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Severe Economic Hardship
If you, as a student, are in an unforeseen severe economic hardship situation, then you may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off-campus for 20 hours per week while school is in session. You must prove that unforeseen economic circumstances have caused a need for employment that cannot be met through on-campus work opportunities.
If you are also working on-campus, you may only work 20 hours total between the two jobs. If you have authorization, you may work full-time during official school breaks.
Work positions, under this work authorization category, are not required to be related to your field of study.
- Eligibility Requirements
- Documents Required for Economic Hardship
- Job Opportunities
- U.S. Taxes
Regulations regarding off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship may be found under 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A), (C), (D), (F).
- You must prove that unforeseen economic circumstances have caused a need for employment that cannot be met through on-campus work opportunities. If off-campus employment is approved, work authorization will end when you complete your program or transfer to another school.
- Severe economic hardship is defined as “circumstances which may include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.” 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C).
You must be able to prove that off-campus employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control. The economic hardship must have occurred after you obtained F-1 status. You are not required to have a job offer when applying for this type of work authorization.
You must meet the following requirements to be eligible to apply:
- You must be in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year (fall and spring semesters).
- You must be in good academic standing and carrying a full course of study.
- You must demonstrate that employment will not interfere with your full course of study.
- You must demonstrate that the off-campus employment is necessary to assist yu in alleviating your severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. You must also document that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen financial circumstances.
- You must receive an approved authorization of off-campus employment for economic hardship listed on your I-20 form.
- You must be approved and received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card before beginning any off-campus employment.
- USCIS will issue you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, if employment is approved. If the application is denied, you will receive a denial notice in writing. There are no options to appeal. In some situations, a motion to re-open your case may be available.
- The student may not begin employment until he or she receives the EAD card from USCIS. USCIS asks for a minimum of 90 days for processing your application.
- Meet with your International Student Advisor to discuss your need and eligibility for off-campus employment through economic hardship and to learn what documents will be required for applying for work authorization based on economic hardship.
- Complete the USCIS forms G-1145 and I-765. Enter (c)(3)(iii) for item 16 on the I-765 form, and prepare all supporting documentation for the application. (See the next tab for required documents).
- Submit your application packet (all required documents) to your International Student Advisor for review.
- Receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org to pick up your new I-20 form with a notation for off-campus employment for economic hardship.
- Prepare your economic hardship application for mailing and ship to USCIS Phoenix Lockbox for processing:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
- USCIS will issue you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) if employment is approved. If the application is denied, you will receive a denial notice in writing. There are no options to appeal a denial from USCIS, however, in some situations, a motion to re-open your case may be available.
Documents Required for Economic Hardship
- Complete the I-912 Fee Waiver, if applicable. (Discuss this with your International Student Advisor).
- Prepare a letter of explanation and describe circumstances of economic need:
- Identify the cause of the economic hardship and the effect that it has had on your personal finances.
- Explain why other on-campus employment options are unavailable or insufficient.
- Attach any relevant documentation that help supports your letter of explanation, for example: proof of currency devaluation or natural disaster, etc.
- Prepare a monthly budget outlining your income and expenses both before and after the "unforeseen circumstance".
- Obtain two passport size photos. Photos must have been taken within 30 days of submitting your application to USCIS.
- Make copies of your most current I-94 record, visa, and ID pages from your passport.
- Prepare a check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security for $410.00.
- Make copies of any previously issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards, if applicable.
- Meet your International Student Advisor and receive your new I-20 form with off-campus employment for economic hardship recommendation. (Please bring all documentation named above to your meeting).
- Receive the recommendation letter on school letterhead from your International Student Advisor.
- The Career Opportunities and Employer Relations Office (COER) is dedicated to helping students and alumni find part-time and full-time employment.
- To learn more about available off-campus employment opportunities, please visit: http://career.mst.edu/ or visit the COER office on the third floor of Norwood Hall.
- When you are employed in an off-campus job, you will be required to pay taxes on your earnings.
- You will also be required to file a federal and a state income tax return.
- However, you may qualify for exemptions if your home country has a tax treaty with the United States.