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Economic Hardship

Who Qualifies/Eligibility



**Please note that COVID-19 is not a reason in itself to apply for Economic Hardship.**

An eligible F-1 student may request off-campus employment work authorization based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's 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. (8CFR214.2(f)(9)(ii)(D))



The application for Economic Hardship work authorization is made to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will issue an EAD valid for one year if approved (but not beyond the graduation date.) Work is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year, but students may work full time in the summer and designated school breaks. Students must maintain full time enrollment while working part time if Economic Hardship is approved. There is no restriction on the type of work. Renewals are possible, but the same application procedure must be followed. A transfer student who has an unexpired need-based employment card from another school may not use that card for employment or must re-apply for Economic Hardship if he/she feels they are still eligible while a student at UTA.



Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Have been in F-1 status for at least 9 months at the school they are currently attending.
    • If a reinstatement was required at the current school, 9 months must have passed from the date the reinstatement was granted.
    • If a change of status took place at the current school, the 9 months is counted from the date the F-1 status was granted.
  2. Be in good academic standing (not on probation).
  3. Be registered full time for at least two long semesters (spring/fall).
  4. Demonstrate an unforeseen economic need. The following circumstances qualify as unforeseen economic need according to USCIS:
    • Loss of financial aid, scholarship, or fellowship
    • Loss of an on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
    • Large increase in tuition or living expenses
    • Unexpected changes in student’s financial support, such as loss of sponsorship, medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses
    • Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  5. Have attempted to find a job on campus. If currently working on campus, the student must indicate to USCIS why that job is no longer sufficient to meet the financial need, and also that the on campus job will cease on a certain date.

Applying for Economic Hardship does not guarantee work authorization. Approval for Economic Hardship is awarded by USCIS discretion and is not easy to obtain or a quick process.

OIE highly recommends pursuing CPT as an alternative or Post Completion OPT if approved for Thesis/Dissertation only. If the application is denied, the $410 application fee will not be refunded. An Economic Hardship application can take 90-120 days or longer to be adjudicated.

Step One

To begin the process for applying for Economic Hardship employment, you will need the following:

  1. Economic Hardship Application and Signed Statement of Understanding
  2. I-765
  3. Clear copy of passport identity page showing expiration date
  4. Clear copy of F-1 Visa
  5. I-94 (can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/I94 )
  6. Economic need documentation. The applicant must write a letter to USCIS requesting the work authorization and detailing the reasons work is needed. Include in the letter a list of assets and expenses for the next year. OIE recommends creating a budget spreadsheet.
  7. Supporting evidence: Supporting the reasons given in the student’s letter, such as:
    • Letter from the sponsor
    • Letter from the department indicating scholarship/assistantship will not be renewed
    • Doctor Bills

Step Two

Submit the documents listed above to OIE. Within 7-10 business days, an International Advisor will email you that the Economic Hardship I-20 is ready. You will need to sign your new I-20 and make a copy, provide any additional documentation requested by the advisor.

You will then use the Economic Hardship Checklist to create your application. In addition to the documents listed above, you will include:

  1. USCIS Application fee: Check or Money order for $410 made out to the Department of Homeland Security or a completed I-912 Request for Fee Waiver
  2. Copy of your signed I-20 showing the Economic Hardship recommendation on page 2
  3. Two (2) Passport Style Photographs with your first name, last name and I-94 number printed lightly on the back
  4. EAD Cards: Copies of any previously issued EAD cards

Step Three

Mail your completed Economic Hardship application to the Dallas Lockbox:

USPS Deliveries (Mail Certified mail, Return receipt requested For Express Mail and courier service Deliveries (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.)
USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
USCIS
Attn:AOS
2501 S. State Highway 121, Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Within 2-3 weeks, a receipt notice will be received (by OIE) notifying you that your application has been received. OIE will email you when the receipt notice has been received. Normal processing time is approximately 90-120 days or longer.

Please be advised OIE is closed and is unable to review Economic Hardship applications or mail them out on behalf of the student at this time.

Notes

    It is the responsibility of OIE to review the materials submitted by the student and to review the student’s records. It is also the responsibility of OIE to provide information to the student and advise the student how to prepare the application. It is the student’s responsibility to make honest statements in the letter and submit genuine documents. If the documents are fraudulent or the student makes false statements to USCIS, he has committed a criminal offense which may lead to severe penalties. Any employment authorization based on a fraudulent application is considered illegal employment.