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Severe Economic Hardship

One condition of approval for F-1 nonimmigrant 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. Examples of unforeseen economic hardship 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."

Authorization is granted in one-year intervals, up to the expected date of completion of studies. Students must reapply to USCIS each year to renew this work authorization. If a student needs uninterrupted work authorization he or she must apply early enough so that the EAD is received before the expiration date of the prior one, since continued employment during the pendency of an EAD extension request is not authorized.

This employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session; but can be full-time during official school breaks. It can be performed in any job, it does not have to be related to course of study. An offer of employment is not required as a condition of eligibility.

NOTE: If you need a Social Security Number, please apply for a social security letter at the same time.


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