F-1 Economic Hardship

Student Eligibility Requirements
According to immigration regulations if other employment opportunities are not available or otherwise insufficient, F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work authorization if economic hardship has been caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the student (parent or sponsor) that arose only after arriving in the U.S. These 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 exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
 
Students must meet the following requirements:
  • Have been in legal F-1 status for a minimum of one full academic year.
  • Have a GPA of “C” or better for undergraduates or “B” or better for graduates.
  • Be currently registered full time (12 credits for undergraduates, 9 credits for graduates) during the spring and fall semesters or pre-registered (full time for the following term) during vacations.
 
Students must:
  • Have a statement from the Financial Aid Office indicating that on-campus employment is not available or is insufficient.
  • Write a letter addressed to USCIS detailing the unforeseen circumstances causing the economic hardship. Include information on your original source of support.
  • Provide an expenses/income work-sheet and other proof specific to the cause of the economic hardship.
  • Demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with carrying a full course load.
 
Application Procedure
Students must apply to USCIS on form I-765 for permission to accept employment. All required documentation should be mailed to the following address along with the $380 filing fee with a check made out to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
 
            USCIS
            ATTN: AOS
            2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business
            Suite 400
            Lewisville, TX 75067
Required Documentation:
  1. I-20 form indicating Economic Hardship Employment request.
  2. Photocopy of both sides of all I-20 forms that you have.
  3. Photocopy of both sides of I-94 card.
  4. Photocopy from passport: photo, personal information page, and expiration date.
  5. Letter detailing your specific circumstances and any additional documentation of financial hardship.
  6. Two identical color passport style photographs.
  7. Completed I-765 form
The USCIS will make a decision on your application, usually within 2 - 3 months.
 
Limitation
You are limited to 20 hours of work per week while school is in session. This limit includes any other form of employment you may already have, such as an assistantship, internship, co-op, or on-campus employment. You must be simultaneously enrolled full-time during the spring and fall semesters. Employment may be full time during vacations. Employment authorization is given in intervals of up to one year, and terminates if you fail to maintain legal F-1 status or if you transfer schools. You may apply for this employment category each year as long as you continue to demonstrate need. Employment based on economic hardship will not count against your eligibility for Optional Practical Training.
 
YOU MAY NOT BEGIN EMPLOYMENT UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE USCIS.
 
The USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) if your request is approved. If your application is not approved, the application fee is non-refundable and there is no appeal.
 
A Note of Caution
Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of your status and is a deportable offense.  It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to comply with all Immigration regulations that apply to F-1 students.

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