Office of International Programs (OIP)

Off-Campus Employment Based on
Economic Hardship for F-1 Students

General requirements

According to USCIS regulations, if other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient (i.e. on-campus employment), F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work authorization

The need to work must have been caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control:

    • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student;
    • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or in the exchange rate;
    • Unusually high increases in tuition and/or living expenses;
    • Unusually high medical bills;
    • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

Students must have been in F-1 status for one full academic year, be in good academic standing (2.0 GPA for undergraduates/3.0 GPA for graduates), and demonstrate that the employment will not interfere with the student's carrying a full course of study.

USCIS requires that a student make a good faith effort to locate employment on-campus before applying for employment based on economic hardship. The student is not required to have a job offer before applying for this type of employment authorization, and the job is not restricted to student's field of study/major. Finally, economic hardship permission does not affect Optional Practical Training

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Application procedures


Prepare your application:

Please contact OIP so an advisor may evaluate your situation to make certain that you meet the eligibility requirements for this type of employment authorization.

To apply, call the OIP front desk to schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor. Please remember to bring ALL of the following documents with you to your appointment:

  • Completed & Signed Form聽I-765聽(click “Download I-765 (104KB PDF)” link at the bottom of the page. (Make sure the entire bar code is visible at the bottom of the application)
  • Original or photocopy of your most current I-20
  • Photocopy of the identification page(s) in your passport (must include name, current expiration date, and photo)
  • I-94 admissions verification printout from (If you entered the U.S. prior to April 30, 2013, provide a front and back copy of the I-94 card stapled to inside of your passport)
  • Two 2" by 2" US Passport Style Photographs. Write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo
  • Your letter of Explanation
  • Supporting materials such as affidavits which detail your unforeseen circumstances and which demonstrate the unavailability of on-campus employment
  • Photocopies of your previous EAD(s) if any

An F1 advisor will review your application materials and issue a new I-20 for your Economic Hardship application. You will need to pick up your new I-20 and all the application materials at the OIP front desk once we contact you (within 5 business days, excluding weekends and holidays), insert a personal check or money order for $380 application fee (made payable to 鈥淯S Department of Homeland Security鈥) and mail them to USCIS.


Mail your application:
  • An Economic hardshipI-20 will be issued. The start and end date of your requested authorization period will be printed on the 3rd page.
  • Pick up your I-765 application, other application materials, and new I-20 at the OIP front desk within 5 business days, (excluding weekends and holidays) after OIP contacts you
  • Be sure to read the cover letter from OIP. The letter contains a list of things you need to mail to USCIS
  • Sign your I-20 photocopy with a blue pen and insert a personal check or money order for $380 application fee (made payable to 鈥淯S Department of Homeland Security鈥)
  • Send your application to the USCIS by “Certified mail Return Receipt”
  • Form I-797C, Notice of Action from the USCIS should arrive at the address indicated on the I-765 within 2-4 weeks

For your convenience, OIP will provide address label with USCIS address for you. The address on the envelope is for USPS certified mail only.

Address for USPS Certified mail/Return Receipt:

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Address for private courier (non USPS) deliveries:
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S聽
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Application deadline

The USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued. The issue date is located next to the Adviser's signature on Page 1 of the OPT I-20. Please account for mailing time.

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Review and approval

Your permission to begin employment is not finalized until you have received an "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD) from the USCIS. The EAD will have your photograph and will also indicate the exact dates of your authorized employment. You cannot begin your employment until you have received your EAD from USCIS and the EAD is valid. Under this authorization students may work part-time (20 hours/week or less) while school is in session; full-time during holidays or school vacations.

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A note of caution

Economic hardship employment authorization will only be granted for a maximum of 12 months or up to your expected date of graduation (whichever is less). If you are still experiencing economic hardship, have not yet graduated, and wish to extend your work authorization, you will need to apply once again following the instructions above.

The authorization can be renewed only if you are maintaining your full-time status and in good academic standing. The authorization is automatically terminated if you fail to maintain your full-time student status, if you are no longer in good academic standing, or if you transfer to another school.

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