U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued policy guidance to clarify the validity period of employment authorization for F-1 nonimmigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances. USCIS clarified that it can grant off-campus SSR employment authorization for the entire duration of the Federal Register notice validity period, typically an 18-month period.

For background purposes, the Department of Homeland Security periodically announces Special Student Relief (SSR) for F-1 students from a particular region who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of emergent circumstances. A DHS declaration of SSR suspends certain restrictions related to on- and off-campus employment and may alter full course of study requirements for eligible F-1 students.

USCIS previously issued off-campus SSR employment authorization for up to 1 year for eligible F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship. The Secretary of Homeland Security may suspend the one-year temporal requirement for F-1 students from a particular region whose economic hardship is due to emergent circumstances in their country of citizenship including, but not limited to, natural disasters, financial crises, and military conflicts.

The update clarifies that when the Secretary suspends the 1-year limitation, USCIS may grant SSR off-campus employment authorization for the duration of the Federal Register notice validity period, which is generally an 18-month period. This period of authorization may not, however, extend beyond the F-1 student’s academic program end date.

This guidance, contained in Volume 2 and Volume 10 of the USCIS Policy Manual, is effective immediately.

If you have questions about how this announcement may impact eligible F-1 students, please contact:

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.