If you are an F-1 student who is experiencing unforeseen, serious financial hardship while studying in the U.S., you may be able to obtain off-campus employment authorization. USCIS authorizes economic hardship employment for F-1 Students.

Economic hardship employment authorization:

  • May provide help in difficult circumstances by allowing you to supplement your income enough to meet living expenses.
  • Will not enable you to earn enough to bear the cost of full-time course of study required to maintain student status.
  • Is not a solution for serious financial difficulties.

The requirements and limitations of economic hardship employment authorization are determined by immigration status. The below information applies to F-1 visa holders.


To qualify for economic hardship employment, immigration regulations require that you meet the following conditions:

  • You are a full-time student in good standing and have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
  • You must document that the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unexpected and beyond your control.
  • You must be capable of continuing full-time studies and maintaining F-1 status while engaged in economic hardship work permission.

Immigration regulations state that unforeseen circumstances:

“may include loss of financial aid or 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 conditions of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.”

Only unforeseen problems can be the basis for hardship employment since students must first demonstrate that all of the financial resources needed for their program of study are available before they are able to obtain an I-20 and enter the US in F-1 status.