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 Required Circumstances
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.
SSR Student Criteria
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.
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.