Economic Hardship

F-1 students cannot be employed off-campus unless they meet very restricted guidelines. However, if a student demonstrates “severe economic hardship” due to unforeseen circumstances, they may qualify for approved off-campus employment (OCE). This kind of authorization is evaluated on a yearly basis, meaning a student must apply for Economic Hardship every year.

The USCIS must approve such employment, taking approximately three to four months to process. Authorization must be obtained in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which must be accompanied by a fee of $380 dollars. The regulations require that the student make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus before applying for employment authorization based on economic hardship.

An example of unforeseen circumstances which may cause economic hardship may include the 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 rates, significant increase in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of a student’s sponsor, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses. Employment authorization is automatically terminated when a student fails to maintain status. Students may work for an employer at any job, anywhere in the United States.

A job offer is NOT required in advance of obtaining employment authorization.

You must:

  • Have maintained lawful F-1 status for nine consecutive months
  • Have been enrolled in a full-course of study (minimum of 12 credits per term)
  • Show proof that unforeseen circumstances have occurred that have made it impossible for yoursponsor to continue complete support in the form of a statement of assets, income and expenses
  • Show that you are unable to secure sufficient on-campus employment to meet your needs