Special Student Relief (SSR)

U.S. Regulations allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to suspend or alter rules regarding duration of status, full course of study, and employment eligibility, for specific groups of F-1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. This collection of benefits is known as "Special Student Relief" (SSR).

General Information

What is SSR?

SSR is a benefit consist of on- and off- campus work authorization, and reduced course load.

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 benefits

  • Reduced course load

    • Undergraduate students who receive SSR must remain registered for a minimum of six (6) units
    • Graduate students who receive SSR must remain registered for a minimum of three (3) units
  • On-campus employment authorization 
    • Students may work up to 20 hours on-campus per week*
      *This is the same as the on-campus employment authorization policy
  • Off-campus employment authorization
    • Students may work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week once they file Form I-765 and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 

DHS issues a Federal Register (FR) notice when the secretary declares that an event constitutes emergent circumstances. To be eligible for SSR, students must meet the following criteria:

  • 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 enrolled at SF State since the beginning of the I-20 program start date
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship

Email the following documents to f1@sfsu.edu from students' SF State email account. Be sure to include full name and SF State student ID in the email.

  1. A completed and signed I-20 Request Form. 

    • Check the box for "Updated I-20 for....".
    • For "Provide reason: Type “On-campus SSR ”.
  2. A letter of explanation.
    • Student must articulate the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship; and
    • The hardship is a direct result of the current crisis in students' countries

An F-1 international student advisor will review the request. If eligible, OIP will issue student an updated I-20 with Special Student Relief statement on the first page. The I-20 will be emailed to student within 5 business days. 

Student may drop below full-time AFTER receiving the I-20 with SSR statement.

Step 1: Request an updated I-20

Email the following documents to f1@sfsu.edu from students' SF State email account. Be sure to include full name and SF State student ID in the email.

  • A completed and signed I-20 Request Form. 

    • Check the box for "Updated I-20 for....".
    • For "Provide reason: Type “Off-campus SSR”.
  • A letter of explanation.
    • Student must articulate the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship; and
    • The hardship is a direct result of the current crisis in students' countries

An F-1 international student advisor will review the request. If eligible, OIP will issue student an updated I-20 with Special Student Relief statement on the first page and off-campus employment authorization request on the third page. The I-20 will be emailed to student within 5 business days.

Step 2: File off-campus employment authorization with USCIS

File by mail (no online filing)

Mail the following documentation to USCIS. See mailing address at Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765.

  • An updated I-20

    • After receiving the I-20 by email, print I-20 and sign it with a blue pen.
       
  • A typed and signed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
    • DOWNLOAD the form at USCIS' website here.  A direct link to the form can be found here.
    • Students are advised to read Instructions for form I-765 (PDF) posted at Application for Employment Authorization | USCIS website
    • ATTENTION! For Part 2, Question 27. The category for SSR in the “Part 2, 27” is (C)(3)(iii). Type "Special Student Relief" next to the category.  See example below:
Screenshot of I-765 form for SSR request
  • Photocopies of students' current, valid passports

    • The photocopy must show photo and personal information
       
  • Two U.S. passport-style photos. 
    • Follow instructions at passport photo requirements
    • WRITE full name and I-94 number gently at back of photos. Place the photos in a small envelope for protection.
       
  • Most recent I-94:
    • PRINT I-94 at www.cbp.gov/i94
    • For students who only have paper I-94 card: Provide photocopies of the front and back sides of I-94 card.
       
  • Filing Fee $410 or fee waiver request:
    • Submit filling fee:

      • READ filing fee payment options at Filing Fees | USCIS. Follow the instructions carefully
      • Be sure there is $410 available in the checking account until USCIS cashed the check.  Applications will be denied if USCIS is unable to receive filing fee.
    • Fee waiver: USCIS established a fee waiver process if students clearly demonstrate that they are unable to pay the filing fees. Visit the Additional Information on Filing a Fee Waiver

Step 3: Mail the documents to USCIS (NO online filling)

  • Find filling address. See Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765. Look for “Foreign Students”, (C)(3)(iii) catagory
  • MAIL the application in an envelope which is clearly marked on the front of the envelope, bottom right-hand side, with the phrase “SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF.” Failure to include this notation may result in significant processing delays.
  • The processing time is approximately 3 months or more.

Once the off-campus SSR is approved by USCIS, students will receive EAD from USCIS. They will be eligible to reduce course load and work off-campus. 

Last updated: January 2024

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The information contained in this website is provided as a service to the international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators of San Francisco State University, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website or any associated site. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither San Francisco State University nor the Division of International Education is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.