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F-1 Economic Hardship

Economic Hardship employment authorization is intended to help students who experience a significant change in their financial situation that makes it difficult or unlikely that they can continue their academic program. This benefit is available when the hardship is severe, unforeseen, and beyond the student's control.

According to F-1 regulations [Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(9)(ii)(C)], 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 conditions of the student’s source of support
  • Medical bills
  • Other substantial and unexpected expenses

Applying for Economic Hardship

Please meet with an ISO Advisor as soon as the need for additional financial resources becomes apparent. Depending on your circumstances, Economic Hardship employment may be only one of several options available to you.

If you choose to apply, work permission must be authorized by US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and usually requires 2–3 months for processing. The application requires:

  1. A recommendation from the ISO
  2. Submission of all materials to USCIS for authorization.

You may NOT begin work until approval is granted by the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). To request a recommendation and review detailed application instructions, please see our F-1 Economic Hardship Form (PDF).

How to Apply

You will have to document your circumstances and show that the current financial need was not expected at the time you applied to the University of Rochester.

You must also show that other employment is insufficient to meet your needs. For instance, as a general guideline, severe unforeseen financial hardship can be viewed as a shortage of $4,000 or more, since this amount is difficult to earn through on-campus employment.

Failure to maintain a scholarship or other merit-based award due to poor performance will usually not qualify because this is considered under your control to prevent the loss of funding.

Lastly, applicants must show that the employment will not interfere with their studies.

Conditions of Employment

Economic Hardship employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, but can be full-time during vacation periods. This limitation is separate from the 20-hour weekly limit for on-campus employment during academic terms.

Work authorized under this category does not count toward the F-1 on-campus employment limit, nor does it affect your eligibility for practical training (CPT or OPT). The work permission is not related to your field of study and may be used with any US employer.

All earnings are subject to taxes at the federal and state levels. Authorization is typically granted in increments of one year at a time or until the program end date, whichever is shorter.

You must renew your EAD card to continue working and may not work without a valid card while the application is pending.

If you transfer your SEVIS record to another school or fail to maintain valid status, your Economic Hardship authorization will end automatically (even if your EAD card still appears to be valid).