Economic Hardship Work Authorization

Economic Hardship employment authorization is permission granted to F-1 students by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work off-campus due to specific economic hardship criteria.


Economic Hardship employment authorization is permission granted to F-1 students by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work off-campus on the basis of “severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control” [8CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(c)]. 

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for Economic Hardship employment authorization, you must document that:

  • You have been in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (two semesters). 
  • You are experiencing economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances (see below) that arose after you obtained F-1 status. 
  • You are currently in good academic standing and are carrying a full course load. 
    • Part-time Canadian border commuter students are not eligible for Economic Hardship work authorization. 
  • Employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient. 
  • Acceptance of employment will not interfere with your full-time study.

Defining “Unforeseen Circumstances”

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment resulting from circumstances beyond the student’s control 
  • Substantial fluctuations in the exchange rate or value of home country’s currency 
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s financial sponsor 
  • Unexpected medical bills 
  • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

Application Process

Important Reminders

  • Economic Hardship Employment Authorization is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during school breaks. 
  • Economic Hardship employment authorization is normally issued for one year. You may submit a request to the USCIS for renewal of work authorization by following the same procedures outlined above. The earliest you may request a renewal is 180 days before your current EAD expires. Please remember to send a copy of your current EAD along with the other documents listed above to the USCIS. 
  • Employment authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, transfer to another university or violate your F-1 status in any way (e.g. not registering as a full-time student).