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International Student and Scholar Services


Economic Hardship--F-1 Students

An employment authorization for economic hardship may be given when unforeseen 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.

Students may apply for renewals of the work authorization if conditions have not improved. 

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
  • You have not completed all of your degree requirements

Unforeseen 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) for review:

  • Document Request Form
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • Letter explaining your situation
  • Documentation supporting your case
  • Copy of your DU I-20 recommending economic hardship (issued by ISSS)
  • Photocopy of your F-1 visa
  • Photocopy of your passport ID page, including any extension or renewal pages
  • Photocopy of your I-94 Arrival/Departure form
  • Two passport-style photos
  • Personal check or money order for $410 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver
  • Letter from ISSS
  • Copy of transcripts

NOTE : The required fee increases to $550 on October 2, 2020. 

NOTE : USCIS is updating Form I-765. The edition of the form that you must submit depends on the date it is postmarked

Any application that is postmarked on or after August 25, 2020   MUST use the Form I-765 that has the date 08/25/20 printed in the lower left corner of each page.  

Any application that is postmarked on or after October 2, 2020  MUST use the Form I-765 that has the date 10/02/2020 printed in the lower left corner of each page. More Details

If you are unsure if you have the latest form, download it directly from USCIS.

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.