Severe Economic Hardship is off-campus work permission authorized by INS for F-1 students who have proven that they are experiencing severe financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. These 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 condition of the student's source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
After Severe Economic Hardship is granted, an F-1 student is allowed to work off-campus for up to one year at a time (part-time up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full time during the summer or official university breaks). However, the student must continue to maintain a full-course of study. Work permission becomes invalid as soon as the student interrupts or completes his/her academic program, is suspended or withdraws from the school, or in any way violates his/her F-1 status.
To be eligible to apply for Severe Economic Hardship work authorization, you must:
If you wish to make a Severe Economic Hardship application with the INS, you must make an appointment to meet with the ISS Director and bring the following:
Make a copy of your completed application for your records, then mail the original application by certified mail (“return receipt” requested) to:
Northern Regional Service Center
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
100 Centennial Mall North
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129
In approximately 2 weeks, you should receive an official notice of receipt from INS. This is different from the green “return receipt” postcard the U.S. Post Office will send you. The INS notice will have an official receipt number, which will begin with the letters “EAC” and be followed by 10 numbers (EAC-xx-xxx-xxxxx). The notice will also have a phone number you can call 24 hours a day to check the status of your application. If you still have questions after you have phoned INS, please contact the ISS.
In some cases, INS may send a blue “request for evidence” letter to an applicant. This letter is issued in cases where an item listed in the above checklist is missing, or INS requires extra information before making a decision on an application. If you receive such a letter, please contact the ISS immediately for assistance.
When your employment authorization is approved, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to the address you indicated on the Form I-765. Please bring this card to the ISS so that it can be copied for your file.
Although INS tries to give priority to applications based on economic necessity, it may still take several months before you receive a decision on your request.