Severe Economic Hardship

If you are an F-1 student experiencing severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances, you might be eligible to apply for employment authorization.

Examples of economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances include:

  • Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment due to no fault of your own
  • Substantial changes to the currency or exchange rate of your home country
  • Substantial increases to the cost of tuition and/or living expenses
  • Excessive medical bills
  • Unexpected changes to your source of financial support

If you are approved for economic hardship, you can work off-campus part-time (up to 20 hours a week) during the fall and spring semesters and full-time (more than 20 hours a week) during official breaks.

To apply, meet with an international student advisor to discuss your eligibility. If the advisor recommends that you proceed with the application, they will tell you what documents to submit and issue you a new I-20. Processing time is 10 business days.

The employment authorization document (EAD card) is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The average processing time for USCIS is 3 months. Even if the ISS advisor recommends your application, USCIS has the final authority to grant or deny your work authorization.

Economic hardship can be authorized for up to 12 months. You must reapply if you want to continue working after the expiration date. The authorization becomes invalid if you complete your degree, leave the University of Arizona, or violate your F-1 status.