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Severe Economic Hardship

Economic hardship employment is off-campus employment authorization that is for economic need, and is not required to be related to the student’s academic program of study. Off-campus employment may be authorized in cases of severe economic hardship occurring after a student’s enrollment in an academic program. This is a case-by-case exception made for students who can show that new, unexpected circumstances beyond their control have created severe economic hardship.

Eligibility for F-1 and J-1 Students

The student must meet these eligibility criteria:

  1. The student has been in F-1 status for at least one academic year (or 9 months).
  2. The student is in good academic standing, enrolled full-time and maintaining status.
  3. Can demonstrate that no on-campus employment is available or otherwise it is insufficient to meet their need.
  4. Can demonstrate that acceptance of employment will not interfere with their being full-time student.
  5. Provide evidence of economic hardship caused by unexpected circumstances to justify that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship. These hardships may include:
    •  Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment – not due to student’s fault
    •  Large increases in tuition or living costs
    •  Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
    •  Excessive increases in tuition and/or living costs
    •  Unexpected changes in the financial conditions of the student’s financial sponsor(s)
    •  Unexpectedly large medical bills not covered by insurance
    •  Other substantial, unexpected expenses

How to apply for Severe Economic Hardship

You must file a Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization along with all the supporting documents specified in the Severe Economic Hardship Employment checklist.

Before you can submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), please complete the Severe Economic Hardship Form and submit relevant documents to OISSS.

If the application is approved by USCIS, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (also known as Form I-766); and you can then begin working off-campus. Employment authorization is granted in increment of one year at a time.


Office of International Student and Scholar Services

521 Lancaster Avenue
Powell 013
Richmond, KY 40475
Phone: 859-622-3446

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