Special Student Relief (SSR) for Students in F-1 Status

Special Student Relief (SSR) is the suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an F‑1 student from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. Regulatory requirements that may be suspended or altered for an F-1 student include: duration of status, full course of study and off-campus employment eligibility.

SSR applies when emergent circumstances occur. Emergent circumstances are world events that affect F-1 students from a particular region and create significant financial hardships, such as but not limited to:

  • Natural disasters.
  • Wars and military conflicts.
  • National or international financial crises.

DHS issues a Federal Register (FR) notice when the secretary declares that an event constitutes emergent circumstances. You may be eligible for SSR if you:

  • Are the citizen of a country specified in an FR notice.
  • Have lawfully resided in the United States for the dates indicated in the FR notice.
  • Have reported on time to your designated school official (DSO) and been enrolled in an SEVP-certified school since the event.
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status.
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship.

Your DSO must certify in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that you meet all the above requirements to qualify for SSR. Your DSO should note any specifics, as SEVP recommends, in the remarks section of your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” You must first file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and receive authorization before you can begin off-campus employment. USCIS may grant off-campus SSR employment authorization to an F-1 nonimmigrant student for the duration of the Federal Register notice validity period. This employment authorization may not extend past the student’s academic program end date. USCIS may issue employment authorization documents for the duration of the Federal Register notice, which is typically an 18-month validity period.

Special Student Relief (SSR) for Students in J-1 Status from Ukraine

In accordance with the General Provisions of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations, the Department's Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs waives and modifies certain regulatory requirements with respect to a temporary educational and cultural exchange program established pursuant to an arrangement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Ukraine.  This arrangement allows the Department to extend Special Student Relief to eligible Ukrainian students in the United States on J–1 visas to help mitigate the adverse impact on them resulting from the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022.

The Government of the United States and the Government of Ukraine have extended with immediate effect Special Student Relief (SSR) for J-1 exchange visitors in the College and University Student category - see Special Student Relief Notification: extension of temporary waiver and modification of certain regulatory requirements.

Under the original SSR arrangement, eligible Ukrainian college and university students on J-1 visas who have continuously resided in the United States since April 11, 2022, could carry lighter course loads and work full- or part- time, on or off campus, until October 23, 2023.  These students continue to be eligible for SSR now under the extension until April 19, 2025. 

In addition, under the SSR extension, eligible Ukrainian college and university students on J-1 visas who have continuously resided in the United States since August 16, 2023, also may carry lighter course loads and work full- or part-time, on or off campus, until April 19, 2025.   

The extension date for SSR is consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine. 

Countries currently designated for SSR:

Select the country link for additional specific country information.

Please note that SSR and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are different. TPS may be offered to various visa classifications, when applicable, including F-1 students. However, SSR, when applicable, is offered only to eligible F-1 students.

For detailed information about SSR, please see Special Student Relief.

Contact your ISSS Advisor if you are interested in applying for Special Student Relief.


Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

  • Are not removable from the United States
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
  • May be granted travel authorization

Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

  • Applying for nonimmigrant status
  • Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
  • Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible

Countries currently designated for TPS:

Select the country link for additional specific country information.

Please note that to be granted any other immigration benefit you must still meet all the eligibility requirements for that particular benefit.  An application for TPS does not affect an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit and vice versa. Denial of an application for asylum or any other immigration benefit does not affect your ability to register for TPS, although the grounds of denial of that application may also lead to denial of TPS.

For detailed information about TPS, please see Temporary Protected Status.

On November 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status Designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal through June 30, 2024. Beneficiaries under the existing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Nepal, the 2011 designation of Haiti, and the 2013 designation of Sudan will retain their TPS while the preliminary injunction in Ramos and the Bhattarai orders remain in effect, provided that their TPS is not withdrawn because of individual ineligibility.

Contact your ISSS Advisor if you are interested in applying for Temporary Protected Status.


January 26, 2023

Memorandum on Extending and Expanding Eligibility for Deferred Enforced Departure for Certain Hong Kong Residents

The Department of Homeland Security has announced an automatic two-year extension of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for individuals benefiting from Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Hong Kong. Hong Kong DED-related EADs expiring on February 5, 2023 have been automatically extended to February 5, 2025.


October 14, 2022

The U.S. Department of State has announced an extension of their initiative for College and University Student-category exchange visitors participating in academic training in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) until December 31, 2024: 

  • Undergraduate and pre-doctoral degree-seeking College and University students in J-1 exchange visitor status who are pursuing or recently completed STEM-related studies may be eligible for up to 36 months of academic training (including a single extension); non-degree seeking students in J-1 exchange visitor status are not eligible to apply.
  • While participating in these academic training extensions, students in J-1 exchange visitor status must continue to meet the requirements of 22 CFR §62.23(f), including but not limited to, being primarily in the United States to study, pursuing training that is directly related to their major field of study, and either engaging in a full course of study or commencing with their academic training within 30 days after completion of their related studies.  
  • A complete list of STEM field Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes for which students in J-1 exchange visitor status are eligible to apply for this academic training extension is included in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List at the following address:
  • The initiative will run until December 31, 2024 for eligible students in J-1 exchange visitor status who meet the academic training requirements.

Please be mindful that academic training can only be authorized by your exchange visitor program sponsor.


April 27, 2021

New U.S. Domestic Air Travel ID Requirements Take Effect May 3, 2023

Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. If you use a state-issued driver's license or identification card when traveling domestically: 

  • The state of issuance must meet REAL ID requirements. REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star at the top of the card. If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card; or
  • You must present an alternative form of identification, such as a valid passport or other acceptable documentation, to board a domestic flight.

To date, most U.S. states have either complied with the REAL ID Act or have received an extension.  This includes the State of Florida which is compliant. For information on how to obtain a Driver’s License or ID in Florida, go to Obtain a Driver's License.

For information by state, including where to obtain a REAL ID, visit the DHS REAL ID website and click your state on the map.


January 20, 2021

President Biden Ends Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States 

President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.  This proclamation ends the travel restrictions under Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 that had suspended entry into the United States of certain nationals, based on visa type, from Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen. While the previous travel bans did not directly affect students in F-1 or J-1 status from these countries, this Presidential Proclamation should be a comfort to international students whose family members from affected countries were unable to enter the U.S. for visits due to the now rescinded travel bans.

Pursuant to President Biden’s proclamation, the U.S. Department of State (DoS) can immediately process visa applications for individuals from the affected countries.  Please note that the rescission of Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 does not necessarily mean that local U.S. embassies or consulates are able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews.  The resumption of routine visa services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prioritized after services to U.S. citizens, will occur on a post-by-post basis, consistent with DoS’s guidance for safely returning their workforce to consular facilities. 


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