The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on November 24, 2021, that F-1 students from Hong Kong may receive Special Student Relief (SSR) in the form of employment authorization, entitled "Employment Authorization for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of Emergent Circumstances in Hong Kong." This SSR is effective November 26, 2021, through February 5, 2023.
Students must meet all the following conditions to be eligible:
- Are Hong Kong residents, regardless of country of birth;
- Were lawfully present in the United States in an F-1 nonimmigrant status on the date of publication of this notice, under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i);
- Are enrolled in an academic institution that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified for enrollment of F-1 nonimmigrant students;
- Are maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant status; and
- Are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the emergent circumstances in Hong Kong.
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.