Employment Based on Severe Economic Hardship

F-1 students may be eligible if they have demonsrated severe economic hardship (SEH), to apply for part-time off campus work authorization. Part-time off-campus employment authorized for documented severe economic hardship is limited to no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session. A student who is granted off-campus employment authorization for SEH may work full-time during holidays or school vacation.



The student must meet these eligibility criteria:

  • Student has been in F-1 status for two semesters at current degree level
  • Student is in good academic standing with KU (minimum 2.0 G.P.A.)
  • Student is maintaining F-1 status, including pursuing a full course of study
  • Other employment opportunities (such as on-campus employment) are not available or are otherwise insufficient
  • Student has severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control. Acceptable financial circumstances may include:
    • Loss of financial aid
    • Loss of 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
    • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

Approved Severe Economic Hardship off-campus work:

  • Limited to no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session.
  • May work full-time during holidays or school vacation.

Important: Employment must not begin until the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued by USCIS.

Application Instructions

Gather documents in items (1)-(3) and submit them through iHawk under F-1 Student Services > Work Authorization Based on Severe Economic Hardship.

  1. Write a cover letter thoroughly explaining your personal situation and assemble documentation to demonstrate your severe economic hardship.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will only consider severe economic hardship which is due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control.  Documentary evidence might include such items as: 
    • medical bills
    • letters from family about loss of support, an illness in the family, political or natural catastrophe
    • bank statements
    • newspaper, magazine publications or verification from bank indicating a significant devaluation of home country’s currency
    • statements concerning loss of financial aid or sponsorship
  2. Put together a budget showing your income, expenses and the economic shortfall warranting a work permit.
  3. Complete USCIS Form I-765. Follow USCIS instructions. Type in your answers before printing the I-765.  Use the category code (c)(3)(iii) in section number 16 of the form.  Print and sign in blue ink.
  4. OPTIONAL: ALSO COMPLETE USCIS FORM G-1145 while on the I-765 webpage. This form allows you to provide an email address to receive an email and/or a cell phone number to receive a text message when your application is received by the U.S. government.Type your answers before printing the form. 
  5. Make an appointment with an ISS Advisor.  Please allow 60-90 minutes for the appointment.  Bring: your personal letter, a simple budget, a completed I-765 (and G-1145, if desired), documentary evidence of your financial hardship, your passport, visa, and I-94.
  6. An ISS advisor will review the documents and check your immigration status.  If the advisor thinks you are eligible to apply for work authorization based on severe economic hardship, then the advisor will update your SEVIS record and create a new I-20 for you.       
  7. Apply directly to the U.S. Government (USCIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as per Mailing Instructions.
  8. If the U.S. government approves your application, please remember to go back to iHawk and submit a scan of your new EAD card using the "(4) Upload Your New EAD" form as part of the "Work Authorization Based on Severe Economic Hardship" request that you submitted through iHawk.


Authorization is only granted for a year at a time. You may apply for an extension if your severe economic condition continues, and you still meet the eligibility requirements. An application for an extension will follow the same procedures as the original application, including the application fee. A photocopy of the previous EAD should be included with a letter clarifying how the economic situation has not changed.

Reference: 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(9)(ii)