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Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization

Severe Economic Hardship

If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request off-campus employment 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 decrease in the relative value of the currency the student depends upon to pay expenses
  • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support
  • Unexpectedly large medical bills
  • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

Severe Economic Hardship Employment Authorization Eligibility:

  • Must be recommended by a DSO who will update the recommendation in your SEVIS record.
  • Must have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year.
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must be enrolled full-time or received an approved Reduced Course Load to be enrolled less than full-time.
  • Must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond her or his control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.
  • Must demonstrate that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond her or his control and that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.
  • Must demonstrate to the DSO that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student's carrying a full course of study.

How to Apply for Severe Economic Hardship (SEH) Employment Authorization:

  1. Review the "Procedures for Applying for Severe Economic Hardship" below before scheduling an appointment with a DSO
  2. Review the "Regulations for Applying for Severe Economic Hardship"
  3. Submit documentation to ISSS, click button below.
  4. A DSO will review your documentation and if acceptable will contact you for an appointment. During the appointment the DSO will submit a recommendation for SEH employment authorization to SEVIS and create you a new I-20.
  • One condition of approval for F-1 non-immigrant status is that a student shows the ability to pay for his or her education and support while in the United States. The Severe Economic Hardship employment authorization benefit is intended to address situations where a financial need beyond the student's control arises, which was unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he or she is currently attending and after all other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient.

  • Location

    • Is designed for off-campus employment but no specific prohibition on it being used on-campus.


    • Granted by USCIS in increments of one year at a time, or until the I-20 program end-date, whichever is shorter.

    Hours Per Week

    • Limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; can be full-time during official school holidays and breaks.

    Field/level of Work

    • Can be in any job. Does not have to be related to course of study.

    Offer of Employment

    • Not required as a condition of eligibility. Do not need to have a job before applying for work authorization.

    EAD Process and Limitations

    • The student cannot begin employment until he or she receives the EAD from USCIS. Processing times for EAD issuance vary greatly from Service Center to Service Center, and a student applying for economic necessity work authorization must wait at least 90 days before the EAD arrives.

    Termination of Off-campus Employment Authorization

    • Failure to maintain F-1 status
    • Improperly working beyond the limitations of SEH employment authorization
    • SEH employment authorization is terminated when the student transfers from Texas State University to another


    • Student will receive an EAD card from USCIS
    • Student will receive a social security card from the Social Security Administration (usually 2 weeks after the arrival of the EAD card)
    • Student can begin work on the start date printed on the EAD card


    • If a student's application for employment authorization is denied, USCIS will indicate the reason for the denial in writing.
    • A denial may not be appealed.
  • The student prepares the following documents:

    • Document the circumstances causing his or her severe economic need:
      1. Typed letter explaining the circumstances of the hardship explicitly describing the unforeseen hardship situation and the necessity for employment authorization.
      2. Attach supporting documentation; for example, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances or proof of a currency devaluation in the student's country.
      3. Typed letter explaining why other on-campus employment options are unavailable or insufficient.
    • Typed letter stating how work authorization will not interfere with full-time academic course load.
    • Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the code: (c)(3)(iii) at item 20.
      • Send all pages of Form I-765, USCIS will reject applications with missing pages
      • Only sign by hand. No digital or electronic signature.
      • Ensure you are using the correct Form Edition. Check USCIS Form I-765 website.
    • Color copy of  unexpired passport that is valid for at least 6 months
    • Color copy of F-1 visa
    • Copy of I-94 (card or I-94 online system printout)
    • Color copy of previously issued EAD (if applicable)
    • Obtain 2 passport style photos (see Photo guidelines)
    • Check or money order for $410 made payable to "Department of Homeland Security" for the I-765 filing fee
      • Check the USCIS website for the most up to date filing fee:
      • The filing fee for Form I-765 must be included, unless the student wishes to request a fee waiver, in which case the student should also include a properly completed and documented Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Before requesting a fee waiver review the USCIS guidance on fee waivers.


    Starting October 2, 2017, an applicant may apply for a USCIS employment authorization document (EAD) and a Social Security Number simultaneously on Form I-765, according to a USCIS notice. The latest (07/17/17) edition of the I-765 must be used to do this. Form I-765 includes additional questions that allow applicants to apply for an SSN or SSN replacement card without visiting a Social Security office. USCIS will transmit the additional data collected on the form to the SSA for processing. USCIS states that "applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS should receive their Social Security card from SSA within the following two weeks."

  • International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) can mail the documents to USCIS on your behalf.

    If you choose to mail the documents yourself please refer to the USCIS Lockbox Facility

    USCIS Dallas Lockbox Addresses:

    For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

    P.O. Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266

    For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

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

  • In general, F-1 students who have been in the United States less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) Taxes.

    Your earnings are subject to applicable Federal, State, and Local Taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15th of each year. Students may be entitled to a refund of Taxes withheld from their wages if the amount of Tax owed is less than the amount withheld.

    Review more information on Filing Taxes here: