Severe Economic Hardship
Severe Economic Hardship is new, unexpected circumstances beyond your control creating severe economic hardship. These may include:
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (if you are not at fault)
- Devaluation of the currency you depend upon to pay expenses
- Unexpected changes to your sources of financial support
- Unexpected large medical bills
- Other substantial, unexpected expenses
The employment authorization is granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time. The authorization allows you to work for any employer up to 20 hours per week while you are registered full-time. You may work more than 20 hours per week during breaks and summer. Economic Hardship employment authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, fall out of status, or transfer to a new school. This employment will not affect your OPT.
You must have remained enrolled for at least one academic year. You must be in valid F-1 status, in good academic standing, and enrolled in a full course of study. You must be able to show that working will not adversely impact your ability to attend school full-time and maintain academic standing. You must show evidence that severed economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances is beyond your control.
Required Application Documents:
- Please note some new changes with the new I-765 form. You need to complete the page 7 and list all of your previous CPTs, OPTs, Economic Hardships and SEVIS numbers (if prior SEVIS numbers). Please see the Form I-765 FAQ: Severe Economic Hardship guide.
STEP TWO: Set up a meeting with your immigration advisor. Bring documents 1-9 with you to the appointment. Your immigration advisor will prepare the following documents for you:
- SEVIS event history print out
- DSO statement of support I-20 with Severe Economic Hardship work authorization recommendation
- You will sign and date it.
- You will send a copy of the I-20 and keep the original.
- Step 1 documents 1-9
- Step 2 documents 1-3
STEP FOUR: Send the package to USCIS. REMEMBER:
- You are responsible for sending all items of your OPT application to the USCIS.
- Find the appropriate Lockbox to send your OPT application on the USCIS website.
- You MUST send the package within 30 days of the processing date on your I-20 with DSO recommendation.
NOTE: Application processing average time is 90 days. Do not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).