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Economic Hardship - F-1 Students

An employment authorization for economic hardship may be given when unforseen circumstances beyond a student's control create a serious financial burden. Economic hardship authorizations are issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An economic hardship authorization permits a student to engage in off-campus employment for up to 20 hours per week. Authorizations are given in one-year increments and may be renewed as needed.

Eligibility for Economic Hardship Authorization

In general, you must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for an economic hardship authorization

  • You are currently in good academic standing and valid F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled in F-1 status for at least one academic year.
  • You have made a good faith effort to locate on-campus employment.
  • You must show that on-campus employment is insufficient to meet your current financial need.

Unforseen circumstances may include any of the following:

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment, through no fault of the student
  • Substantial fluctuations in currency exchange rates
  • Unexpected changes in your source of financial support, such as medical bills or loss of employment

Failure to acquire a research or teaching assistantship after you arrive in the United States does not qualify as a need for an economic hardship authorization. In general, eligibility is related to a change in the source of financial support originally documented in the I-20, such as family funds or scholarships.

Application Process

To apply for economic hardship, you must meet with an international student advisor to determine your eligibility for the authorization. Once an advisor has confirmed that you are eligible to apply, you will need to submit the following documents to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS):

  • Economic Hardship Recommendation Request Form
  • Document Request Form
  • Application for Employment Authorization
  • Letter explaining your situation
  • Documentation supporting your case
  • Your current original DU I-20
  • Photocopy of your F-1 visa
  • Photocopy of your passport ID page, including any extension or renewal pages
  • Photocopt of your I-94 Arrival/Departure form
  • Two passport-style photos
  • Personal check or money order for $340 made payable to the Department of Homeland Security

Tracking Your Application

USCIS will mail a receipt notice to ISSS once your application has been received. Our office will notify you when the receipt notice has been received so you may use it to check your case status online. We will also notify you once your Employment Authorization Document has been received, which will permit you to begin employment.

Renewing Employment Authorization

You may submit additional applications for economic hardship employment authorization as needed. There is no limit on how long a student may receive this authorization. Employment authorization is generally given in one-year increments.