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F-1 Economic Need Work Permission

Definition of Severe Economic Hardship

The USCIS considers severe economic hardship to be situations that are unforeseen and beyond your control. These may include loss of financial aid or on-campus employment that is not your fault; a significant devaluation of your home currency; inordinate increases in tuition; or unexpected changes in the financial condition of your main support.

Student Eligibility Requirement

In order to qualify for Economic Need work permission employment, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year;
  2. You must be able to document that the circumstances which led to your economic situation were unexpected and beyond your control. Examples include evidence of unexpected currency fluctuations, or the unexpected loss of employment or unexpected medical expenses incurred by you or your financial sponsor;
  3. Employment is not available or is insufficient on-campus; and
  4. You must be capable of continuing full-time studies and maintaining F-1 status while engaged in Economic Need work permission.

You do NOT need a job offer to apply for Economic Need work permission.

Application and Authorization Procedures:

The Office of International Students and Scholars will evaluate your situation to make certain that you meet the eligibility requirement and recommend that you need Economic Need Work Authorization. Once you receive ISS approval, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) application will have to be submitted to USCIS.

Your complete application packet will include:

  • an original SEVIS I-20 from the ISS, with a recommendation for Economic Need work permission.
  • photocopies of all I-20s previously issued (even from other schools)
  • photocopies of the passport bio and visa pages and photocopy the back and front of the I-94 card
  • a check or money order made payable to USCIS in the amount of $380.00
  • a completed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
  • two photographs (must meet USCIS specifications)
  • a letter of explanation from you, addressed to the USCIS
  • supporting evidence documenting the unforeseen and unexpected nature of your economic situation
  • letters of support from your financial sponsor and academic advisor

Processing Times

USCIS can easily take up to 90 days or more to process this type of application. Approval is NOT guaranteed, and you may not begin employment unless you have received written approval from USCIS.

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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