Students who qualify for employment authorization under this suspension may maintain their F-1 status while working a heightened number of hours during school sessions. Students normally authorized to work only twenty hours per week in an on-campus job may be able to expand their work hours. Students may also reduce their load of classes to allow for additional work time. Undergraduate students must maintain at least six semester hours per term to maintain their F-1 status. Graduate students must maintain three semester hours. F-1 students in high school or below may obtain employment authorization, but must maintain the regular course load. F-2 dependents, including spouses and children, will not receive any employment eligibility under this suspension.
ICE cites civil unrest in Syria, which has persisted since March 2011, as the reason for granting this suspension. The “extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Syria prevent students from returning there safely. The situation reportedly began when protesters demanding political reform met a government crackdown, leading to ongoing violence. Most of the violence appears to involve attacks by the Syrian army and security forces on civilian populations. The American Red Cross reports that the conflict has trapped thousands of people in their homes and turned thousands more into refugees. At least 9,000 people have died, including over 600 children. The Syrian government faces widespread international condemnation and economic sanctions, but has not yet relented.
A news release issued by ICE on April 3 states that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program wants to ensure Syrian students can maintain their financial stability while here in the U.S. Many of the Syrian students relied on assistance from family members back home or the Syrian government. Instability and international economic sanctions prevent much of the financial assistance from leaving Syria. Many students are therefore experiencing considerable financial stress.
Federal immigration laws normally only allow limited employment eligibility for students present on F-1 nonimmigrant visas. This announcement by ICE, combined with USCIS’s announcement regarding TPS for Syrians, is an important humanitarian gesture to a population dealing with a serious crisis in their home country.
The United States immigration system is often complicated and confusing. For a free and confidential consultation with a skilled and experienced Ohio immigration visa lawyer, contact Gus Shihab online or at 877-479-4USA (4872) today.
More Blog Posts:
Syria TPS Designation – Syrian Citizens in US Can Now Apply for TPS, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, March 24, 2012
Ohio Woman Tells How She Escaped Slavery in Mauritania and Gained Asylum in the United States, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2012
USCIS Grants 18-Month Extension on Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua and Honduras, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, November 21, 2011
Photo credit: Syria map by Central Intelligence Agency [Public domain] on Wikimedia Commons.