How to obtain an Employment Authorization due to Economic Hardship?
Receiving EAD card
Tax and SSN
An employment authorization to work off-campus due to economic hardship is available for F1 visa holder, who experiences a severe unforeseen and beyond control economic hardship. Examples of economic hardships are:
- Loss of financial aid or loss of support due to substantial change in the financial condition of the financial aid provider or the student’s main source of fund (Not because of the student’s fault).
- Significant fluctuation (devaluation) in the value of the student’s currency against the US Dollar.
- Significant increase in tuition
- Substantial and unexpected expenses, such as medical bills
You are eligible to apply for an employment authorization due to economic hardship if:
- You have been in F-1 status for at least one full academic year
- You perform well academically
- You are able to explain in writing your economic condition, which trigger the need to work off-campus
- You are able to show that the on-campus employment is not enough to support your education after you experienced the economic hardship condition.
How to Obtain an Employment Authorization due to Economic Hardship?
Visit your international student office and explain your situation. The international student office will conduct a review to ensure that you are eligible to apply for the employment authorization due to economic hardship. If you are eligible, the International Student Office will update your SEVIS record, to include a recommendation for Economic Hardship work authorization, and print a new I-20 for you. You will have to sign and date this new I-20. Later, you should include this new I-20 in the application packet sent to the USCIS.
In the application packet, you should enclose following documents:
Original and completed I-765 Form
(put it in the front of the application packet)
- A letter explaining your economic condition, which trigger the need to work off-campus with necessary supporting evidence (from you)
- Support letters from your financial provider and academic advisor
- Original I-20 with a recommendation for Economic Hardship work authorization
- Copies of all previously issued I-20 (all pages)
- Copy of passport (the identification page and visa page)
- Copy of the I-94 form (front and back)
- Two current passport-style photos with your name and passport number / SEVIS number on the back of the photos
- Application fee – currently $180 (please check with your international student office for the current application fee)
The application process will take between 1.5 months to 3 months, and it is not guaranteed that you will get an approval.
Receiving the EAD Card
If your OPT application is approved by the USCIS, you will be sent an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card. Your authorized employment start and end date is shown on your EAD card. You cannot start working before the start date shown on your EAD card.
The processing time for the OPT application is between 1.5 months to 3 months. Be sure that you put the correct and reliable address on the I-765 form, and that you stay there until you receive your EAD card. If you move, the post officer will not forward a US Government mail even if you already request a forwarding service with the US Postal Service. In addition, the post officer will not deliver your mail if he or she does not see your name on the mailbox. Therefore, if you put your family’s / friend’s / landlord’s address, put both of your name with a c/o (care of) in front of your family’s / friend’s / landlord’s name when you write the address, for example:
c/o Mike Smith
123 Any Street #1
Los Angeles , CA 12345
Tax and SSN
As an international student you are not eligible for social security benefits. Therefore, you are not required to deduct the social security tax (FICA) from your paycheck while you are working under this type of work authorization. However, you should pay the Federal tax, State tax, and City tax. In order to do so, you need to have a Social Security Number.