.

Step 2

  1. An Economic hardship I-20 will be issued. The start and end date of your requested authorization period will be printed on the 2nd page;
  2. Pick up your I-765 application, other application materials, and new I-20 at the OIP front desk within 5 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) or after OIP contacts you;  
  3. Be sure to read the cover letter from OIP. The letter contains a list of things you need to mail to USCIS; 
  4. Sign your I-20 photocopy with a blue pen and insert the check for application fee (made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”).  The application fee is $410;
  5. Send your application to the USCIS by USPS Priority mail.

Address for USPS deliveries:

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Address for private courier (non USPS) deliveries:

Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Application deadline: The USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued. The issue date is located next to the Adviser's signature on Page 1 of the OPT I-20. Please account for mailing time.

Application Processing Time

Form I-797C, Notice of Action from the USCIS should arrive at the address indicated on the I-765 within 2-4 weeks.  Your permission to begin employment is not finalized until you have received an "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD) from the USCIS. The EAD will have your photograph and will also indicate the exact dates of your authorized employment. You cannot begin your employment until you have received your EAD from USCIS and the EAD is valid. Under this authorization students may work part-time (20 hours/week or less) while school is in session; full-time during holidays or school vacations.

A Note of Caution

Economic hardship employment authorization will only be granted for a maximum of 12 months or up to your expected date of graduation (whichever is less). If you are still experiencing economic hardship, have not yet graduated, and wish to extend your work authorization, you will need to apply once again following the instructions above.  The authorization can be renewed only if you are maintaining your full-time status and in good academic standing. The authorization is automatically terminated if you fail to maintain your full-time student status, if you are no longer in good academic standing, or if you transfer to another school.

The information contained in this website is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees and administrators of San Francisco State University, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither San Francisco State University nor the Office of International Programs is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Last Updated: June 2019