YOU MUST READ THE ENTIRE GUIDE CAREFULLY.
ONCE YOU READ IT, START GATHERING YOUR DOCUMENTS AND EMAIL US WITH YOUR QUESTIONS AND TO SET UP A MEETING AT THE SCHOOL.
What is Economic Hardship Employment Authorization?
Economic Hardship employment authorization is permission granted to F-1 students by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work off-campus due to specific economic hardship criteria.If other employment opportunities are not available or are otherwise insufficient, an eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization based on severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control.
These circumstances may include a 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, or unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]
Who is eligible for Economic Hardship Employment Authorization?
To be eligible for Economic Hardship employment authorization, you must document that:
- 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.
- Employment opportunities on campus are unavailable or insufficient.
- Acceptance of employment will not interfere with your full-time study.
What are “unforeseen 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
How do I apply?
- Read this guide entirely and gather documentation, applications and filled forms listed.
- When your set of documents and application is complete, LAAC will enter your Economic Hardship application into the SEVIS system, and produce a new I-20 with the Economic Hardship recommendation.
- Get your new I-20 from LAAC.
Submit the Economic Hardship application and supporting documents BY MAIL to the USCIS Service Center. If approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD card”) from the USCIS Service Center.
What do I send to the USCIS? – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
You will mail a manila envelope with everything listed below.
- Original Form I‑765 (you can get it here) , using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Don’t forget to sign and include all seven pages!
- Be sure to also carefully review the USCIS instructions
- Form G-1145 (you can get it here)
- Application fee of $410.
- This should be a check (from a U.S. bank) or a U.S. money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.
- Write the 11-digit number from your I-94 on your check or money order.
- Don’t forget to sign and date the check.
(If you don’t know how to fill it out please ask us for help)
- Photocopy of pages 1 and 2 of your new Economic Hardship endorsement I‑20
(school will provide this)
- Don’t forget to sign and date the Student Attestation section of your I-20. If you forget, USCIS will return your OPT application to you.
- Photocopies of all previous I‑20’s. Do not send originals!
- Letter of support/recommendation from Los Angeles Acting Conservatory. (school will provide this)
- Two (2) identical natural color photographs of yourself, taken within 30 days of your application and not previously used for another purpose.
- Please review the specifications for the photos.
- If your photos do not meet USCIS requirements exactly, your EAD card will not be issued.
- In pencil, write your full name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo.
- Photos can be taken at most drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid)
- Please review the specifications for the photos.
- Photocopy of your current, valid passport (biographic and photo pages) and U.S. visa stamp in your passport.
- Canadian citizens do not have visa stamps.
- Photocopy of the front and back of your newest I-94 Card OR print-out of electronic I-94 (available on CBP’s website).
- Documentation of the unforeseen change in your financial circumstances.
(extremely important – see details below):
- Personal statement describing the unforeseen hardship situation; address the letter to the USCIS;
- Describe the facts that led to the problem, explain the difficult situation that could not be avoided and how you are not at fault, and present a reasonable plan that is short-term and designed to get you out of financial and academic trouble.
- Include a statement about how this employment will not impact the ability to maintain a full course load in the future.
- Elaborate on why other on-campus jobs are not available
- If choosing a start date earlier than the published processing times, indicate that you accept a change in authorization dates due to adjudication.
- Evidence / documentation of your economic hardship. Examples of such evidence include:
- Copies of past and present currency exchange charts showing the devaluation of your country’s currency
- Proof (signed letters, affidavits, bank statements) of unexpected changes in the financial situation of your sponsor
- Copies of medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses
- Documentation of your current expenses. For example:
- Proof of tuition bill payment.
- Apartment lease, proof of your current cost of living.
- Utility bills.
- Any other significant expenses (books, medical expenses, etc.)
Where do I send my Economic Hardship application?
Visit the USCIS I-765 Direct Filing Address for the current lockbox mailing address and to confirm it hasn’t changed. Be sure to click on “Foreign Students”.
You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application. Utilizing an express delivery service will enable you to track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.
Mailing to USCIS
USCIS Chicago Lockbox
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680
FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
IMPORTANT: ONCE YOUR PACKAGE IS READY WITH ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS, MAKE ONE SET OF COPIES OF THE EXACT CONTENTS AND PUT IN AN ENVELOPE THAT YOU WILL KEEP FOR YOUR RECORDS.
MAKE SURE YOU SET UP AN APPOINTMENT TO MEET WITH ALEXANDRA AT THE SCHOOL TO PREPARE THE USCIS PACKAGE BEFORE MAILING YOUR APPLICATION.
How long will processing at the USCIS take?
Processing time at the USCIS is estimated to be 90-120 days. However, processing times vary widely, depending on the time of year and workload at the Service Center to which you send your application.
You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective.
- 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 by following the same procedures outlined above. 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).
Employment Authorization Card (EAD)
If the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If the application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD and the dates are valid. Authorization is granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies. You may work part-time while school is in session and full-time during official university holidays.