Special Student Relief (SSR)

“Special Student Relief (SSR) is a 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.” – Study in the States

SSR may be authorized for students whose home countries are impacted by natural disasters, wars and military conflicts, and national and international financial crises. SSR becomes possible when DHS issues a Federal Register Notice.

Current Countries with Special Student Relief Opportunities

SSR is currently available to eligible F-1 students from the countries listed on the DHS website. The Special Student Relief information can be found halfway down the page. Students can also search for “Special Student Relief” and their country on the Federal Register webpage. In addition, International Student Services receives notices whenever a new country is identified for SSR and notifies any students that could potentially be eligible.

We recommend that students who are interested in applying for Special Student Relief meet with an International Student Services DSO. After meeting with a DSO from our office, they will need to follow the steps listed below to file an application with USCIS.

Please review the list to determine your eligibility, plus application requirements, prior to contacting International Student Services.


  • Student must be a citizen of a country specified in a Federal Register Notice.
  • Have lawfully resided in the U.S. for the dates indicated in the Federal Register Notice.
  • Have reported on time to their DSO and have been enrolled at Lewis since the event.
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 status as students, not on post-completion practical training.
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the emergent circumstances in their country of citizenship.

How to Apply for Special Student Relief

  1. Schedule an appointment with an International Student Services DSO, and bring any necessary documents and information, as noted on the Federal Register Notice
  2. International Student Services will review your eligibility and any necessary documents
  3. International Student Services will generate a new I-20 with the appropriate Special Student Relief recommendation on page 2 of the new I-20.
  1. On-Campus Employment to exceed regularly allowed hours (internal request/authorization only)
  2. Off-Campus Employment (with USCIS application)​
  1. International Student Services will notify you when your new I-20 is available.
  2. Bring your Jaypass to the office to pick up your new I-20.
  3. Sign your name and write the date of receipt on the I-20 immediately.
  4. Students applying to exceed the regularly allowed hours for On-Campus Employment can engage in the new hours once the Special Student Relief recommendation is made
  5. Students applying for Off-Campus Employment need to submit their I-765 application to USCIS and await the decision
    1. if authorized students will receive an EAD card and can begin employment on the authorized date. Please notify International Student Services of the outcome and provide a copy of your EAD card.

Documentation Needed to Apply for Off-Campus Employment via Special Student Relief

  • Typed letter to USCIS explaining specific situation​
  • Supporting documentation as evidence
  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Copies of your updated Special Student Relief I-20 and previous I-20s
  • Photocopies of the identity page(s) from passport (picture, number and expiration date)​ and F-1 visa page
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94
  • Two color passport photos taken in past 30 days​
  • Copy of any previously issued EAD cards​​
  • Copy of your Unofficial Transcripts in the Academics section within Self Service, accessible via the MyElmhurst Portal (select all terms and “print” for a PDF copy)

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