Quick Hits

  • DHS announced relaxed employment authorization standards for Ethiopian and Palestinian F-1 students who are eligible for work authorization.
  • During the school year, work-authorized Ethiopian and Palestinian F-1 students may increase the number of hours worked and reduce their school course load.
  • Students who utilize this benefit will still be maintaining their status despite not having a “full course of study.”

On April 12, 2024, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the extension and redesignation of Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) because of the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent individuals from safely returning.” The designation period will be eighteen months, from June 13, 2024, to December 12, 2025. Along with the TPS announcement, Secretary Mayorkas announced Special Student Relief for F-1 nonimmigrant students from Ethiopia. Effective June 13, 2024, F-1 students who hold Ethiopian citizenship and are eligible for work authorization, will be allowed to “work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load.” Typically, an F-1 nonimmigrant student must enroll in a full-time course load each term to keep F-1 status. This special relief will allow Ethiopian students to continue to maintain F-1 status with a reduced course load through the TPS designation period.

On April 15, 2024, DHS announced a similar relaxation of employment rules for certain Palestinian students in F-1status who are eligible for work authorization. To qualify for an increase in working hours and a reduction in course load, while continuing to maintain a “full course of study,” students must:

  • provide documentation demonstrating they are Palestinian;
  • have been lawfully present in the United States on February 14, 2024;
  • enroll in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)–certified academic institution;
  • maintain F-1 status; and
  • demonstrate that they are experiencing severe economic hardship because of “the current humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories.”

Next Steps

Ethiopian and Palestinian F-1 students may consult with their designated school officer (DSO) to determine whether these relaxed employment authorization standards apply.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and provide updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

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