On Ukrainian National Day, August 24, 2022, the Department of State (DOS) informed Exchange Visitor Program sponsors in an email that it will soon issue a Federal Register notice describing the details of Special Student Relief (SSR) arrangements for eligible Ukrainian J-1 college and university students. This will be only the second time that DOS establishes SSR benefits for J-1 students since 2011, when DOS provided SSR to J-1 students whose means of financial support came from Libya [see 76 FR 33993 (June 10, 2011)]. Prior to that, its predecessor, the legacy United States Information Agency (USIA), had established SSR benefits for certain J-1 students due to the 1998 Asian economic crisis [see 63 FR 34276 (June 24, 1998)].

Timing

In the email, DOS asks sponsors to "[p]lease read the upcoming Federal Register Notice that will articulate in more detail the regulatory provisions at 22 CFR Part 62 that are being waived or modified for this relief," and states that "[u]pon its publication in the Federal Register, sponsors should review the Department's Notice on Special Student Relief and follow the terms set forth therein." 

NAFSA confirmed with the BridgeUSA Office of Private Sector Exchange Designation that sponsors must wait until the Federal Register notice is published before approving Special Student Relief benefits for eligible J-1 students. It is hoped that the Federal Register notice will be published in the next two or three weeks.

NAFSA Advocacy

NAFSA had advocated for SSR for J-1 Ukrainian students. See:

  • NAFSA Joins ACE Letter to DOS and DHS Asking Agencies to Provide Flexibility and Support. On February 28, 2022, NAFSA joined a letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE), asking the Departments of State and Homeland Security to "provide as much flexibility and support as possible for Ukrainian students and scholars currently in the United States, and for students and scholars seeking to leave Ukraine during the current crisis."

  • NAFSA Asks ECA for SSR for Ukrainian J-1 Students. On February 28, 2022, NAFSA Executive Director & CEO, Dr. Esther D. Brimmer, sent a request to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), asking the agency to grant Special Student Relief benefits to J-1 college and university students from Ukraine. On March 8, 2022, ECA responded by thanking NAFSA for its request, and to confirm that the agency is aware of the  serious circumstances students are facing, and working with agency partners to promptly identify options to address these concerns.

Related: DHS SSR Authorization for F-1 Ukrainian Students

Note: DHS has already separately authorized SSR benefits for F-1 Ukrainian students. For more information on that, see NAFSA's page Special Student Relief For F-1 Students: Essential Concepts.

Read The DOS Notification Email