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F-1 Severe Economic Hardship Employment

F-1 students may find that they have suffered economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances and outside of their control. Examples of unforeseen economic hardship include hardship created by unexpected medical or dental bills, sudden changes in currency exchange rates, unexpected financial loss suffered by the student's parent or financial sponsor, unexpected loss of on-campus employment, or related circumstances. Economic hardship that could have been expected or planned for is not considered unforeseen.

If you have unforeseen economic hardship, you may qualify for F-1 severe economic hardship employment authorization. This type of employment authorization allows you to work off-campus, up to a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session, for any type of job that will help you to alleviate the financial hardship. This type of employment authorization requires an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with the recommendation of the International Center.


  • You must be an F-1 student in good standing and have completed at least one academic year of full-time study
  • You must be able to maintain full-time enrollment and make normal progress toward your degree objective even while working off-campus
  • You have a valid, unexpired passport and Form I-20 from Tufts University
  • You must be able to provide strong evidence and documentation that demonstrates you have severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances


  • You are restricted to 20 hours per week while school is in session, inclusive of any on-campus jobs (for example, if you have an on-campus job at 15 hours per week, you can work only for an additional 5 hours per week); however, full-time employment over 20 hours per week is permitted during the summer vacation and winter break
  • The off-campus job or jobs you accept do not have to be related to your major, but you may not accept employment until you have been authorized to do so by USCIS via receipt of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • Employment authorization is typically limited to a maximum of one year at a time or until you complete your program, whichever comes first
  • This type of employment authorization does not affect your eligibility for curricular practical training or optional practical training

Application Procedure

Severe economic hardship requires an application to USCIS that is complex and can take 4-6 months to process. In addition, approval is not guaranteed. If you would like to pursue this employment benefit, please call (617) 627-3458 to make an appointment with your international student advisor. Your advisor will review your situation and if eligible provide you with application instructions and guidelines.

Upon receiving further application instructions for your international student advisor you may proceed to complete the Form I-765 using our I-765 Tip Sheet for Economic Hardship.