Unexpected Financial Difficulties
Unfortunately, hardships sometimes arise for students after they begin their schooling. Perhaps a parent loses their job, a sponsor’s business is destroyed due to natural disaster, or currency exchange rates collapse in your home country due to political turmoil. If your financial support has been affected by such an event, you may qualify for certain benefits.
Similar provisions are available to students in J-1 status, who may be eligible to request work permission due to serious unforeseen economic hardship.
Severe Economic Hardship for F-1 Students
When you apply for Severe Economic Hardship work authorization, you are applying for work permission that is reviewed and adjudicated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). You apply by filing an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the appropriate filing fee and documentation. Filing the application is not a guarantee of approval, and processing time does apply. While processing times vary for each application, these applications generally take 3 – 5 months for approval.
To be eligible to apply for Severe Economic Hardship work authorization, you must:
- Have been in F-1 status for one full academic year (9 consecutive months);
- Be in good standing as a student and be carrying a full course of study;
- Demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with your full-time study; and
- Demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, and that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.
- To apply, you must meet with your ISSO Advisor and receive a new I-20 with a Severe Economic Hardship endorsement on it.
After Severe Economic Hardship is granted, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for up to one year at a time (part-time up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full time during the summer or official university breaks). However, you must continue to maintain a full-course of study. Work permission becomes invalid as soon as you interrupt or complete your academic program, if you are suspended or withdraw from school, or if you in any way violate your F-1 status.
Severe Economic Hardship for J-1 Students
If you have experienced unexpected financial hardship you may be eligible to request work permission from your ISSO advisor to allow you to work off-campus while you continue your program of study.
If your economic hardship is based on a humanitarian, political, or natural disaster, you may also wish to research whether the USCIS has set up Special Student Relief or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for your country of citizenship or nationality.
If you qualify for more than one of the benefits listed above, you may wish to speak to an ISSO advisor or an immigration attorney to determine which option best suits your specific case.