Economic Hardship Employment (EHE) is an employment benefit granted from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that enables eligible F-1 students to work legally off campus in any kind of job in times of severe, unforeseen financial circumstances. If granted, Economic Hardship Employment will not affect a student’s future eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
USCIS states that “severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond a student’s control” may include “loss of financial aid on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, inordinate increases in tuition and/or living expenses, unexpected changes in the financial condition of a student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.”
- There is a $380 fee to apply for the possibility of this benefit with the I-765 US Immigration employment application form payable to US CIS.
- You must have maintained lawful F-1 status and had enrollment for at least 9 consecutive months prior to your requested employment start date. In order for study abroad or National Student Exchange time to count as part of this 9-month requirement, you MUST have completed one semester of full-time fall or spring enrollment at LSU prior to participating in the LSU exchange program. If you have transferred to LSU within the last 9 months, your case must closely be reviewed since you signed an LSU I-20 that indicated you had full funding for at least one year in order to transfer to LSU. Most likely, it will not be approved.
- At the time of your application, you must be in lawful F-1 status, carrying a full course of study (unless it is your graduating semester and you do not need to enroll full-time to finish your degree program). A full course of study for undergraduates is 12 credit hours; a full course of study for graduate students is 9 credit hours.
- You must have made a good faith effort to find employment on the LSU campus. You should be able to document your efforts.
- You must demonstrate severe unforeseen economic hardship. The IS will review your case to determine if it warrants an Economic Hardship application to Immigration. It must also be evident that Economic Hardship Employment authorization would significantly ameliorate your financial situation. US Immigration Service Centers have denied applications of students whose circumstances appeared too extreme. The student must provide documentation to verify or prove that there is a financial strain. If evidence is not available, it is not likely that US CIS will approve a petition based on a self-statement of a situation.