Severe Economic Hardship

Off-campus work authorization can be authorized based on 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.
  • Unexpected medical bills that severely impact the student’s ability to remain in the US.

Note: This page is only for students whose country is not currently approved for Special Student Relief.


  • Active F-1 status for one full academic year.
  • Full-time enrollment and good academic standing.
  • Demonstration that employment will not interfere with having full-time enrollment.
  • Demonstration that employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control and has demonstrated that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.


  1. A DSO must first determine your eligibility.
    • Submit the Severe Economic Hardship request at the international student portal, providing a statement. Write as much into the statement as can to explain your current situation.
  2. Meet with the DSO, and provide all required documentation for review. You will be asked to provide all the following at your meeting:
    • A letter describing your financial difficulties and why on-campus employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient. This must be as detailed as possible.
      • Include your full estimated income for the next academic year.
      • Include the full estimated expenses you are required to pay for the next academic year (see spreadsheet details below to help with the calculation).
      • If you have applied for but not received on-campus employment, provide all dates of previous applications, the names of the on-campus jobs, the hourly salaries of the positions, and the departments offering the positions.
      • If pay is insufficient, provide hourly salary information for each job you have applied to or held.
    • If possible, a letter of support from family members detailing your financial situation.
    • A spreadsheet of monthly expenses for the past year: tuition, fees, living expenses (food, transportation, clothes), medical costs (if applicable).
    • A spreadsheet of estimated monthly expenses for the next academic year: tuition, fees, living expenses (food, transportation, clothes), medical costs (if applicable).
    • A current bank statement showing the savings you have been using for the past academic year.
    • Tuition statements for each quarter.
    • A complete academic plan for the remainder of your program of study.
    • A letter from a director of academic advising services or dean, stating their acknowledgement that employment should not interfere with your academic plan.
  3. Receive a new I-20.
  4. Submit your complete application to USCIS.