International Student and Scholar Services

Severe Economic Hardship

The student must apply for an employment authorization from USCIS with the help of the designated school official to be eligible.

Employment can not begin until the student receives the employment authorization designation from USCIS.

The approval of employment for Severe Economic Hardship is intended for off-campus employment, but work can be done on-campus.



  • A student must have F-1 status for one full academic year and be in good standing as a student.
  • The student also must prove that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond his or her control that arose after obtaining F-1 status.
  • Retirement of your sponsor is not a valid reason to apply.


  • The hardship is granted by USCIS in one-year increments or until the program end-date, whichever is shorter; authorization ends if a student transfers his or her SEVIS record to another institution.

Hours per week

  • Students are not allowed to work on or off campus for more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session. Students may work full-time during summer and winter breaks.

Field/level of work

  • A student's work does not need to be related to their course of study.

General instructions

  • The Center for International Studies will mail the application to USCIS using St. Cloud State University's return address to ensure the return of the employment authorization card to you.
  • Always leave your current address and phone number on file at Center for International Studies.
  • Any mailing other than regular mail (i.e. registered, certified, etc.) must be paid in advance by the student.
  • USCIS estimates a minimum of 100 days for processing and often takes much longer.
  • The Center for International Studies will contact you when your receipt or employment authorization card is received.


Complete the forms in the Severe Economic Hardship packet in full, and then make an appointment to see a designated school official at the Center for International Studies. All paperwork must be completed before scheduling an appointment.

Bring completed forms and these items to your appointment:

  • Completed I-765, (instructions).


    Important information
    I am applying for ... Check “permission to accept employment,” or "renewal” if you are extending an approved program.
    3. Local address Use the Center for International Studies’ address: Center for International Studies, 720 Fourth Avenue South, LH 101, St. Cloud, MN 56301.
    If you were to move when your card arrives, the Nebraska Service Center will not forward your mail. Instead, your card would be returned.
    9. Social Security Number The number appearing on your Social Security card. Do NOT use your I-94 or your SCSU identification number.
    10. Alien registration number (I-94 number) Use the 11-digit identification number in the upper left corner of your I-94 card.
    11. Previous employment authorization from U.S.C.I.S. Check “yes” only if you submitted an application directly to U.S.C.I.S. (for example, for Optional Practical Training, internship with an international organization or Severe Economic Hardship).
    Do not include on-campus employment or Curricular Practical Training that was authorized by a university.
    Consult the CIS staff for appropriate language if you have ever applied for employment authorization from USCIS.
    12-15. Last entry and current status Obtain this information from your current I-94.
    16. For Severe Economic Hardship, the code should be (c) (3) (iii).
  • Copy of current I-20 (pages 1 and 3).
  • Copy of I-94 card both front and back.
  • Copy of U.S. visa.
  • Two (2) full frontal view photos against a white background with your I-94 number written on the back in pencil.
  • Copy of valid passport.
  • Application fee: $410 check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.
  • Letter in English from your sponsor explaining why promised funds are no longer available (if applicable).
  • Letter from student describing the unforeseen hardship situation and, if possible, with attach supporting documentation.
    • For example, a copy of the sponsor’s death certificate or proof of a currency devaluation in the student’s country. This letter should also mention why other employment opportunities are unavailable or insufficient.
  • A completed budget form comparing income (sponsorship money, on-campus job) versus expenditures (tuition, fees, rent etc.).
  • All past Employment Authorization Documents/work permit cards.