The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published updated policy guidance related to employment authorization for F-1 nonimmigrant students who are eligible for special student relief (SSR) due to severe financial hardship. More specifically, the guidance serves to clarify the maximum length of time the USCIS may grant off-campus SSR employment authorization.
Background | Guidance for F-1 Students
For F-1 students who are facing severe economic hardship as a result of emergent circumstances, the USCIS has the authority to suspend certain regulatory requirements. Nonimmigrant students from a specific region may face economic hardship as a result of emerging circumstances like natural disasters or military conflicts. By publishing a formal notice in the Federal Register, the USCIS designates SSR. The start and end dates of the SSR designation, which typically lasts for 18 months, are listed in this notice. The option to take fewer classes or obtain off-campus work authorization are two potential advantages of SSR.
Duration of SSR Employment Authorization
Off-campus SSR employment authorization is typically granted for up to a year by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the USCIS states in the updated guidance that it may grant off-campus SSR employment authorization for the entire validity period of the Federal Register, provided that it does not extend beyond the student’s academic program’s end date.
Students: as discussed in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief: Different Kinds of Employment Authorization F-1 students. Typically have a few options for working off-campus (as of February 17th, 2021). However, the USCIS can reduce economic hardships for qualifying F-1 students who meet the requirements in some particularly challenging circumstances. In emergencies, this most recent guidance should make it simpler to provide eligible students with additional relief.