Severe Economic Hardship for F-1 Students

F-1 students who have experience unforeseen economic circumstances that negatively impact their ability to fund their studies in the United States may be eligible to request off-campus work authorization under the severe economic hardship provision. This should be considered only when all other employment opportunities have been exhausted, such as on-campus employment and practical training.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for severe economic hardship work authorization. You must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status and have maintained valid status for one full academic year
  • Attest that your employment will not interfere with your studies
  • Demonstrate that employment authorization is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control

Application Procedure

To apply for severe economic hardship work authorization, schedule an appointment with an OGE advisor. During your appointment, bring the following documents with you: 
  1. A personal statement describing the unforeseen circumstances prompting your application for economic hardship. You should also include supporting documentation such as a letter from your family describing the situation, proof of currency devaluation, a lay-off notice from on-campus employment, etc.
  2. Two photos meeting U.S. Department of State specifications for passports (view specifications here).
  3. Check or money order for $410 payable to The Department of Homeland Security OR completed Form G-1450 (download blank copy here) if you wish to pay your filing fee by credit card (money order option is recommended)
  4. OPTIONAL: Completed Form G-1145 (download blank copy here) if you would like to receive an electronic notification when USCIS accepts your application (note: this provides a notification that USCIS received your application; you will be able to track your case with your receipt number from there)
  5. Completed but unsigned and undated Form I-765 (download blank copy here - DO NOT SIGN OR DATE)
    • For Page 3, Part 2, Item 27, enter (c)(3)(iii) (note: lowercase c, lowercase iii)
    • severe economic hardship code.jpg
    • If you have been issued an I-20 with a different SEVIS ID in the past, either with CMU or another U.S. institution, you should explain that on page 7. This is not common. If yes, enter Page Number 3, Part Number 2, Item Number 26 into the first available item. Then, list all previous SEVIS ID numbers you have had.
    • If you have ever been authorized for CPT or OPT in the past, regardless of level, school, or program, you should explain that on page 7. To do so, enter Page Number 3, Part Number 2, Item Number 27 into the first available item. You should indicate which practical training you were previously authorized for, at what level (bachelors, masters, doctoral), whether it was full time or part time, and your start and end dates (remember American date format: mm/dd/yy or use long form to avoid confusion [e.g. July 1, 2018]).
  6. Photocopies (not originals) of any previous I-20 you have had for CPT or OPT authorization (page 2 of the I-20 shows CPT and OPT authorization); old I-20s that do not include CPT or OPT authorization are not required
  7. Photocopy of passport information pages
  8. Photocopy of visa in passport
  9. Copy of your most recent Form I-94 (download here or, if applicable, make a copy of the I-94 card in your passport or Form I-797A if you were approved for a change of status after your most recent entry to the United States).
Print single sided; DO NOT STAPLE!

Mailing to USCIS (after advisor meeting)

Once you have met with an OGE advisor and you are found to be eligible, an OGE advisor will issue you a new I-20. This I-20 should be included with your application packet to USCIS. Your packet should consist of the following in this order (DO NOT STAPLE!):

  1. Two photos meeting USCIS specifications.
  2. Check or money order for $410 payable to The Department of Homeland Security OR completed Form G-1450 if you wish to pay your filing fee by credit card (money order option is recommended)
  3. OPTIONAL: Completed Form G-1145 if you would like to receive an electronic notification when USCIS accepts your application.
  4. Original Form I-765.
  5. Original I-20 with severe economic hardship recommendation.
  6. Photocopies of all I-20s showing CPT or OPT authorization if previously authorized.
  7. Photocopy of Form I-94.
  8. Photocopy of information pages of passport and visa page.
  9. A copy of your personal statement and any supporting documentation.
Use the following address to mail your materials to USCIS:

If sending by United States Postal Service:
USCIS
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

If sending by UPS, FedEx, or DHL: 
Attn: NFB AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034