Background Image

Severe Economic Hardship

In this Section

Severe Economic Hardship (EH)

Employment Authorization based on ‘Economic Hardship’ is permission granted to J-1 students by USCIS to work off-campus “based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control”. [8CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(c)]

EH Eligibility & Notes –

  • You must be in lawful F-1 status and have been a full-time student for at least (1) academic year (2-semesters)

  • You agree that acceptance of employment under ‘EH’ will not interfere with full-time enrollment

  • You must demonstrate that you are experiencing ‘economic hardship’ based on unforeseen circumstances that recently occurred since your last I-20 was issued

  • ‘Unforeseen Circumstances’ may include:
    • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment resulting from circumstances beyond your control

    • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate

    • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source(s) of support

    • Unexpected medical bills

    • Other substantial and unrelated expenses

  • You must demonstrate that on-campus employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient

  • You may not begin employment until you receive authorization and the EAD card

  • You may work for any employer at any job – on or off campus

  • Employment for ‘Economic Hardship’ is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session – can be more during breaks

  • Employment for ‘Economic Hardship’ is typically issued for 1-year and may be renewed by filing a new application

  • Employment Authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate – transfer to another university – or – violate your F-1 status in any way

  • Applications will be evaluated by USCIS within 120 days or within current processing times

EH Application Procedures:

  • Step 1 – Prepare the following documents and submit to ISSS for review
    • Economic Hardship Request form

    • A cover letter from you addressed to USCIS, which includes:

      • Explanation of your ‘unforeseen economic hardship’ circumstances – and –

      • Explanation of your efforts to obtain on-campus employment

    • Evidence and/or documentation of your economic hardship, examples include:

      • A letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances

      • Proof of currency devaluation in your home country

      • Documentation of unexpected changes in the financial situation of your sponsor

      • Copies of medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses

      • Letter from your department and/or the financial aid office verifying that your assistantship or financial aid has been unexpectedly terminated

  • Step 2 – Mail your application materials to USCIS:

    • Completed and signed Form I-765

    • Economic Hardship Fee – check or money order made payable to USCIS for $380

    • Two (2) U.S. passport style photos – taken within the last 30 days

    • Copy of your ISSS issued ‘Economic Hardship’ I-20 endorsed by ISSS on page 2

    • Copies of your passport – visa – I94

    • Your cover letter explanation & supporting documentation of your ‘unforeseen change’ in financial circumstances

Mail to  – USCIS Dallas Lockbox (Mail to USCIS Dallas Lockbox only if your return address is; Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia – see instructions if applying outside this area)


For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express Mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067