DHS Redesignates and Extends Special Student Relief Employment (SSR) Benefits to Hong Kong Resident Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship

On May 3, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided a Federal Register Notice announcing the extension and redesignation of Special Student Relief (SSR) for students from Hong Kong to include eligible students who are in a lawful F-1 status as of Jan. 26, 2023, and extend relief until Feb. 5, 2025.

This notice will temporarily suspend applicable on-campus and off-campus employment regulations for eligible Hong Kong residents.

The Federal Register notice defines the following terms:

A Hong Kong resident is defined as an “individual of any nationality, or without nationality, who has met the requirements for, and been granted, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport, a British National Overseas Passport, a British Overseas Citizen Passport, a Hong Kong Permanent Identity card, or a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Document of Identity for Visa Purposes.” DHS will continue to monitor the situation in Hong Kong and will announce any additional modifications or extensions to this notice in the Federal Register.

These notices apply exclusively to F-1 nonimmigrant students who meet all of the following conditions:

  • Are Hong Kong residents, regardless of country of birth;
  • Are lawfully present in the United States in an F-1 nonimmigrant status on Jan. 26, 2023;
  • Are enrolled in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school;
  • Are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
  • Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current crisis in Hong Kong.

The suspension of these requirements will remain in effect until Feb. 5, 2025, for Hong Kong residents.

Please refer to the Hong Kong Federal Register Notice for more information regarding:

  • The specific SSR action effective with this notice;
  • Who is covered by these SSR actions;
  • Why DHS took these SSR actions; and
  • How to apply for employment authorization under this SSR action.

In summary, Hong Kong students meeting the conditions above may apply for on-campus or off-campus work authorization for severe economic hardship due to circumstances back home.  This suspends the regulatory requirements for such authorizations, allowing work over the 20 hour/week limit while enrolling part-time if needed. Undergraduates will have to maintain at least 6 credit hours per term, while graduate students must maintain at least 3 credit hours. Students must be working in order to receive a reduced course load authorization. Students must apply for this benefit. 

For details of this SSR and to apply, students should first make an appointment with an ISS advisor to determine eligibility and to receive the authorization.


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