Under normal regulations, F-1 students have limitations as to when and where they are allowed to work as well as minimum required course loads. During times of crisis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can suspend those limitations for groups of F-1 students who come from specific countries and who are experiencing economic hardship as a result of the situation in their home country. This is known as “Special Student Relief (SSR).” In addition to the requirements of citizenship and hardship, in order to be eligible, the student must have been lawfully present in the United States on the date the SSR was announced for their country, be enrolled in a qualified school, and be currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status. If the student qualifies, they may request permission to reduce their course load, to work over 20 hours in on campus positions or apply for an EAD to work off-campus.
Most recently, DHS has announced SSR for F-1 students whose country of citizenship is Afghanistan, and who are experiencing economic hardship due to the country’s circumstances. The suspension of requirements is valid through November 20, 2023. DHS also announced SSR for F-1 individuals from Ukraine who are experiencing economic hardship as a direct result of the ongoing war, effective through October 19, 2023, as well as Sudan (until October 19, 2023) and South Sudan (until November 3, 2023).
There are other countries which have their Special Student Relief still in place from 2021, and these include: Burma/Myanmar (until November 25, 2022), Haiti (until February 3, 2023), Hong Kong (until February 5, 2023), Somalia (until March 17, 2023), Syria (until September 30, 2022), Venezuela (until September 9, 2022) and Yemen (until March 3, 2023).
If you come from any of the listed countries and have questions about your F-1 status and work authorization, please call Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan at (312) 427-6163 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.