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USCIS Issues Clarifying Guidance for Individuals Authorized to Work Under Special Relief Provisions

USCIS has issued policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the validity period of employment authorization for F-1 non-immigrant students experiencing severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances (also known as special student relief (SSR)) who are work authorized under the SSR provisions of 8 CFR, the Service’s regulations.

This clarifies that in cases of severe economic hardship due to emergent circumstances, off-campus SSR employment authorization may be granted to an F-1 non-immigrant student for the duration of the Federal Register notice validity period. (See the DSO at the student’s International Student Office for this time period.) The employment authorization may not extend past the student’s academic program and date. This update notes that USCIS may issue employment authorization documents for the duration of the Federal Register notice, which is typically an 18-month validity period, as permitted by the relevant SSR Federal Register notice.

Emergent circumstances are events that affect F-1 non-immigrant students from a particular region and create severe economic hardship (SEH). These events may include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, financial crises, and military conflicts. Please note the sever economic hardship must be unanticipated. For example, if a scholarship will end next semester, and the student knows that, then SEH is not available. If the parent/sponsor suddenly loses their job and source of income, SEH should be available.

David Swaim

Managing Partner

Tidwell, Swaim & Farquhar, P.C.