Special Student Relief (SSR)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the ability to suspend certain F-1 requirements if it is determined the country is experiencing severe hardship that is impacting F-1 students in the U.S. These affected students may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load during employment.
Students may be eligible if they:
- Are a citizen of a country specified in an Federal Register (FR) notice and were lawfully present in the U.S on the effective date of the FR notice.
- Have maintained active F-1 status and have been continuously enrolled in a SEVP-certified school since the FR effective date.
- Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis referenced in the FR notice.
|Country of Citizenship||Effective Date||Expiration Date||FR Notice|
|Afghan||May 20, 2022||November 20, 2023||87 FR 30971|
|Burma (Myanmar)||May 25, 2021||November 25, 2022||86 FR 28128|
|Burma Re-designation||November 26, 2022||May 25, 2024||87 FR 58509|
|Cameroon||June 7, 2022||December 7, 2023||87 FR 34701|
|Haiti||August 3, 2021||February 3, 2023||86 FR 41857|
|Hong Kong||November 26, 2021||February 5, 2023||86 FR 67485|
|Somalia||September 18, 2021||March 17, 2023||86 FR 38739|
|South Sudan||March 3, 2022||November 3, 2023||87 FR 12182|
|Syria||April 22, 2021||September 30, 2022||86 FR 21333|
|Syria Re-designation||October 1, 2022||April 1, 2024||87 FR 48975|
|Ukraine||April 19, 2022||October 19, 2023||87 FR 23189|
|Venezuela||April 22, 2021||September 9, 2022||86 FR 21328|
|Venezuela Re-designation||September 10, 2022||March 10, 2024||87 FR 55017|
|Yemen||September 4, 2021||March 3, 2023||86 FR 36288|
2. If approved, you will receive an updated I-20 with the SSR recommendation emailed to your student email account.
3. Prepare the application package:
- Complete the Form I-765 (Form Instructions). You must complete the fillable electronic version and type your responses- do not use the online filing. Item #27 should be completed as (c)(3)(iii). Make sure to print and sign the application in ink.
- Provide the required fee with a check or money order payable to the "Department of Homeland Security" or submit the Form I-912 Fee Waiver.
- Provide the signed and dated I-20 with SSR recommendation.
- Include a copy of your most recent I-94.
- Provide two identical passport-style photos.
- Include a copy of your passport information page and F-1 visa page.
- Provide a statement explaining that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship and that the hardship is a direct result of the current humanitarian crisis in your country.
4. Send the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase “SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF” to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox.
- U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
Attn: I-765 C03
P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680-5374
- FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: I-765 C03 (Box 805373)
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
5. When your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) arrives, make an appointment with the International Office to discuss your employment eligibility and reduced course load* options. You cannot begin working or reduce your course load until the start date listed on your EAD.
*F-1 students with approved SSR must maintain enrollment in at least 6 credit hours each semester.