Severe Economic Hardship (SEH) allows an F-1 student to work if something unforeseen has happened to his/her financial situation. Examples include:

  • significant devaluation of the currency in your country
  • loss of a sponsor
  • unexpected change in family income

You may work 12 months and after that time, SEH maybe renewed. SEH allows you to work 20 hours or less while school is in session and full-time during school breaks, (i.e., between semesters, summers and spring break). Please allow approximately 90 days processing time after your application is sent to USCIS.


  1. Write cover letter to USCIS explaining the unforeseen financial hardships beyond your control which necessitate applying for Severe Economic Hardship. Include relevant evidence, such as, newspaper articles, financial affidavits, etc.
  2. Complete Form I-765 (.pdf form)
  3. Have two immigration photos made at Walgreens or Wal-Mart
  4. Decide the dates you want to be employed.
  5. Visit the Office of International Recruitment and Admission to have information entered in to SEVIS. Bring your passport, I-94 print out and check or money order for $380 made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
  6. Mail Form I-765, photos, copies of passport, I-94 print out, new I-20 with DSO recommendation and check or money order made payable to:

    PO Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036
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