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As an international student, you should be prepared to fund your entire education. However, on rare occasions, students face financial challenges beyond their control, such as a primary sponsor losing their income, a disaster at home or substantial unexpected expenses.

In this case, you can apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to work off campus due to severe economic hardship. If USCIS approves your request, you can work for one year at a time, up to 20 hours a week during school and full-time on breaks. Unlike CPT or OPT, employment on economic hardship does not have to relate to your program of study.

F-1 Students

To be eligible, F-1 students must:

  • Have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year (two semesters, excluding summer)
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Show proof that the circumstances that led to the financial hardship are beyond your control
  • Document that on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient to meet your financial needs

To apply, complete and sign Form I-765. Write (c) (3) (iii) in box #27 on the form. Then schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor and bring the following documents with you:

  • Completed and signed Form I-765
  • Check or money order for $410 payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
  • One-page statement explaining the circumstances that led to your financial hardship and why on-campus employment is not available or sufficient
  • Documentation of your financial situation at home, such as a statement attesting to loss of income or currency devaluation
  • Two passport photos taken within the last 30 days
  • Copies of your Form I-94, passport photo page, current visa page and all I-20’s

J-1 Students

To be eligible, J-1 students must:

  • Maintain a full course of study during fall and spring semesters
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Show proof of the financial or economic hardship

To apply, schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor. Bring your financial documents and proof of economic hardship. OISS will review your file and determine whether to authorize you to work off campus. If authorized, we will draft an employment letter for you.