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Economic Hardship

What is Economic Hardship?

Economic hardship is defined as a financial crisis that prevents an international student in valid F-1 status from meeting their overall expenses while pursuing their studies in the U.S. An example of such unforeseen circumstances: substantial fluctuations in the value of the currency or exchange rates, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the sponsor, medical bills, etc.

A student approved for economic hardship work authorization cannot work more than 20 hours a week when school is in session (fall and spring semesters).  

You must consult with an advisor in the OIA before submitting a request to USCIS. Compiling the supporting documents for this work authorization can take considerable time.


  • Full time registration and in good academic standing for a least one academic year
  • Demonstrate that on-campus employment is not available or is insufficient
  • Demonstrate that part-time off-campus employment will not interfere with studies
  • Evidence of the claimed unforeseen circumstances causing the economic hardship

Documents Required

  1. A personal check or money order for $410; make payable to USCIS
  2. Two passport style photos on a white/light background
  3. Photocopies of all I-20s from every school you’ve attended in the USA (including high school, ESL, other U.S. institution, etc.)
  4. Photocopy of your unexpired passport (must be valid six months into the future)
  5. Photocopy of I-94 record. If you don’t have a paper I-94 card, download your most recent I-94 record from:
  6. Photocopy of F-1 entry visa
  7. OPT Cover Letter
  8. Completed Form I-765
  9. Student Information Form
  10. A letter signed by your Chair / Academic Advisor to confirm your progress in your program of study
  11. Letter explaining the circumstances of your economic hardship
  12. Supporting documentation to prove what you’ve explained in your letter
  13. Recommendation I-20 for Economic Hardship (this can only be issued by OIA and is done after review of all your documentation)