If you suffer from unforeseen financial difficulties due to circumstances beyond your control, you may be able to apply for work authorization (EAD card) based on your economic hardship. By obtaining this EAD card, you would be eligible to work off-campus during your studies instead of only relying on on-campus job opportunties. In order to apply, you must provide proof that your financial sponsor has unexpectedly suffered financial difficulties.
This may be due to sudden fluctuations in your country's currency, a sponsor losing their job, death of sponsor, or similar circumstances. You will also have to show that you made genuine attempts to obtain on-campus employment before seeking the economic hardship work permit, and that on-campus jobs were either not available or were insufficient.
To apply for an economic hardship Employment Authorization Document (EAD), first read more detailed information from Study in the States, a website under the Department of Homeland Security. Then, you can schedule an appointment with your immigration advisor to discuss the application process in more detail.
Who is Eligible to apply for an Economic Hardship EAD card?
To be eligible for Economic Hardship employment authorization, you must document that:
- You have been in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year (three quarters)
- You are experiencing economic hardship based on unforeseen circumstances (see below) that arose after you obtained F-1 status.
- You are currently in good academic standing and are carrying a full course load.
- Part-time Canadian border commuter students are not eligible for Economic Hardship work authorization.
- Employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient.
- Acceptance of employment will not interfere with your full-time study.
What are "Unforseen Circumstances"?
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment resulting from circumstances beyond the student’s control
- Substantial fluctuations in the exchange rate or value of home country’s currency
- Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s financial sponsor
- Unexpected medical bills
- Other substantial and unexpected expenses
Other Important Information to Know:
- Economic Hardship Employment Authorization is limited to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours per week during school breaks.
- Economic Hardship employment authorization is normally issued for one year. You may submit a request to the USCIS for renewal of work authorization. The earliest you may request a renewal is 180 days before your current EAD expires. Please remember to send a copy of your current EAD along with the other documents listed above to the USCIS.
- Employment authorization is automatically terminated when you graduate, transfer to another university or violate your F-1 status in any way (e.g. not registering as a full-time student).